After what transpired outside Parks Library Wednesday night, there are some interesting takeaways from the Nick Fuentes fiasco to reflect on.
It is interesting to consider that, had the Iowa State Daily not ran a front-page story about Fuentes’ potential visit to campus, the turnout for the event would have been miniscule.
The majority of attendees Wednesday were protestors and activists who were there to counter Fuentes. Another portion were spectators who were simply curious to watch events unfold.
Had the Daily not provided Fuentes with free coverage, the number of attendees would have been reduced almost entirely. Most of the Iowa State community (including myself) had never heard of Fuentes until Wednesday morning. Now, thanks to two front-page stories and extensive twitter coverage, he gained a good deal of notoriety.
Fuentes is a charlatan who thrives off attention and the provocation of outrage, both of which he achieved Wednesday thanks to the coverage by Iowa State Daily reporters Alex Connor, Emily Berch, K. Rambo, and others. As journalists who have been outspoken in their opposition of alt-right beliefs (and rightfully so), they unwittingly assisted Fuentes by providing him with the attention he craves.
If the Iowa State Daily had simply ignored this irrelevant provocateur, the protestors and the curious attendees would not have been present, and Fuentes would have been speaking in front of less than a handful of people. Instead, Fuentes gained a significantly larger audience, received a wave of coverage for his speech, and now gets to run with the narrative that he was harassed by protestors and pilloried by the school newspaper.
There does appear to be one major bright point from Wednesday night’s events: the dialogue started by Alexis Holmes and Anthony Labruna. Finding common ground through good-faith discussions about tough issues is something that our campus needs more of. There is far too much demonization of the opposing side and too little productive conversation.
Hopefully this moment can serve as a starting point towards a healthy dialogue between disagreeing groups.
Sharing a mutual opposition to alt-right nationalist ideas will hopefully show groups like the College Republicans, the Black Student Alliance, the College Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America that they have more in common than they realized. I hope they use this as an opportunity to start a dialogue and not for petty fighting over who is to blame for Fuentes’ visit.