(JTA) — Jewish groups and leaders urged a Texas university not to allow the founder of a white supremacist think tank to speak on campus.
Richard Spencer, who recently railed against Jews at an alt-right conference in Washington D.C. — during which audience members gave Nazi salutes — is slated to speak at a private event on the Texas A&M University campus on December 6.
A university representative said that the university did not agree with Spencer’s views and that it had not invited him to speak, but that private individuals were allowed to use the space of the public university, according to The Battalion, the student newspaper.
“[O]ur leadership finds his views as expressed to date in direct conflict with our core values,” said the university’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Amy Smith. “Private citizens are permitted to reserve space available to the public as we are a public university, as is the case here.”
Spencer was invited by a former student who has brought other white nationalists to speak on campus, the Battalion reported.
The New York Times called Spencer the “leading ideologue of the alt-right movement,” a loose far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”
Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, who leads the campus Hillel, called on his Twitter followers on Tuesday to report the event, sharing a link to a university web page that praised campus diversity and condemned hate.
Should we all be reporting the arrival of Nazi leader Richard Spencer at @TAMU to https://t.co/GySnT9JBvL? #HateIsNotAnAggieValue— Rabbi Matt Rosenberg (@rabbimattr) November 23, 2016
“I think for the vast majority of students, even though it’s a conservative student body, they’re definitely against people like (Spencer),” Rosenberg told The Houston Chronicle.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement on Wednesday saying it was “concerned” about Spencer’s planned speech and urged people not to attend the event.
Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, called on Texas A&M to cancel the event.
“This man is one of the worst hatemongers in America, and his white supremacist and other bigoted ideas are sickening. I urge the university to deny him access to any facilities on campus,” Lauder said Thursday in a statement.
Spencer was the final speaker at an alt-right conference earlier this week in Washington, D.C., for his think tank, the National Policy Institute. At the event, Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to protect Jewish interests, and referred to the political commentators as “soulless golems.”
As Spencer finished speaking, several audience members gave a Nazi-like salute. “Hail victory!” the people in the room shouted, according to the New York Times.
Trump later disavowed the event, and said he did not want to “energize” white supremacists.
This story "Will Alt-Right ‘Heil Trump’ Leader Speak at Texas University?" was written by Josefin Dolsten.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.