Just recently, on Saturday, when writing about his planned lecture series on his blog, Matthew Heimbach wrote that his goal is to challenge the “ideas promoted by the left and their kosher conservative professors by bringing the message of National Socialism to the students of our universities.” This goal is now being realized for Heimbach, seeing that the first stop for his lecture series is right here at UT.

Just the term “National Socialism” should be enough to leave a foul taste in anyone’s mouth, but Heimbach’s organization brings the racist and fascistic tendencies of alt-right trolls to the forefront of its politics. The organization that Heimbach is representing, the Traditionalist Worker Party, was labeled as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center because “the group is intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations that espouse unvarnished white supremacist views.” Earlier this month, Colorado State University President Tony Frank called the group “unapologetic Nazis” after they distributed racist propaganda to students.

Heimbach himself pled guilty to disorderly conduct after repeatedly shoving a black woman at a Trump campaign rally in Kentucky . What we as a community now have to question is: Why are we allowing a neo-Nazi organization, with an openly racist and violent speaker, represent itself on our campus? Are we so passive as a student body that we turn our heads and ignore the xenophobia and hatred being spewed around us? Our acceptance and encouragement of free speech is only worthwhile insofar as we do not go willingly while others take it away from us.

Going forward, there seem to be a few appropriate responses to the rising racist population on our campus. We must demand that the UT administration take these threats seriously and take action beyond half-hearted emails condemning the matter. After all, what can UT really claim to be promoting by continuing to allow neo-Nazi speakers and activists here? As always, it will come down to the student body to stand up for what is right. Students on campus have to be militant against the fascists, taking action and standing against the propaganda and hate-fueled rhetoric that they spread. We must make our message clear to these groups: We do not want you here.

Jordan Rogers is a sophomore in economics and can be reached at jroger60@vols.utk.edu.

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