The honor code of Texas A&M University reads, “An Aggie does not Lie, Cheat, or Steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Seems like something everybody can agree to, right? Well, it’s when you get down to the nitty-gritty specifics that people get divided. Does white nationalism count as lying, cheating, or stealing?
My university went a little bipolar last night. To be fair, it had been building up to a bipolar breakdown for several weeks, but it all spilled over last night. I was out walking my dog on campus and decided to take a few photos, and thought that a few of my readers might be interested in some on-the-ground journalism!
Let’s start from the beginning: A few weeks ago Richard Spencer was invited by an (as far as I can figure out) anonymous person to come speak at A&M, shortly after Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Richard Spencer is a white nationalist, and is also credited with creating the term “alt-right.”
As one can guess, this didn’t go over so well with a lot of people. There were calls from students and faculty to do something! Ban him from speaking, don’t let him on campus, move the speaking location away from the Memorial Student Center, anything! (Off topic: I think it was the white nationalist speaking at the MSC that irked a lot of people, as it functions as a memorial for Aggie soldiers, a lot of whom died fighting Nazis in WWII.)
Well, enough complaints and threats to protest got upstairs that A&M president Michael Young threw together a counter-event for people to attend. On the same night that Spencer was speaking, across the street in Kyle Field, people could come to “Aggies United.” This event was packed with musicians, speakers, and other artists. The event was designed, in part, to show that “Aggies are strongest when united.”
Well, while lots of people went to “Aggies United,” there were hundreds more around the MSC protesting. There was a group protesting Richard Spencer speaking at the MSC. Then, out of the blue, came an organization calling itself the “European Aggies Alliance” that protested the protestors. The EAA espoused white separatist feelings similar to Spencer. Soon, there were protestors protesting the protestors protesting the protestors. Remember, everyone, “Aggies United!”
I got a few photos while I was walking my dog and watching the protests and counter protests from the sidelines.
My dog and I left after maybe sticking around for 30 minutes or so. Protests are fun to watch for a while, sure, but after a while the angry chants and the picket signs get repetitive.
What is there to learn from all of this? There’s probably an important lesson about the importance of standing up for what you believe is right, or allowing people to speak their minds even if their thoughts scare you. The only thing I learned, however, is if I ever become head of a university, and there’s a night of protestors and counter-protestors, I should really find a less ironic name for my event than “Aggies United.”