Don’t create an alt-right martyr

Alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer and the movement he stands for are to be denounced; as is violence.

During an interview, Spencer was assaulted by a figure wearing all black, who then fled the scene. Spencer was discussing the message behind the alt-right’s mascot, internet symbol Pepe the Frog.

The alt-right is an ideology and movement that can best be described as radical white nationalism. Richard Spencer, who spreads this sentiment among his many followers, is a detestable human being, capitalizing on internet infamy to rally people against the marginalized. Despite claiming to not identify as a Neo-Nazi, the term is the most accurate one available to describe him. But ignorance is protected by law. 

There is a concession to be made: Richard Spencer is more than ignorant, confused or misled—his ideologies are inherently harmful to many people. Still yet, protecting the rights of people like Spencer to be evil on principle may someday preserve our rights to stand for what is just, should those with malicious intentions ever rise to power.

The same principle must be applied to groups such as the alt-right, Westboro Baptist Church and Ku Klux Klan, as is applied to those who spread messages of acceptance and diversity. This balance is what protects all Americans regardless of who holds office. 

Furthermore, the last thing this country needs is any more cries of persecution from self-vindicated hate groups. Making martyrs out of people like Richard Spencer will only fuel the fire that impassions those indoctrinated by his movement. 

One would think this lesson was learned after the 1856 caning of Charles Sumner: Charles Sumner was an abolitionist and Massachusetts Senator who gave a scathing address to Congress about the atrocities being committed by the south. He was assaulted by South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks, who beat him senselessly with a gold-tipped cane. This violent act levied the antebellum divide between the country extensively, perhaps persuading many in the north to take action. Parallels can certainly be drawn between this historic event and the assault of Richard Spencer. 

Many who speak out against injustice have faced accusations of being intolerant and violent. This should not be perpetuated by violent actions or the support thereof. The fight for equality is often frustrating and grueling, but it will only be won with grace.

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