Last Friday night, the Union of White NYU Students, a “community” on Facebook, posted its first status update.
Linking to a student-run blog addressing diversity issues at New York University, the union’s Facebook admin mused, “What does ‘diversity’ mean other than ‘not white’? I’m not sure there is an answer to this. Is the word ‘diversity’ itself a discriminatory term against whites?”
Subsequent posts expressed sympathy for Rachel Dolezal, called studies of white supremacy “dehumanizing” and iterated that the page is “about celebrating whiteness, not denigrating others.”
At around the same time, similar pages emerged in connection with other colleges in the U.S. and Canada — at the University of California Berkeley, Swarthmore College, the University of Missouri and the University of British Columbia. As of Tuesday morning, there are roughly 30 Facebook pages purporting to represent some form of a “White Students Union,” all of which were created within the past few days, according to a user on Medium who referred to an online spreadsheet of the pages.
Several of the pages feature the same statement of purpose, beginning with a welcome to “students of European descent (and allies)” and concluding with a “vision” of a future in which “every ethnic group has the right to organize and represent themselves and their interests.”
Despite the NYU group’s mention of “weekly meetings,” observers have speculated that these newly formed unions are largely fake, existing only in the realm of social media and without a real presence on the campuses to which they claim to belong.
“These White Student Union accounts are fake — or at least, the on-campus clubs they claim to represent are,” the Daily Beast reports. “Anyone can make a Facebook page for a group at a college they do not attend.”
NYU spokesman Matt Nagel said in a statement to NYULocal that the organization was never registered at the university and that the Facebook page was using the school’s logo illegally and without permission.
“We reject — and we call on others reject — efforts such as this to derail or distort candid, thoughtful discourse on race,” Nagel said.
Andrew Anglin, who runs the blog the Daily Stormer, which has been described as a “neo-Nazi website,” wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post that he has been encouraging the formation of such groups for years, though he denies being directly involved with their sudden rise over the weekend.
While many have called the people behind the Facebook groups “trolls,” Anglin’s e-mail betrayed not a trace of irony about their mandates.
“Whites need to organize and protect their interests in the face of rising Black terrorism,” he wrote. “The goal of a White Student Union would be to push back against this, and also to show Whites across the country that it is okay to be White, it is okay to defend your history and your civilization.”
Anglin’s e-mail is riddled with racist invective against “Blacks,” including a claim that letting African Americans into universities is “charity.”
His response matches the abrasive tone of the Daily Stormer, which is among the few Web sites that have been linked to Dylann Roof, who is facing both state and federal charges arising from the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white extremist groups, has described the blog as a “neo-Nazi” and “white supremacist website.”
The White Students Union wave appears to have started with the “Illini White Students Union,” which accused the Black Lives Matter movement of “disrupting student daily life” and “marginalizing” white students.
The original page was taken down within hours of its formation, but another version went up shortly afterward.
Administrators at Berkeley and Penn State University have issued statements noting that they have requested the pages be taken down.
“This page had no affiliation with our University and we found it disturbing and uncivil,” the statement from Penn State read.
A letter signed by the chancellor of UC Berkeley iterated that the page appeared to be “a part of a national effort, and did not emanate” from the campus.
“While UC Berkeley honors First Amendment rights,” the letter continued, “we do not endorse this attempt to create conflict and make light of the efforts of activists, locally and nationally, who have worked hard to hold us all accountable for providing a campus climate where every student is safe, welcomed and respected.”
The user on Medium encouraged students on affected campuses to “troll the trolls” by responding to “white supremacist hate with dumb Vines” and blanketing the groups’ Facebook walls with cat videos.
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