The Colombian, a local Vancouver paper, quotes Clark president Bob Knight defending his slow and lackluster response to the distribution of white power materials on his campus. "I just don’t know how many students this really, really affected," Knight said.
Nearly two weeks after the NSM flier distribution, Clark devoted its regularly scheduled "open dialogue" to the topic, on Monday, October 18.
Nathan Goncalves, NSM member and resident of Stevenson, Washington, claimed responsibility for distributing the fliers. He was given the first opportunity to speak to the room of 250 students, faculty, and community members. For three minutes he stood in front of the crowd in a full NSM uniform, boots, and a swastika armband, delivering a fascist recruiting message on behalf of the National Socialist Movement.
Earlier this month, Clark’s attorney general approved of a second round of neo-Nazi fliers to be posted on official college bulletin boards. These fliers delivered a message suggesting people of color are inferior to white people. Knight defended the choice to grant space to the racist fliers.
At the end of August this year, President Knight's contract was renewed until 2013. Knight and the other authorities at Clark have shown precisely the wrong way to respond to fascist organizing, by creating opportunities for it to spread. In their “delay, then dialogue” approach towards genocide-inclined neo-Nazis, these authorities seem to have disrespected and drowned out the voices of people of color, members of the queer community, Jewish people, Leftists and other targets for Nazi hostility.
In response, over 100 students rallied on the campus on November 9 to promote diversity and oppose the actions of the College and the NSM.
The College’s counter-productive response reflects myths about fascism and fascist organizing. Within this framework, there is an open marketplace of ideas, and good ideas eventually triumph over poor ones just as surely as the invisible hand of market economics tends towards prosperity—-don’t intervene and everything will be fine. What this model omits, among other things, is the question of power. As history indicates, fascist political forces pose the question of power from the start, through creating an atmosphere of intimidation against opponents. Their speech reflects and magnifies strategies of violence—-street violence when on the periphery of power, massive structural violence when power is achieved. To pretend that civility is in order, therefore, is to clearly demonstrate that one will stand idly while intimidation takes place, and to give a go-ahead to fascist escalation. The idea that good ideas simply win out on their own, is furthermore an insult to all those throughout history who have had to risk, struggle, and sacrifice security for the purpose of freedom and dignity.
Finally, to give a neo-Nazi space to say that his movement is “about love,” is to sacrifice the concept that words have meanings as well as consequences. It is an improper stance not only for any educator, but for any thinking person.
Rose City Antifascists have contempt for Clark’s handling of this situation. We fully support students, staff and community members who are trying to address the reality of fascist organizing on campus in a more adequate manner.