From Peter F. Murphy, professor in the English and Philosophy Department
I write now in response to the arrival of “The Traditionalist Workers Party” on the Murray State campus. First, I want to thank the Republican Party for allowing groups like this to feel empowered to recruit members in the most public of places. I knew we could count on them for promoting the kind of hatred and intolerance this group represents. Second, I want to reflect, briefly, on how we arrived here, here being a moment in our nation’s history when ultra-right-wing hate groups think it is acceptable to not only parade in public, but to actively solicit support from the young, our students.
At the most obvious level, we have Donald Trump to thank for this particular political low point in American political history. In the few short months that Donald Trump has garnered and exploited his party’s support for his candidacy, the stridency of the fascist wing of the Republican Party has become more and more public. I don’t have to rehearse Trump’s close affiliation with several American neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, groups that are overtly racist, xenophobic, conservative Protestants and fundamentally intolerant of anyone not like them: blacks, Jews, gays, Muslims, Catholics, the list goes on – pretty much anyone not white, male, Protestant and heterosexual.
The press wants us to believe this move to the extreme right is a fluke and has very little to do with the Republican Party. The alt-right, as they like to refer to these groups, is a euphemism for fascist, but the press couldn’t possibly call them that. The so-called alt- right consists of renegade Republicans, much further to the right even than the Tea Party. They thrive on hatred and fear.
I know the label, “fascist,” is bandied about and frequently used primarily to dismiss a conservative opponent’s argument or position: “What a fascist, with all that arrogance and intolerance.” Fascism is, however, the logical outcome of moving further and further to the right, which is pretty much what the Republican Party has been doing for several generations. Fascism is what extreme conservatism becomes. It has too.
As soon as the Republican Party embraced the evangelical wing of the Protestant church, a more intolerant group you would be hard pressed to find, it was heading pell-mell toward fascism. Trump is the logical outcome of an ultra-right agenda, and he manifests several significant characteristics of the successful fascist: he’s a demagogue, who thinks he is the only one who has the answers; he is ultra-militaristic; he targets particular groups, defining people by their race or ethnic origin; he advocates rounding these people up for deportation (and worse – think The Final Solution!). This list goes on, too. I await the book burnings.
Republicans have been mobilizing behind fear and hatred for the past 40 or 50 years, maybe longer. The far right, the inevitable result of the Republican Party’s trajectory, thrives on the kind of intolerance and hatred we are seeing today. The rise of the far right/neo-Nazis/Fascists should not come as a great surprise. You sow what you reap.
The question we have to ask ourselves is what we can do about it. My suggestion is that those who do the bookings for the Curris Center let us know when “The Traditional Workers Party” will be back on campus. The “us” here would the press, the administration and anyone else who can help spread the word to the entire campus. Then we go, en masse, to their table, where we tell them: “No with Thunder!”
When I say en masse, I mean young Republicans as well as young Democrats. This is an ideal opportunity for Republicans to demonstrate publicly their opposition to the direction their party is being taken. It is also an opportunity for tolerant Protestants to speak up. Don’t let hate groups hijack your religion. Silence is permission.
Throw all hate groups off campus, period. The right to freedom of speech includes the right to say no to hatred.