The reaction by the administration to a white nationalist being invited to speak at the Texas A&M campus was right.
The administration could have tried to prevent Richard Spencer, who is a leader in the “alt-right,” — a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism — from speaking at the student center.
Instead, the university announced it will hold an event to highlight diversity and unity at the same time as Spencer’s speech. The counter-event, “Aggies United,” will be held at the football stadium, which is within walking distance of the student center.
“Freedom of speech is a First Amendment right and a core value of this university, no matter how odious the views may be,” A&M President Michael Young said.
There’s little doubt that Spencer and his alt-right group have a much different view of the direction the country should head than most Americans. In fact, most recently President-elect Donald Trump weighed-in in an interview with The New York Times.
“I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn,” Trump said.
Still, Spencer should be allowed to be heard, however repulsive his beliefs might be to some.
The ability to express yourself through civil discussions about the future of not only yourself but your family and your country, native or adoptive, is paramount. Those civil discussions not only remind us of where we have been but where we should go.
Which is why A&M’s decision was the right one. As long as both groups adhere to campus rules about such events, both events will go forward, university officials said.
What is puzzling is the comment by the former student who rented out space available in the student center and asked Spencer to come to College Station.
“We’re disappointed that A&M is so closed-minded they don’t want to come hear different points of view,” Preston Wiginton said Wednesday. “One of the purposes of bringing controversial speakers to A&M is so the students can engage with the controversial figure directly.”
Actually, what the university is doing is just that — providing a different point of view than Spencer’s.
• Dave Mathews