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Jared Taylor speech at ASU widens rift with Republican student groups – The Arizona Republic

Plans for a white supremacist to speak to students at Arizona State University on Sept. 2 have generated a backlash on campus, including from the university’s largest conservative student organization.

College Republicans United announced on Monday that they are hosting Jared Taylor, who has espoused racist views for decades, for a visit to the Tempe campus. The student organization is a more conservative splinter group of the traditional ASU College Republicans.

In the 1990s, Taylor founded the New Century Foundation, a white nationalist think tank, and managed the organization’s racist American Renaissance Magazine, which stopped running in print in 2012 but maintains an avid online following. He calls himself a “race realist” and opposes racial integration at schools while asserting that Black and Hispanic people are more likely than white people to commit crime and carry disease.

In 2011, Taylor wrote a book entitled “White Identity”which is centered on the idea that people from all races want to remain apart and that diversity, far from serving as a source of strength, is actually just a harbinger of social conflict.

The title of his planned lecture at ASU is: “If We Do Nothing: A Defense of White Identity Politics.”

Members of the traditional ASU College Republicans group has received angry phone calls from people who think they are hosting Taylor. Due to that, the group has publicly criticized College Republicans United.

“Our great nation was founded upon the idea that ‘all men are created equal’ and that idea, as Calvin Coolidge said, is final,” the organization said in a public statement released on Twitter.

“By hosting a ‘race realist,’ CRU is abandoning their obligations as Republicans and making bedfellows of racists. To do so is wholly depart from the founding of both our great nation and the Grand Old Party and College Republicans at Arizona State University strongly condemn CRU’s actions.”

The larger College Republicans United of Arizona posted a response to that statement on Twitter, which was retweeted by the ASU chapter.

“There isn’t a place in the world where white nationals aren’t being systematically colonized or discriminated against,” the statement said. “The fact the fake (College Republicans) use leftwing talking points to condemn ASU CRU for allowing Jared Taylor to discuss this evolving crisis proves which side they are on.”

Ren Ramsey, state representative for Republicans United, told The Republic via text message, “There are some organizations and people on campus, both student and faculty/staff who are not happy with this. Some extremists are demanding the event be canceled and or the ASU CRU be removed as a student organization. Such demands are deeply anti-intellectual and unAmerican and don’t accord with ASU’s beliefs as a university of higher education. We don’t support them and are glad to hear ASU administration does not either.”

ASU won’t intervene with speaker

The planned campus lecture comes amid a climate of conservatives questioning free speech rights on college campuses, with many saying that their voices are often silenced.

Navigating the landscape has created problems for some universities when passions are high on both sides. ASU doesn’t plan to intervene in this situation.

“Arizona State University permits registered student organizations to host guest speakers and use university facilities for student events,” the university’s Media Relations Director Veronica Sanchez said in an emailed statement. “The presence of an invited speaker on campus does not in any way imply university endorsement.”

Student and community groups are joining the College Republicans in condemning Taylor’s visit. The Phoenix Anarchist Federation put out a call on social media urging members to “flood the phones” in an effort to push the university to cancel the event.

This isn’t the first time CRU has found itself mired in controversy.

In March 2019, the group hosted an event with Tim Gionet, a far-right media personality known as “Baked Alaska” who’d spoken at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Just days later, breakaway members of the group exposed a history of racist and antisemitic text messages and photos sent by leadership in private group chats. The organization formally apologized in the weeks following.

Fault lines show among young GOPers

ASU College Republicans are a traditional conservative university group. Students organize on behalf of Arizona political candidates, attend pro-life rallies and meet with statewide elected officials, among other activities.

The organization’s president, ASU sophomore Isaac Humrich, was putting up street signs for a client Tuesday when he got word of the CRU event.

“We were disappointed” Humrich said. “We weren’t exactly shocked. ASU College Republicans United has a checkered history. Generally speaking, we try not to legitimize them by acknowledging their existence. However, after we were misidentified several times by well-meaning folks, we decided we needed to put something out.”

CRU, despite a Twitter presence that is more robust than that of the College Republicans, has a very small foothold on campus, Humrich said. His organization tries to keep it that way.

The confrontation between the groups is a new spin on the argument of the limits of free speech on college campuses.

Conservatives and collegiate Republican groups across the country have typically sided with eliminating safe zones in favor of what they see as a key pillar of the land of the free. Just weeks ago, speakers at an education panel hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation counseled Republican students on what to do if they feel silenced.

“The land of the free is now the home of the easily offended,” said Sarah Parshall Perry, the event moderator and senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Our First Amendment freedoms should unify the nation, but unfortunately, there is some division.”

In this case, that divide goes right through young Republicans.

Gregory Svirnovskiy is a Pulliam Fellow at the Arizona Republic. You can follow him on Twitter @gsvirnovskiy or reach him by email at gregory.svirnovskiy@gannett.com 

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