Following the publication of our first article about white nationalist Richard Spencer’s planned visit to campus, the Aggie community erupted in an outpour of disgust and dismay.
The story became statewide and national news. Protests were planned, student leaders spoke in opposition of his visit, the administration followed suit and Aggies United was eventually scheduled in response to Spencer’s speech.
But some believed by publishing the article and continuing to cover the conversation that ensued, we were giving Spencer and his agenda an undeserved platform. However, we believe the reaction that has followed has brought the student body closer together. The Aggie community has been a hub of discussion and debate.
This is what journalism is supposed to do: Spark a conversation. Yes, far more people know about this event than would have if we hadn’t published the story. We have technically given Spencer and Preston Wiginton, the white nationalist who organized the lecture, a platform to voice their opinions.
But it also gave a voice to thousands of Aggies to say they are not okay with the ideals of the so-called “alt-right” movement. It gave a voice to thousands of Aggies to say they do not support the racist rhetoric of the extremist group. And the voices of disgust and outrage have far outweighed the voices of those who may support the white nationalist movement.
At the end of the day, this is an issue of free speech. Texas A&M is a state-funded, public university. Wiginton and Spencer are private citizens. They have a right to visit campus and say what they please. But that same right applies to the thousands of Aggies who will be protesting that visit on Tuesday. And it applies to The Battalion as well.
The Battalion does not support the things Wiginton and Spencer have been saying and will likely say on Tuesday. But we do support their right to say them. Just as we support the right of Aggies to be upset by those things, and to protest the visit.
We will continue to cover Spencer’s visit this week, though you won’t find any coverage in Tuesday’s print edition as we’ll be dedicating Tuesday’s paper to Anita V. Mantri, the Aggie who will be honored later that night at Silver Taps.
It’s our job to inform Aggies about what’s happening on campus — the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether you’ll be attending the numerous protests, the speech or Aggies United, The Battalion will be covering all three.
For better or for worse, a white nationalist is coming to campus on Tuesday. We’ll be covering his visit. But we’ll be covering your reaction, your indignation and your outrage, too.
The Battalion’s editorial opinion is determined by its Board of Opinion, with the editor-in-chief having final responsibility.