Violence erupted Monday as alternative right figurehead Richard Spencer’s planned speech at Michigan State University was met with far-left, anti-free speech, anti-police activists. The incident, which is only the most recent occurrence of a group attempting to stifle free speech, resulted in 24 arrests, more than 150 tickets issued and numerous injuries.
Far-Left Fails to Silence Richard Spencer at Michigan State University
Violent far-left, anti-free speech, anti-police activists in masks squared off against supporters of prominent alternative right figurehead Richard Spencer and police officers in riot gear Monday afternoon as he was set to deliver a speech at Michigan State University.
Hundreds of police officers, non-military armored vehicles, mounted patrols, bicycle police and law enforcement helicopters were all on site. All because one individual wished to speak.
If you hold a ticket to MSU event, identify yourself to police for escort inside. Police will bring attendees inside in groups. The Pavilion is safe.
If you feel situation is too intense, there is no shame is staying away.
From what I hear, order has been restored.
— Richard 🥂 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) March 5, 2018
Anti-Free Speech Protest Nets 24 Arrests, Multiple Injuries
Richard Spencer’s speech at Michigan State University went ahead, but not before violence erupted as about 40 backers of the alternative right figure, as well would-be speech attendees, were prevented from entering the venue as they were violently confronted by a few hundred masked anti-free speech activists.
Non-military armored police vehicles and officers outfitted in riot gear who were on site promptly broke up the fight before handcuffing those who had initiated the senseless violence. Police then attempted to form a blockade with their bicycles so as to prevent any further confrontations from erupting.
During the protest, police – outfitted in full riot gear – arrested a total of 24 people. A number of individuals were injured during the clashes.
Captain Doug Monette, a spokesman for the police department at Michigan State University, said that charges ranged from misdemeanors to felonies, and included weapon charges as well as charges of hindering and obstructing law enforcement officers.
The Detroit Free Press showed anti-free speech protesters screaming belligerently at police. A number of anti-free speech activists were seen trying to kick over bicycle blockades police officers had employed to maintain the peace. Anti-free speech activists were seen screaming, “F-ing Nazi cops!”
Several weapons were seized during the arrests.
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Who is Richard Spencer and What is the Alternative Right?
Richard Spencer heads the National Policy Institute think-tank. He has helped to popularize the term alternative right (alt-right) – a political movement spawned from the youthful and subversive corners of the internet, on online forums and platforms such as 4chan and 8chan. The alternative right can be roughly defined as a sprawling coalition of ring-wing populists, civic nationalists, neoreactionaries, natural conservatives, traditionalists, ex-Ron Paul supporters, and ethno-nationalists.
The expansive alternative right movement certainly isn’t without its more unsavory elements. On its fringes, the movement contains insignificant numbers of racist skinheads, neo-fascists and national socialists. Members of this alternative right seem to be bound together by a common ideology which wholly rejects neoconservative politics.
The alternative right movement accuses mainstream neoconservative politicians like Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush of placing the importance of global free market capitalism over the conservation of western culture and its values. It also accuses them of endangering the latter two via an indifference to mass immigration, which serves the purposes of multinational corporations and big business.
In alternative right circles, neoconservative politicians like the ones mentioned above are commonly known by the pejorative label “cuckservatives.”
The alternative right holds not a utopian view of the human condition. They recognize that just as they themselves are inclined to prioritize the interests of their own group, other groups are likely to do the same. This notion is where their critique of multiculturalism emanates from.
Influential intellectuals, thinkers, and influencers of alternative right thought include individuals like German historian Oswald Spengler, Italian philosopher Julius Evola, American painter Sam Francis, French academic and philosopher Alain de Benoist as well as American paleoconservatives like Patrick Buchanan.
Michigan State University Originally Refused Richard Spencer’s Speech
Originally, Richard Spencer’s request to speak at Michigan State University was denied by campus administrators who cited “concerns of safety.” However, the Detroit Free Press reports that a lawsuit was filed against Michigan State University that made the assertion it had violated the First Amendment rights of Richard Spencer when officials prevented him from speaking on campus. As a result, Michigan State University agreed to allow the event on its campus.
“Michigan State is wholly dedicated to freedom of speech, not just as a public institution, but as an institution of higher education,” Michigan State University officials said January in a public statement. “Here, ideas – not people – are meant to clash and to be evaluated based on their merits.”
By the time the violence and chaos had been quelled by the police, only around 40 attendees had made it inside of the venue to hear Richard Spencer speak. Presumably, the rest of the individuals who had planned to attend the event left due to fear of violence from the anti-free speech activists.
“What happened outside was really worrisome and heinous,” Richard Spencer said Monday night. “That was an attempt to use violence to prevent people from attending a speech that was peaceful.”
Is Free Speech an Endangered Species?
Should controversial speech be opposed with violence? Should speakers like Richard Spencer have any and all platforms from which they can express their ideas taken away? Or should we continue the Western tradition with its classically liberal values allowing for free speech regardless of what’s being expressed – no matter how controversial?
Is it still possible, in post-everything America, to have a dialogue in which different points of view are presented and the audience is free to determine which has the most merit? Or is free speech now a show in which only sanctioned ideas from within a certain range be presented?