The University of Minnesota’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Access Programs Alexander Hines condemned the atrocities of the neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia by blaming the Constitution of the United States.
In a post published on the University’s Campus Climate Website, Hines penned a strong statement of condemnation writing, “As we prepare to return to our University and classrooms, know that we are deeply impacted by these actions and that we stand against acts of violence, hate, bigotry, racism, white supremacy and neo-confederate ideology.”
While this is a powerful statement of condemnation for the violence in Charlottesville, that is where the context of Charlottesville ends. Hines turned his focus to attacking the United States’ history in its entirety.
“As educators and students,” Hines writes, “we have the responsibility to learn about the historical and cultural context of genocide and colonization that has maintained and upheld a superiority and inferiority binary as well as a power structure of economic oppression that has also maintained systemic, structural, and institutional racism under the guise of ‘We The People.’”
Hines points to the Constitution and capitalism as the roots of Charlottesville’s white-supremacist rally instead of the usual suspect—racism.
Hines also cited the protections and values found in the University’s College of Liberal Arts Constitution. Such values include “freedom of thought and expression; respect, diversity, and social justice.”
While social justice holds different meanings for different people, the values seem to mirror those of another document which also starts under with “We the People”.
Hines also listed a compilation of resources for students to use while processing the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, including an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a controversial record layered with accusations of bias. These accusations point out the inclusion of lawsuits from Evangelical Christians listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual Hate Watch, which has also labeled pro-liberty leaders such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali as extremists.
In this Southern Poverty Law Center article, the rise of the Alt-Right is blamed in part to the first amendment stating, “universities, by definition, welcome free speech and philosophies of every stripe. Publicly funded schools, in fact, may not prohibit free speech. It’s an opportunity the alt-right and other extremists are enthusiastically exploiting to attack egalitarian values and recruit students to their cause.”
The article continues on with a plan of action for students to take in stopping the alt-right from making an appearance on campus. This plan gives advice to not give the alt-right attention because “the most effective course of action is to deprive the speaker of the thing he or she wants most – a spectacle” and to take this battle into the classroom by asking professors to “create a class assignment on this subject. Offer to come to the class and speak for a few minutes about your concerns with the alt-right.”
The article also lists Jewish author David Horowitz as a member of the neo-Nazi alt-right and recommend consulting each campuses College Republican leadership to discuss the alt-right.
The original post made by Hines was quoted in an email to the University of Minnesota’s entire College of Education and Human Development. Following Hines’ quote about the “guise of ‘We the People’”, Director of Student Services Amy Kampsen added “It is time to talk about what a racial/diverse collective looks like to address inequities for those of us who are considered the “other” and to make our voices heard more on a legislative platform to hold those that we vote for accountable regarding morality, humility, and civility.”
The College of Education and Human Development has a record of promoting social justice ideas including a mandatory class for first-year students which has a “curriculum focused on multiple perspectives and social justice.”
Hines concludes his post stating, “As we start the academic year, we are committed to making our office a place of hope and a place where students can be a part of positive change for a better future in which everyone feels welcomed, respected, and valued.”
It remains to be seen if the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Programs will include capitalists and patriotic Americans as students who are to feel welcome, respected, and valued or if those students are to be lumped in the same category as the despicable neo-Nazis of Charlottesville.