Texas State University is this week’s ground zero in our campus speech debate. The most recent controversy was triggered by an opinion column by student Rudy Martinez on November 28th in The University Star titled “Your DNA is an abomination.” While insisting that he cannot by definition be racist, Martinez declares that “white death will mean liberation for all.” Martinez is a racist and the column is deeply disturbing. However, as will come as no surprise to regulars on the blog, I still support his write to publish such views. My concern is that universities continue to be selective in affording free speech rights to students. It is doubtful that the university would be so circumspect if the the column called for the death of minorities. UPDATE: The student columnist has been fired by the newspaper.
Martinez told The College Fix that “[t]hough my language, especially when I claim to have only ever met ‘12 decent white people,’ could be deemed as hyperbolic (just barely), it has accomplished its goal: starting a conversation and outing racists.” He continues with a position used by racists on campus across America: that they cannot be racist because only white people can be racists:
“… Was the piece racist? Nope; racist attitudes come from a position of power. The only group who have ever held true power in this nation are those who call themselves ‘white.’”
It is a transparently convenient and entirely unsupportable claim made by non-white racists to excuse their open racism. Racism is not about power; it is about prejudice. Martinez has clearly met more than a dozen “decent white people” but he could not see that decency past his own prejudice. It is the same reason why he thinks that it is ok to denounce an entire race as having flawed DNA and better off dead.
Martinez’ column no doubt was thrilling to read for those who relish racist rhetoric:
“Ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all … accept this death as the first step toward defining yourself as something other than the oppressor,” Martinez wrote in his column. “Until then, remember this: I hate you because you shouldn’t exist. You are both the dominant apparatus on the planet and the void in which all other cultures, upon meeting you, die.”
Martinez says that she is satisfied that she has forced people to think about race. That she has but not in a way that faculty and students would have hoped. There are real and pressing issues of racial discrimination that need to be addressed and discussed. People like Martinez offer racism to combat racism and keep that dialogue from occurring.
Martinez, a self-described Marxist, has previously shown the same lack of judgment in his view of the ideal government in calling for a Marxist/Leninist government that ruined the Russian and imposed authoritarian rule over much of Eastern Europe. A Bolshevik Revolution, according to Martinez, is “the only way to achieve a lasting peace and avoid oppression.”
In the end, Martinez is just another racist on campus. I do not support calls to defund this newspaper. Students should be allowed to write and read divergent, even disturbing views. The concern is not the impact of such low-grade writing but the response to it. Universities continue to treat speech differently in declaring some writings like Martinez’ to be obnoxious while declaring other writings to be hate speech. The result is a de facto system of censorship that deals more harshly with views on one end of the spectrum of speech. As I have previously said, I continue to believe that the solution for bad speech is more speech — not speech regulation. Martinez’ racist views will fail because they are low-grade and hateful. The same can be said for those expressing prejudice against minorities. They all belong in the ashcan of history. However, they will only be defeated when free speech prevails for everyone regardless of viewpoint.