As an engaged community organization dedicated to racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and women’s rights, we at the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women would urge the University of Chicago leadership to take a critical look at the message Steve Bannon’s invitation sends to the university and surrounding community. Steve Bannon peddles in racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and islamophobic ideology that further marginalizes already underrepresented individuals.
Steve Bannon is one of the most prominent figures in the alt-right movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the alt-right is a set of “far-right ideologies” for which at its core is the idea that “‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.” This ideology embraces “white ethno-nationalism” as a fundamental value. At the heart of the alt-right movement is the idea of white superiority and that white people must have their own state to preserve their culture. Such an ideology is completely inconsistent with the value of fostering a diverse and dynamic campus culture.
We understand the University’s commitment to challenging beliefs and sharing opposition views in order to foster an intellectual discussion. However, we must recognize that there is a difference between opposing views and the normalization of hate speech. When an individual who has scapegoated Muslims, derided the value of women, attacked the LGBTQ community, and pushed for white identity politics is invited to speak, it sends a strong message contrary to the message of inclusion and critical dialogue espoused by the University.
I, personally, as the President of Chicago NOW and an alumna of the college, was very dismayed to hear that invitation was extended on the campus I was privileged to call my home for four amazing years. As a Latina and an ally to marginalized communities, I feel it is necessary to urge my alma mater to hold tight to the values of openness and acceptance that it instilled in me.
President of the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Bachelors of Arts 2015, University of Chicago