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This past Sunday, some Harvard undergraduates received an unpleasant surprise in their inboxes: an email from the white supremacist hate group “Educators and Students Against White Genocide.” The message—with the subject heading “Fight White Genocide - Vote Trump!”—was as deluded as the name of the organization that sent it would suggest. In brief, it argued that “‘diversity’ means chasing down the last white.’”
No one has yet invented language strong enough to condemn such bizarre and dangerous ideas. The intrusion of this odious racism and hatred into the Harvard community is of course unfortunate, but what is more unfortunate is that such rhetoric has been on the rise in parts of the country we too often dismiss as not relevant to our own lives. This email underscores just how alarmed we should be that views like these still find any significant audience anywhere in the United States, or indeed anywhere in the world.
While it goes without saying that this email’s contents are a reflection of a twisted worldview, we wish to highlight one of its assumptions that deserves particularly fierce rebuttal: the idea that the United States is a country for white people. Besides its failure to acknowledge that powerful Native American civilizations peopled this continent long before Europeans set foot on its shores, this view also fails to acknowledge the African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and countless others who have built this country and who, in many cases, have been here just as long as Americans of European descent, if not longer. To erase them from the nation’s history is historical malpractice of the highest order.
But to address the contents of this email in the terms of traditional historical analysis or discourse is nearly laughable. This email glorifies the most disgusting and shameful parts of our country’s history. There is no reason for them to return from the depths of the past.
Of the email’s many disturbing qualities, however, by far the most worrying is its invocation of a major party’s presidential candidate to render racist views mainstream. Rhetoric like this is not only wrong on its face; it is also a threat to the foundational ideas that have animated this nation’s history, to the future of a republic whose constant pursuit of a more perfect union has inspired people around the world, and to an increasingly diverse nation that has always struggled to find strength in difference. It has no place in a race for leader of the free world.
All candidates should renounce any groups that hold that Americans of non-European descent have less of a right to this country than their fellow citizens, and any campaign should find it disturbing that avowed white supremacists consider its rhetoric encouraging. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has already made it abundantly clear that she unequivocally disavows this sort of hateful rhetoric. We call on Donald Trump to do the same.
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