White nationalist Richard Spencer at Texas A&M: What people are saying

Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and leader of the so-called “alt-right” movement, gave a speech at Texas A&M University Tuesday night where he stated that the word “racist” is “a fake word” and laid out the tenants of the alt-right movement.

Richard Spencer, a White Nationalist who is scheduled to speak later tonight, takes a brief tour of Texas A&M campus near the Memorial Student Center. Hid invited talk has caused an uproar among students preaching diversity and unity and who gathered peacefully outside the center to protest his appearance December 6, 2016. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Richard Spencer, a White Nationalist who is scheduled to speak later tonight, takes a brief tour of Texas A&M campus near the Memorial Student Center. His invited talk has caused an uproar among students preaching diversity and unity and who gathered peacefully outside the center to protest his appearance December 6, 2016. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

University officials condemned Spencer’s views and organized a counter-rally called “Aggies United,” but maintained that freedom-of-speech principles prevented them from cancelling Spencer’s speech.

The “Aggies United” rally at Kyle Field featured local College Station celebrities and A&M students and was hosted by television actor Hill Harper.

Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, who invoked John 15:13 (“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”)  at the beginning of his speech, spoke of the bond between Americans in general and Aggies in specific, commending the protesters for standing up against hate.

“If you’re a purveyor of hate and divisiveness, and you want to spread that kind of racism, then this is the last campus you should want to come to,” Sharp told the audience.

More: A&M president, chancellor speak at ‘Aggies United’ rally

University president Michael K. Young also spoke and condemned Spencer’s rhetoric.

Young was critical of white nationalism — a creed that critics say veers into white supremacy and anti-Semitism — while saying that differences strengthen a community.

“Our differences enrich us; our differences make us complete,” Spencer said.

A&M quarterback Trevor Knight also made an appearance, espousing his football value of “family over everything.”

People throughout the night tweeted about the rally and voiced their concern and disgust with Spencer’s speech, happening just a few blocks away. Protesters ended up clashing with Spencer supporters at the end of the night, and riot police were eventually called in.

Others commented about Spencer and his rhetoric on Facebook throughout the night.





Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, Philip Jankowski and Marty Toohey contributed to this report.

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