Anne Gunderson
Published in

Anne Gunderson

Your Defense of White Supremacists is Stupid and Boring and You Should Keep it to Yourself

Full time Chicago Booth professor and part time Matrix villain, Luigi Zingales, recently held a town hall to defend his invitation to Steve Bannon to speak at the university. Under the increasingly common assumption that all white men have something nuanced and interesting to add to long-settled “debates,” students and faculty watched as he offered his hottest takes on why we should all spend more time listening to white supremacists. Though I didn’t attend because literally anything else would have been a better use of my time, the Sun Times provided some of his best quotes from the occasion. In an effort to never have to hear another tired, intellectually dishonest argument in favor of these trashcans receiving a platform anywhere, I’ve pulled those quotes to explain why your opinion is stupid and boring.

“In spite of the character of the guy, I think he was able to interpret and understand a feature of the American people that we, academics, missed.”

Knowing that the country is fully of racists does not imply that you have a unique understanding of the American people. In fact, if you ask any black person (which obviously he did not), they will tell you the same thing that Bannon managed to figure out, that white people will do everything in our power to maintain our power even if it means destroying ourselves in the process, especially when we feel threatened. And while there are too few black people in academia, black academics exist. Perhaps don’t speak for them, because they missed nothing. You did.

“Everybody at the University of Chicago was shocked on November 7 when the results came in.”

“Everybody” is a strong word. White people, as a unit, are mad predictable. Those of us who can pick up on patterns and have a ninth grade understanding of American history were not shocked. I, personally, do not need Steve Bannon to explain to me why white people make destructive decisions. I’ve read books.

(When asked if he would invite Hitler to speak): “I think I would distinguish early Hitler from later Hitler.”

This is definitely my favorite quote from the event because I can confidently say I’ve never heard anyone make this argument. In the words of Eve Ewing, a UChicago professor worth respecting, are we really talking about Hitler like an indie band? Is that where we’re at? Are these the distinctions we’re making? Ok.

“I think it would have been very useful to know ahead of time what [Hitler] was about. If the world had known earlier what Hitler was standing for, I think there would have been a better fate, no?”

In the prophetic words of modern philosopher, Don Lemon, you can go read a book. Preferably one on critical race theory. But if you’re as dedicated as you seem to be to not listening to black people, pick up Mein Kampf. Published almost a decade before the start of the Holocaust, Hitler, himself, explains what he was standing for, providing the world with more than enough time to dictate a better fate. But I feel you, the book wasn’t all that popular until after millions of people died. If only he had had a chance to speak at a university.

“The question is: Is this [racism] all that he is, or is there something else?”

Nope! That’s it! That’s all this sentient bucket of toxic waste is. Trust me. Can we dead this assumption that someone is smart because of their race, gender, and/or title? Bannon believes that certain people are intrinsically inferior because of their race despite years on years on years of research that says the opposite. The same way we assume flat-earthers slept through k-12 is the same assumption we should make of racists. And the more you try to convince me that maybe, possibly this particular racist has something meaningful to share with the world, the more convinced I become that you kinda sorta share his beliefs.

“I think it would be very sad if somehow I were to be forced to disinvite him, and certainly that will play on the narrative that there is no space for other ideas on campus.”

I’m glad we’re ending with this because I’m couldn’t possibly be any more tired of having “WHAT ABOUT FREE SPEECH” screamed at me. Here’s the thing about racism and white supremacy: it’s been around for thousands of years ever since the first white guy showed up in Africa and decided that black people were savages, undeserving of the land they stood on. If you’re truly curious about these ideas, oh-em-gee, there’s so many books, movies, tv shows, and flashcards that I could provide that fully and completely explain the idiocy of white supremacy. We’ve got this shit figured out. In fact, we’ve made tons of room on campuses across the world that cover this topic (hint: check the library). What there is no room for is willfully ignorant Jabba-the-Hutt look-alikes spewing the hate speech that has left millions of people dead and disenfranchised in America and across the world. That is the narrative we’re trying to play on and you aren’t brilliant or special or interesting for acting as a contrarian to it. You’re boring and stupid.

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Anne is a friend of all things nuanced, inspiring, and thoughtful.

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