On Wednesday, March 29th, the Penn State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a discussion on the best ways to “fight fascism” on Penn State’s campus. The recent discovery of white nationalist posters on campus prompted the meeting. The posters advocated for Identity Evropa, an organization that advocates for the United States becoming an ethnonationalist state for white people. Many students said that these posters represented an existential threat to themselves and that stopping white nationalism was a “matter of survival” for them. A common first reaction to these posters was to “worry about the safety of [their] family”. Although Identity Evropa has not been connected to any violent offences, their ideology was deemed unacceptable by the meeting’s participants.
The discussion began with brainstorming ways to make the university take action against the Identity Evropa posters. The concern that the university could not take action against these posters without violating the First Amendment was discussed. In response to this, some students said that the US legal system had been established for the purpose of discriminating against People of Color; therefore, the First Amendment was outdated and not up to an acceptable moral standard.
A few conservative students and I attended this event in solidarity. We were met with mixed reactions. Some believed that we, as advocates of small governments and individual liberty, represented an inherent threat to People of Color, as believers in “racist systems” such as capitalism. Others viewed us as genuinely trying to help and tried to convince the skeptics to hear us out. Unfortunately, there was a clear division between those willing to hear us out and those who felt we had no business even attending the meeting. Several times, members of our group were silenced with disdainful shouts of “but you’re white!”
Some members became openly hostile to our presence in the room. We assured them that we were there to have a civil discourse and to even help with the cause. Despite our efforts, several of the members maintained their belief that we were only trying to prevent them from planning an adequate response to the posters.
Not much progress was made in the goal of retaliating against the Identity Evropa propaganda. By the end of the discussion, most members resolved that there wasn’t much to do other than continue ripping the posters down. Overall, the event yielded little progress, but certainly demonstrated mistrust and even hatred for any student that did not view capitalism, and America in general, as fundamentally evil.