Letter to the Editor: Response to the events of Jan. 18

The truth is that they are not here to debate anyone. They are here to stir people up and amplify their message, as distorted and despicable as it is. 

Stephan G. Schneider

I have plenty to say about their anti-semitism and hate speech but I wanted to address another angle that also applies to all visiting hate protesters on our campus.

These events are disingenuous and are taken from the classic alt-right playbook (search “alt-right playbook” on YouTube for a great series explaining the tactics).

They spend months studying specific “facts” and talking points in preparation and come to a college campus to attract a certain type of person. They want people who haven’t prepared for the debate (imagine going to court without preparing) and triggering people so that those who have the most riled up emotions will step up to speak. They then use those emotions and their own preparation to set the terms of the conversation. On top of this, the notion of “prove me wrong” is designed to give them control. There is a reason our Justice system uses the presumption of innocence; people presenting a claim must prove their point. The rules of logic and debate demand that one cannot feasibly disprove a notion.

Having control of the conversation, they then pair these tactics with multiple logical fallacies to look like they are winning the debate. They constantly change the goal posts, they use non sequiters, and ad hominem attacks to wiggle out of any argument made from a competent debater facing them.

There is a reason they don’t advertise their future events. They may hide behind “safety” but they really don’t want people doing their homework so that someone can properly debate them and call out their bad facts and logical fallacies. Someone prepared could have countered their claims about Hitler and “loving Jews” by mentioning Hitler’s final solution, citing specific passages from his book or his speeches, and explaining the historic context of anti-semitism through even the most refined methods (such as saying Jews control society).

It’s all about chaos for these trolls. They use chaos to amplify their message. They rouse up the crowd to get people angry; this makes them look like the reasonable, calm, and rational ones. They move the goalposts in their arguments and constantly change topic to disorient their debate opponent; this makes them look smarter and like they are winning the argument.

The truth is that they are not here to debate anyone. They are here to stir people up and amplify their message, as distorted and despicable as it is.

They hide behind freedom of speech by claiming they love everyone, including Jews, but if you see their videos online talking about the event , it’s clear that they hate the Jewish people (of course they will conveniently change their definition of hate to meet their ends). In any case, Fau’s status as a public university means they have a leg up to host events like this. They know that people will not be prepared enough to properly call them out on their facade and truly expose their hatred and prejudices.

I call on our student community to actively prepare for these types of events. Take debate and logic classes in our communications and philosophy departments. For student clubs and organizations like Hillel, train someone to constantly be ready for these visitors on campus so that we can beat them at their own game. Have a binder with everything you need at the ready so that when you hear such people are on campus, you can effectively confront them. Work with faculty to develop your arguments and strategy for such instances (FAU as an institution may not be able to stop speech from happening but it can help students educate themselves). Make sure you film the encounter on your own so that if they don’t upload your person beating them, you can show their followers the truth thus embarrassing them. Make sure people manage their rightfully high emotions in the area; come up with a way to have observers effectively counter protest; absolutely no yelling or other activity that lets them call our community savage. Let your chosen champion do the work (and feel free to have tag teams).

I’m deeply saddened to see our campus repeatedly used by bigots to further their hateful message. This event hit closer due to my ties to Judaism. I hope these ideas help us fight these invaders. Personally, I see them as losers looking to impress their other friends as they come out from the dark corners of our society. They feel emboldened and use the above-mentioned tactics to come into the light. As cheesy as the metaphor is, once we know their tactics, we can push them back into the shadow.

Go Owls!

Stephan G. Schneider, Class of 2019.

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