An Open Letter to the Trent Conservatives

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

Your membership was antagonized by the prospect of a conversation concerning white privilege taking place on campus. This event occurred on March 12, but went public on the TCSA Facebook two weeks prior. Within an hour, your reactions were public. Your reaction was childish, and your reaction was extreme. Before researching the academic term “whiteness” further or looking into the speaker and his typical material — you were vitriolic on public Facebook posts, Twitter, angry emails to Trent representatives and calls to media. You decided immediately that this conversation could only be directly about you and that, as it was not ordained in the cozy inglenook of your ideology, it must thereby be racist. A professor even offered to sit down and chat with you, to explain all of this over coffee.

With your decided inability to engage this conversation as anything but a racist attack, you produced a media cover that fed directly the delusions of neo-Nazis concerning an institutionalized effort to attack and commit a genocide against white people. Even now, the articles produced in Postmedia, bred solely from your own reactions, can still be found in a forum encouraging the believers of the neo-Nazi website Stormfront to “go Viking mode” on “even the minority scumbags… you know who.” Your media coverage invited the presence at the event of a woman who was fired from Rebel Media for flirting too openly with white supremacists as whiteness descended on Charlottesville to demand that “Jews will not replace us.” This same woman will happily look at a camera to state the 14 Words, and laugh. This same woman exited campus on the day of the event stating that “The war is inevitable.” You still champion this woman as you position yourselves as the victims of racism. For a group that purports to denounce anti-Semitism, you have yet once to denounce these results of your own efforts.

The proximity of your group’s opinion on this issue to Faith Goldy is deeply troubling, and we would hope would cause self-reflection on your behalf. It is suspect that as individuals who feel passionate about freedom of speech you were so quick to tear down this event. It is suspect that as individuals who fight the notion of recognizing people’s identities as appendages to a very real oppression you were so quick to appropriate that language to fight this event’s occurrence. Your publications nowhere concerned the academic validity of the concept of ‘whiteness;’ they concerned only the singular occurrence of a conversation. When the defenders of free speech scandalize not the content but the very event of another’s exercise of speech, then it may be held that this defense is a tenuous construct of ulterior motives.

Some of you attended the event and we thought, “Wow, maybe they’ll learn something today.” Instead, you live-streamed and recorded the event, only to take the speaker’s words out of context and continue crying “racism” against yourselves. Had you listened, you would have heard the re-iteration of the simple definition of whiteness. You would have understood that the speaker was in no way targeting or “vilifying” white people. You would have understood better how whiteness harms people of colour and Indigenous folks. You might have been able to look around and sense the ways in which the questions you asked hurt and oppressed the folks of colour in the room.

We’re not sure you understand the complete impact of your actions. You repeatedly invite and welcome right-wing reactionaries, people who profit from the use of dog-whistle tactics that inspire hatred amongst white people for minorities. You welcomed these presences with homemade buttons that displayed the hashtag #DareToDissent. This phrase was first coined by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in reference to a famous mural on Salisbury Street in Raleigh, North Carolina. This mural depicts racialized folks exercising their right to protest – a right that they haven’t always had. Thank you for using this hashtag; you gave students the opportunity to see what real dissent is in contrast to your complicity. #DareToDissent is not your “conservative” hashtag. If you are looking for some original alternatives, here are some suggestions that accurately represent your intentions: #DareToBeACharlatan #DareToBeTransphobic #DareToUpholdTheStatusQuo.


Some very concerned students

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