In light of recent events by a self-described member of the American Freedom Party to organize a student chapter at UW-Madison, a group of students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff from a wide range of backgrounds and political perspectives have joined together as the Student Coalition for Progress to stand united in our opposition to white supremacy at UW-Madison.
The American Freedom Party is a white supremacist organization and stands opposed to a multiracial, pluralistic society. The group’s official Facebook page features an article published by “Conservative-Headlines.org” describing the party’s platform: “The American Freedom Party, formerly known as the American Third Position, is a registered political party that is described as representing the interests and issues of White people. The party’s platform includes prioritizing white supremacy values and promoting a strong anti-immigration stance.” UW-Madison Chancellor similarly acknowledged that the American Freedom Party is “a recognized hate group.
We, the Student Coalition for Progress, issue the following declaration:
1.) We oppose white supremacist values and will actively resist any attempt to organize around them within the UW-Madison community. We call upon all UW-Madison community members to immediately join in these efforts.
2.) The term “alt-right” is a euphemism for white supremacy. The term “alt-right,” short for alternative right, was meant to indicate a rejection of the norms of contemporary conservatism, and specifically its embrace of colorblindness, and its acceptance of the terrain of a post-Civil Rights Movement world where racial messages had to at least be communicated in a non-racial register. The alternative right is “alternative” because it explicitly embraces the politics of white supremacy that the mainstream right must conceal. White supremacist ideology promotes the political, economic, and/or physical subjugation or elimination of all peoples by the white race. This goal is necessarily predicated upon the destruction or marginalization of entire categories of humans. We reject any so-called distinction between “alt-right” and white supremacy.
3) We demand Chancellor Blank to reconsider her position on the notion of enhanced criminal background checks for future UW-Madison applicants. This is not an issue of lax criminal background checks. Rather, the attempted formation of a hate group on campus is part of a recognizable pattern of white supremacy and racist violence at the UW-Madison that must be urgently addressed by administration and the broader UW-Madison community before it escalates further. In just the past two years, spectators at a Badgers football game wore a costume depicting Barack Obama wearing a noose, a student in a dining hall was pushed, spat on, and subjected to racist verbal abuse; a campus fraternity was sanctioned for failing to address “persistent reports of discriminatory behavior”, to name only a handful of the 84 individual reports of hate incidents at UW-Madison in the 2015-2016 school year alone. It is clear that there is an emerging pattern of white supremacist violence on campus which violates the UW-Madison’s stated mission to “Embody, through its policies and programs, respect for, and commitment to, the ideals of a pluralistic, multiracial, open and democratic society.”
The call for increased criminal background checks of UW-Madison applicants is a misdiagnosis of the problem.
In fact, further consideration of criminal history in the application process would almost certainly hinder UW-Madison administration’s ability to fulfill their commitment to “embodying the ideals of a…multiracial…society.” Research shows that underrepresented groups such as Black Folks and Latinos would are already disproportionately harmed by the consideration of criminal history in the application process because these groups are searched, arrested, and incarcerated at disproportionately higher rates than other racial groups—nationally, Black Folks are incarcerated at least 8 times as often than White People, and Wisconsin itself is among the national leaders in rate of Black imprisonment. We urge Chancellor Blank to reconsider her position on criminal background checks so as to be in keeping with her commitment to the UW-Madison Mission Statement to “Embody, through its policies and programs, respect for, and commitment to, the ideals of a pluralistic, multiracial, open and democratic society.”
The Student Coalition for Progress calls upon all UW-Madison students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members to join together in resistance to white supremacy on campus and beyond, and urge you to stand with us in affirming the our commitment to an open and multiracial campus. We say NO to hate, NO bigotry, and NO to the white supremacist “alt-right” on our campus! Student Coalition for Progress – Madison