Following white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Tuesday night address on their campus, Jewish students and faculty at Texas A&M are pleased with the response of their school community.
“We are really proud of him for standing up for all of us,” senior Dan Rosenfield told the Forward, praising Texas A&M Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, who organized a silent demonstration against the event and confronted the “alt-right” leader at a press conference held before the speech.
Rosenberg got some criticism on social media for that exchange, in which the rabbi didn’t respond when Spencer compared Zionism to white nationalism.
“It’s a tough circumstance. I’m very proud of him for speaking up and being able to say anything at all,” college senior Aaron Blasband said. “Richard Spencer had a witty comeback, but Matt did a great job.”
Rosenfield and Blasband both said they attended the “Aggies United” event that university officials put on in the campus stadium in response to Spencer’s appearance. The event featured a range of speakers and acts, including the octogenarian Holocaust survivor Max Glauben.
Blasband said the event had a “very good vibe.” According to Ha’aretz, Glauben’s granddaughter, a senior at the university, was present in the stadium as he spoke.
She recalled a visit with her grandfather to the concentration camp in which he was imprisoned: “I remember sitting in the gas chamber with him and he kept saying, ‘Life must go on.’ You have to pull yourself up. Goodness wins. I just never thought we’d have to deal with this.”
Dianne Kraft, a dean at the university’s medical college, told Ha’aretz that she saw cause for optimism in the campus response to Spencer. “I’ve never seen such a huge outcry here,” she said to the paper. “My father was in the U.S. Air Force, so I grew up all over. I was a teenager in Germany and visited Dachau with my mother in 1966, before it was fixed up. I remember seeing the claw marks on the wall. And there was still this stench. That’s as much of a sense of the Holocaust any of us should have to take.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.