When I first received my acceptance at Temple University, I anticipated its diverse campus and an abundance of social-justice-oriented clubs, rallies and protests.
But, like any institution, harmful ideologies are ever-present.
My friends and I often talk about issues of racism on campus. We discuss the effects of gentrification and the frequent presence of fundamentalist protestors by Ritter Hall, and it feels like racism is an everyday occurrence in our community.
Between the effects of gentrification on our community and the frequent presence of fundamentalist protestors by Ritter Hall, the reality of racism, and even white supremacy, in Philadelphia so apparent.
And that’s why it really upsets me to hear that, despite the everyday reality of racism in our city and across the country, Fox News Commentator Tucker Carlson recently called white supremacy a “hoax.”
On Aug. 6, Carlson insisted that white supremacy is not a serious issue in the U.S. He took it a step further by asserting that it is a “joke” to connect the rise in white supremacy to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in which a gunman killed 22 people outside a Wal-Mart.
Carlson, a Fox News contributor since 2009, is no stranger to this type of rhetoric. He regularly demonizes Black politicians, like Kamala Harris and Ilhan Omar, believes that immigration is ruining the country and adamantly believes that white people are victims of racism.
This time, Carlson’s comments are a new and unique low.
It’s hard to deny that racial bias and hatred was not a motivating factor for the gunman, Patrick Crusius, in El Paso. Crusius uploaded a 2,356-word manifesto onto 8chan, an online message board, and professed his anti-immigrant beliefs and justification for his premeditated attack, New York Magazine reported.
The Anti-Defamation League reported on Aug. 4 that 73.3% of extremist-related murders in the U.S. this decade were “committed by right-wing extremists, including white supremacists.”
And the El Paso shooting is not the sole instance of a mass shooting this decade fueled by white supremacist ideology: it comes only years after the shooting of a black church in Charlestown in 2015, a lethal car attack during a 2017 neo-nazi rally, and the shooting of a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.
So, how can a so-called journalist suggest with such confidence that white supremacy is a “hoax?”
“People hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. You can brush off anything,” said Barbara Ferman, a political science professor who specializes in social justice activism.
White supremacy is far from a hoax and it is important to bring attention to this problem, especially when it turns into acts of violence.
Molefi Kete Asante, the chairperson of Africology and African American Studies department, said white supremacy is a “deception that has gathered around it a lot of people who are ignorant of science.”
“There are people who actually believe white people are superior to other humans,” Assante added. “There is no escaping this reality in the lives of white people, therefore, when Carlson of Fox News says that it is a hoax, he is trying to minimize the significance of the idea in American society.”
The presence of white supremacy is far from imaginative. Temple’s Main Campus has encountered acts of white supremacy a number of times.
Many students have seen the infamous religious protestors that flood crowded parts of Main Campus, holding signs that promote xenophobic beliefs. It’s hard to ignore a huge sign that proudly lists all of the different people that are “going to hell,” including people who have had abortions, LGBTQ people, feminists, Muslims and the entire Black Lives Matter movement.
In May 2017, flyers promoting white nationalism were found in Gladfelter and Anderson Halls. This was the second time white nationalist organizations promoted themselves on campus in a month and a half.
These are real examples of white supremacist beliefs making its way on campus, and dismissing it as a “hoax” won’t do anything to stop it.
I want Temple to flourish, and I want all students to feel safe and free, which can only start when we recognize the reality of where our society is headed if we don’t act now.