Editorial: white supremacists on campus, a response to the response

Last week, the Vanguard published the piece, “Proud? Unapologetic white nationalists prefer pseudonym,” a piece that covers the recent campaign from a self-described “alt-right” group that distributed a white pride flyer on campus. Some have questioned the Vanguard‘s intention in reporting this. Below is a response from Vanguard International Editor, Alex-Jon Earl. 

When I started writing for the Portland State Vanguard, it was because I wanted to bring my unique perspective to the paper. That has not changed. In fact, if anything, that is something I’m even more committed to now. I feel this is something far more important than ever given the times.

I understand the apprehension that some may feel when it comes to the media.

As the “fourth estate,” we are supposed to be the ones keeping the populace informed, fact-checking when necessary, alerting our community of transgressions against society. And yet, some feel that the results of the recent election is largely due to a failing on our part. Frustration with the media, then, is high.

Clearly this frustration is not limited to corporate, nonprofit, and other professional media. Even student media has felt the blowback.

In recent days we have seen our efforts to inform and alert students in these trying times undermined. Certain people have organized, on social media and elsewhere, to discard our papers, disfigure them, or simply leave horrible things in our press box. As an editor and journalist this is offensive, but as myself, a 2-Spirit Comanche person, this is disheartening.

I did not come to Portland State University for this sort of thing.

I was the one who found the white supremacist flyer and identified the group behind it that spurred on the story. If it were not for my diligence, it wouldn’t have been a story. How many students, then, would have been surprised or shocked at what is increasingly becoming regular incidents of hateful defacement?

This is how journalism should work.

I am very proud of how the story turned out, and I’m very glad that the story does a great job of explaining why these people put up this sort of flyer and why they are actively working on campus: they are white supremacists. The sarcastic, appropriated imagery used on the cover and in the article also explains something important: it advertises notice, urges awareness and uses the white supremacist organization’s own efforts for recruitment as a tool to ridicule them.

There isn’t any space on Portland-area campuses for hateful recruitment and propaganda. The Vanguard is making that clear by identifying these tactics in an academically and historically accurate way to utilize what we at PSU are taught in a way that directly confronts them. However, ignoring the nuances of this is creeping too close to the kind of ignorance these white supremacists are preying on.

The Vanguard works hard to bring students away from this precipice in a helpful and unbiased way.

In my work with the Vanguard I have worked to boost marginalized voices. My first works highlighted a queer artist, Logan Lynn, and the Native American Student and Community Center, a center many of you readers may not be well acquainted with. I have worked hard to bring in perspectives that have been overlooked or ignored. I have uplifted our Indigenous Water Protectors at Standing Rock, worked with Las Mujeres to bring notice to Latin Night, and I am working even harder on more stories in the coming weeks centering on marginalized peoples, including more on Indigenous education and resistance.

I can only speak for myself, truly, but when I say I am proud of the Vanguard, I truly mean it.

As a 2-Spirit Comanche, I put my life at risk day in and day out just by living out and freely. I’ve survived violence of all sorts, physical, verbal and emotional, and I will continue to endure because that is the Nʉmʉnʉʉ way. Even when I see inklings of the kind of rhetoric that leads to violence coming from people who otherwise would be on “my side,” I tell myself, as I always do, that my ancestors, from Quanah on one side and Comanche Jack on the other, would tell me that all I can really do is survive.

And that everything else is leading when called to.

Thank you for reading the Vanguard.