An advocacy group is connecting the dots between a right-wing student organization on the K-State campus and white nationalists trying to build a national movement.
Those dots might be real and they might not.
What we have to say at the moment is pretty simple: A student group that has a particular political point of view has every right to operate on campus. If it’s part of a national movement to influence policy in one direction or another, so be it.
In that sense, the university’s position on this matter is right on the mark. K-State spokesman Jeff Morris said Wednesday that the university supports “free and open inquiry, debate and deliberation.”
Hear hear. In this era of “free speech zones” and “safe zones” on campuses around the country, it’s been refreshing and heartening to see K-State take such a solid position. As you probably know, the idea of a “free speech zone” is a frightening concept that free speech ought to somehow be allowed only in certain designated areas.
White nationalism is a disgusting concept, and, we would argue, a horrible path for the country to follow. It’s basically the notion that the United States should try to protect a white-majority society. From that idea flows policies against immigration and integration of various sorts. That’s the path of the Nazis.
That does not mean, of course, that people in favor of more restrictive immigration policies are fascists, or that they should be banned from expressing their views. Not at all. We ought to be able to have a discussion and debate based on facts, including all points of view on that issue.
The advocacy group in question is a Kansas City outfit called the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. Its mission is to “stand against bigotry and defend democracy and human rights.” It tracks far-right organizations, and asserts in a recent report that national figures see a new student organization at K-State — America First Students — as a new offensive in a national campaign. The advocacy group’s report was given front-page attention in the Kansas City Star the same day it was issued. The student group’s leader, Jaden McNeil, called the Star’s reporting on it “libelous,” and said it has no evidence to support it. He did not specifically deny anything in the report.
We tip our cap to the Star for its reporting, which brought to light the advocacy group’s work. Whether that work is really accurate or not remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the best answer to a far-right organization’s efforts on campus is pretty simple: Let them express their views. Then let their adversaries express their ideas. Students and others will decide which ideas are best, and everybody will learn from it. That’s what a university is for.