An Open Letter To The Office Of The President
RE: The On-Campus Visit of Richard Spencer
To Whom It May Concern,
I hope this letter reaches you in good spirits and in a swift, timely manner.
I intend for this message to be made public because I feel there may be many others who agree with my thoughts. This letter is intended to be an open yet respectful form of constructive criticism in regards to how Richard Spencer's visit to our campus was handled. Humans are flawed and it should be no surprise to anyone that I possess several flaws myself, yet I believe this subject requires a form of open dialogue between both the students of Texas A&M, and those who preside over positions of power, and inherently have the ability to enact positive change.
Aristotle once said, "Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors that may be made on my part, and for any sections that may seem to be directly attacking you or anyone involved in the process. I am not an English major by any means, rather as stated earlier I simply intend for this letter to be an expression of my own opinions and beliefs, and my views on how things may be better addressed in the future.
That being said, I would like to first offer some background information about myself. My parents divorced when I was a year old and throughout my childhood I was raised by two polar opposite family units. My Father and Step-Mother raised me with strict Southern Baptist morals and beliefs. I am sure you can understand as to what I am referring to and I feel that it is not necessary to delve further into detail. On the other side of things my Mother raised me around an extremely wide and diverse collection of sexual orientations, political views and religious beliefs. These two very different lifestyles ultimately defined the type of person I would develop into later on in life. I have become the tolerant, reverent, courteous and understanding person that I can only hope I will be able to raise my own children (when the time comes) up to be. I have seen both worlds, the harsh often condescending and intolerable version and the kind hearted, respectful and loving version. I would like to add that both of these upbringings, however different they were, saw to it that I felt loved, cared for and that I was raised into a respectful young man. They were simply different, and as the years go on and our society weaves its way through the ebb and flow of this experience we call "Life", we as a people have come to accept diversity more and more.
My early adulthood saw me joining the United States Marine Corps at eighteen years old, straight out of high school. Throughout my service once again I was exposed to a large and diverse collection of individual opinions and beliefs. These experiences continued to enhance my developing ideology of tolerance and respect towards all mankind and also furthered my intellectual and spiritual growth. Often I find myself biting my tongue in polite company, as many in my religion (Baptist) do not share the same values and opinions that I feel so strongly about. It is in these moments that I find myself being eternally thankful for being able to experience two different upbringings. I was Honorably Discharged from active duty in 2014 and this letter is currently being written to you from the perspective of a 25 year old, United States Marine Corps Veteran and sophomore undergraduate student.
Now on to the stuff that is weighing heavily on my heart.
To start off, I respectfully disagree with the way the school decided to publicize this event. In my opinion, the statement made on behalf of the Aggie Family was pre-mature. With the official statement being released several days prior to the arrival of Mr. Spencer, I believe it directly resulted in a pulsating and ever increasing feeling of unrest and animosity in the student body and surrounding populace. I would liken it to the effect of setting a timer on a bomb, while knowing the exact moment that all of the tension and unease surrounding the matter would come bursting forth in an uncontrollable chaos. I see the intentions with releasing the statement early and understand that a formal denouncement of this event was necessary in order to preserve our Aggie core values. However, I believe these good-hearted intentions ultimately resulted in the media induced frenzy that took part during his visit.
I would like to urge you, and everyone else involved in the process, to reflect on this and in the future consider doing things differently. As we all know by now, silence does not equal consent. Perhaps in the future such a statement would be better suited to be released after the fact, as a means of not only silent protest, but also as a way to decrease hostility and animosity among the student body.
In regards to the "Aggies United" event held on campus, again I feel that this well intentioned display of respect and unity was improperly utilized. Although it was not directly implied, this event was seen by myself and many others as an indirect attempt to stifle the right to free speech that every citizen including Mr. Spencer and his cronies are entitled to. It was intended to be an event where students could stand together against the repulsive rhetoric coming from Mr. Spencer. Ultimately, this event attracted a large number of people who otherwise may not have even wasted time coming to campus today. While "Aggies United" succeeded in some areas, it failed catastrophically in others. Not only did it succeed in uniting the student body in solidarity against an oppressive and vile ideology, but also in demonstrating the concept that the only way to drown out an incessant noise is with an even louder noise.
I believe this event would have been better suited on a different day and time, perhaps a day prior or a day after. The old adage, "The pen speaks mightier than the sword." comes to mind and I implore you to consider a different frame of mind when dealing with any unpleasant occurrences such as this in the future. Sometimes standing together in silent yet mutually understood solidarity is better than unleashing the emotionally charged tensions of an increasingly uneasy populace at once.
As a final thought, I would like to express my intense distaste towards the actions of many of the Aggies who were protesting during Mr. Spencer's speech. Quite frankly I find their behavior just as abhorrent as the Alt-Right ideology. What began as a calm and collective display of disagreement among the student body, turned into a display of aggression and dogmatism that goes against everything we stand for as Aggies. Once again we can consult the old-timers proverb, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
A protest designed to vilify the hate speech being spread by Spencer and his constituents, ultimately morphed into the same monster it was designed to combat. The words that were heard coming from a group of protestors attempting to enter the MSC were, in my opinion, laced with more hatred and chauvinism than anything said within the confines of that private conference hall. The fact that this group of individuals found it acceptable and even more so NECESSARY, to incite violence directed towards police is absolutely unacceptable. These officers were there to protect everyone's safety, and attempting to break through their lines shows a complete disregard to decent human behavior.
The Memorial Student Center is one of our most hallowed locations on campus, and the meaning behind it is engrained into the very fabric of this fine institution. Countless service members from every conceivable walk of life paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve the very freedoms that these protestors were attempting to suppress, among those the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Attempting to disgrace the very thing that our brothers and sisters shed blood for, again, is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. On behalf of all Aggies, I would like to personally apologize for the behavior of my fellow students.
In closing, I would like to step aside from my indifferences and thank you, from the depths of my heart, for standing up for every person, of every walk of life, who has experienced oppression and blatant disrespect at the hands of narrow-minded individuals. The indignation felt by these individuals and groups is mutually felt throughout the entire Aggie family. While platforms and ideologies that promote intolerance and unjust treatment do not have a place in civilized conversation, we must work together as a cohesive unit to fight back against such injustices in a responsible, professional and respectful manner. It is our honor and duty to respect the men and women who fought side by side to combat the evil that lurks in the dark recesses of humanity, waiting to strike out at those who have no means to defend themselves. I have faith in all Aggies, that they will continue to strive to ascertain the means of equality that every human being is entitled to.
In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy
Class of 2018
Cpl / USMC / Ret'd