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Michigan State University now has the dubious distinction of being the first and only U.S. college or university with an official hate group on its campus. In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center will issue its 2006 Hate Group list, and MSU’s Young Americans for Freedom will be on it.
The Intelligence Project of SPLC monitors hate crimes and domestic hate groups – including neo-Nazi, racist Skinheads, Christian Indentity adherents, black separatists, and extremist militias – making it an acknowledged expert on the wide spectrum of U.S. Hate activity. It is a badge of dishonor to have one of our state’s largest public institutions named on this list.
MSU’s leadership has reacted like a deer caught in the headlights, waffling on whether YAF is really discriminatory and whether their activities violate university policies. That is just lame. MSU’s leadership ought to speak out forcefully and unequivocally that the university will not harbor hate groups, will not tolerate them on their campus and will immediately pull their support for YAF.
BTL reported months ago, in December 2006, that SPLC would probably list the YAF in their 2006 Hate Group report, and we contacted MSU administrators then for comment and reaction. Perhaps they were caught off guard then, but they have had enough time to consider the consequences of their inaction, and it is time for them to denounce YAF.
Some people have offered a counter-argument in defense of free speech, saying that YAF has a right to say whatever they want without threat of recrimination. As a member of the press, BTL strongly supports free speech and the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution. However, with freedom comes responsibility, and exercising one’s freedoms cannot jeopardize someone else’s freedom, and that is precisely what hate speech does. One can say whatever one wants, but one is still responsible for the effects on others.
SPLC is extremely careful, studious and reluctant to name groups to their Hate List, which is why over 60,000 law enforcement personnel subscribe to the SPLC Intelligence Report and use their hate list and other training materials to counter violence propagated by these groups. MSU’s administrators must understand that they are jeopardizing the reputation of the entire university by continuing to support YAF and their racist, bigoted and violent agenda.