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March 18, 2015

White Supremacists Target Two Anti-Racist Intellectuals

Two white supremacist groups, National Youth Front (NYF) and Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), have launched a campaign against two intellectuals whose work focuses on race- related issues. The two groups have organized protests on campuses and used the Internet to garner support for their cause.

NYF member John Hess at protest in Arizona

NYF member John Hess at protest in Arizona

NYF, a branch of the white supremacist American Freedom Party (AFP), has targeted Lee Bebout, an associate professor of English at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. Professor Bebout is teaching a controversial course called “U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness.” NYF members and supporters placed fliers declaring Bebout “anti-white” on campus and in his neighborhood. White supremacist web sites such as Stormfront and Daily Stormer then published Professor Bebout’s contact information. He has since received dozens of threatening and harassing emails and phone messages.

In early March, a small group of NYF supporters, including neo-Nazi Harry Hughes of the National Socialist Movement, continued their campaign against Professor Bebout by holding a protest near ASU. Though NYF has tried to establish chapters on various campuses, the only area of real-world activity appears to be at ASU. The group’s so-called director of national chapters, Daxter Reed (aka Daecca Reed) is based in North Carolina. The leader of the group, Angelo John Gage, is a white supremacist based in New Jersey. He ran for U.S. Congress as an AFP candidate in 2014 and has done podcasts on The White Voice, a racist Internet media site.

TYN, founded by white supremacists Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott in May 2013, has promoted a campaign against Tim Wise. Wise, an independent scholar, gives speeches about combating racism at campuses around the country. TYN members and supporters recently protested Wise’s speech at Indiana University at Bloomington on March 11. Thomas Buhls, the head of the TYN chapter at IU—Bloomington, led a group of about 20 supporters who held signs against Wise and about ending “white guilt.” TYN has declared that Wise is anti-white.

According to Buhls, a former Klan member, TYN was joined at the protest by other white supremacists, including neo-Nazi Robert Ransdell and members of hardcore racist skinhead group Supreme White Alliance. Buhls also reported that NYF members joined the protest, which was met by a larger crowd of anti-racist protestors.

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March 21, 2014

Divestment Resolutions Abound on U.S. Campuses This Week

In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, which recently wrapped up after taking place on several dozen college campuses during the month of March, divestment resolutions were introduced on four U.S. college campuses this loyoladivestweek.

Here’s a rundown on the resolutions – two of which passed, two of which were held up – that were introduced this week:

Loyola University – Although the Loyola Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter had disseminated a petition urging the university to withdraw investments in five corporations, the campus was blindsided by the surprise introduction of a divestment resolution in  the Student Senate on Tuesday. The resolution, which passed by a vote of 26-0-2, had not previously been announced and students who sought to oppose it were not given the opportunity to express their perspective.

Arizona State University – Also on Tuesday, a resolution calling on Arizona State University (ASU) to divest from Caterpillar, which provides heavy machinery to the Israeli army, was tabled by the Undergraduate Student Government. The bill was introduced by the group “ASU Divest from Caterpillar Inc.” and it will reportedly be amended and reintroduced by ASU’s SJP chapter in the near future.

University of Michigan – The Central Student Government (CSG) was scheduled to vote on a divestment resolution initiated by the anti-Israel student group “Students Allied for Freedom and Equality” (SAFE). The meeting attracted an overwhelmingly large number of students and as the room became overcrowded, the meeting was moved to another location on campus where an announcement was made that the voting session would be postponed indefinitely. According to the Michigan Daily, the crowd then “pressed up against the stanchions dividing the room and chanted ‘Divest’ at the CSG members for several minutes.” In addition, more than 100 students gathered outside of the Michigan Union to rally in favor of divestment.

The following day, members of SAFE declared that they were conducting a “sit-in” near the student government offices until the CSG would hold a vote on their divestment resolution. The students  took over the space and refused to leave until they were told that they would be arrested. Reports on Twitter indicate that members of the group are currently reconvening for the third day of their “sit-in.”

San Diego State University – San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Student Diversity Commission passed a divestment resolution by a vote of 11-6-2 on March 19. The resolution now will reportedly be brought before the university council.

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June 6, 2012

Troubling BDS News on Campus?

Two developments regarding boycott and divestment activity on college campuses hit the news this week. The first is that the student senate at Arizona State University passed a resolution supporting divestment from a variety of corporations that the proponents claim are “complicit in human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian Territories and Sudan.” The second is that a student-run café at Evergreen State College in Washington State, The Flaming Eggplant Café, voted to boycott Israeli products.

While these announcements tend to cause rejoicing in the anti-Israel community, it is sometimes best to take stock of the real implications of these developments and consider them in their proper context.

In the case of Evergreen, it is not clear that the store previously carried Israeli products and its decision then to “boycott Israeli products” might be heavy on announcement and light on actual product changes. Similarly, there is no evidence that Arizona State University has investments in any of the companies that were cited in the resolution. If the university doesn’t, the resolution is rendered wholly irrelevant.

But even if the university is invested in some of these companies (which included, among others, Boeing, Caterpillar, Motorola and United Technologies), the resolution is worded so blandly that it doesn’t seem like it has any binding authority. The resolution proclaims, “LET IT BE RESOLVED that Arizona State University Undergraduate Student Government supports on-campus divestment from…” [emphasis added] It doesn’t actually call on the university to divest.

It is not likely that these recent developments in the boycott and divestment campaign on campus will have any concrete impact. What is unfortunate, however, is that they have the potential to isolate pro-Israel students and further corrode the atmosphere on these campuses.

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