My father grew up in the Soviet Union. My own grandfather was also faced with a choice between betraying his beliefs, and being executed during Stalin’s purges. Like Nina Spencer’s grandfather, he refused to compromise his beliefs.
Millions of people died in Stalin’s purges; no survivor or descendant gets a monopoly on interpreting what that means.
Richard Spencer’s true intent comes straight from his own mouth, not “the media.” “America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men,” he said at a recent speech at Texas A&M University. “An African-American could never be part of my family,” he told the BBC in September.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage. What creates hatemongering and bigotry is telling anyone who doesn’t share your heritage they have to leave, which is exactly what Spencer is saying: “What I would ultimately want,” he told NPR, is “a safe space effectively for Europeans. … It would be a place for white Americans.”
All of my ancestors had pale skin color. They came from Germany, France, Scotland and Russia. They did not share a “white heritage.” There is no such thing. What we do have is an American heritage, one that belongs to all people who live here. Black people have been in America almost exactly as long as pale-skinned people have, centuries before “Europe” even existed as an idea.
But hatemongering and bigotry cannot be solved by treating the Spencers the way that they would like to treat people of color. Nobody should be making Nina Spencer feel unsafe in the town she chooses to call home and raise her daughter in. The Spencers have a right to hold their beliefs, to express them, and to live, peacefully, wherever they choose.
So does everybody else, no matter what their skin color or cultural heritage.
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