Nicholas Fuentes addresses a crowd at East Hall at Iowa State on Wednesday, March 6. The Iowa State Police Department had Fuentes leave the room because he did not have the space reserved. Fuentes moved his speech to the "free speech zone". Fuentes live-streamed on Periscope during this event.

My name is Ben Whittington, and you may know me as the former president of Turning Point USA.

What you don’t know about me is that I disbanded Turning Point on Iowa State’s campus due to their affiliation with the alt-right, because bigotry in anyway is not OK.

Another thing you might not know is that Fuentes and I have met in the past, when he called me a “degenerate” and a reason the “white race is dying." This is why when I heard of Fuentes’ campus visit, I went to the Iowa State Daily.

Cyclones have the right to know when dangerous people are coming to our campus, especially when it’s happening in secret.

The idea that Fuentes should have been ignored is absurd. More people showed up to protest than to listen, and I should know, as I was one of the many protestors. We, as protestors, challenged his ideas and his true colors shone.

Nick Fuentes is a white supremacist, and he came to our campus to recruit. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying:

“The rootless transnational elite know that a tidal wave of white identity is coming. And they know that once the word gets out, they will not be able to stop us. The fire rises!”

The 20 or so people that would have seen Fuentes speak in private instead saw him speak to a crowd of people who challenged him. His ideas came into conflict with our values of community such as diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Those values, the values of Iowa State University, won the day.

Free speech has been a hot topic on campus as of late. What happened with Fuentes’ visit is the epitome of free speech.

One person, with dangerous ideas was given the opportunity to speak, and a group of people with tolerant ideas countered back. This is why free speech and counter protesting is so imperative for the Cyclone community.

Free speech is an exchange of ideas, not oppression, discrimination, or subjugation.

Free speech is cooperation.

While that cooperation may not always be pleasant, it is necessary for a healthy school, a healthy state, and a healthy nation.

This why I am proud to call myself a Cyclone, an Iowan and an American.

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(1) comment

Heather Dunn

Ben Whittington, you have always been someone I respect! Thank you for standing up! God bless you!!!

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