University of Nebraska Lincoln students gathered on Feb. 7 for a “No Nazis on UNL Campus” rally organized by the student organization, UNL Against Hate. The rally was in response to videos posted and circulated by UNL student Daniel Kleve, a self-proclaimed white nationalist.
Kleve was already infamous on the campus for his multiple videos expressing hate and bigotry, and for a photo where he is shown allegedly assaulting a protestor with a flashlight.
Just a few of Kleve’s statements that raised concerns among UNL students and Nebraska’s Anti-Defamation League include:
“I’m a regular person, just going to school,” Kleve said in the video. “I am the most active white nationalist in the Nebraska area.”
“Just because I dress like a normie, a regular person, doesn’t mean I don’t love violence,” he said. “Trust me, I want to be violent. Trust me. Really violent.”
While many students responded with a rally, the university’s official response was much more muted.
“We strongly denounce bigotry and condemn violence. We work hard to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone on our campus,” the statement said. “The campus is comprised of people of diverse backgrounds, with different life experiences… We encourage civil and respectful discussion of ideas and opinions.”
UNO’s Vice Chancellor for student success released a similar statement, saying he could not speak for UNL, but in regards to UNO, “It is important, now more than ever, that we help students confront differing viewpoints without becoming hostile or dangerous to others; that is a critical part of our educational mission.”
Kleve released his own statement. “I was essentially highlighting the fact that violence does no good,” Kleve said. “That we should refrain from violence and be more self-disciplined.”
It seems that until there is a viable threat to student safety, UNL will not take action to expel Kleve from campus. A much different decision than the one made last year when the university fired lecturer Courtney Lawton who was filmed protesting a recruiting event held by Turning Point USA, a conservative student group.
Lawton was a graduate student, Kleve is a white nationalist who attended the Charlottesville protest where a woman was struck and killed by a vehicle driven through a crowd of counter-protestors.
An ugly characteristic of American culture that has operated in some form or another since this country was founded, it is time for universities and the nation to recognize the very real threat of hate groups.
According to a study conducted by the nonpartisan group New America between 2001 and 2015, more Americans were killed by right-wing radicals than by any other demographic. A look back at 2017 would show that the pattern has continued.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that there were roughly 917 hate groups operating in the United States as of 2016. Last year, there was a large spike in the amount of hate crimes carried out.
The Department of Justice has estimated that nearly 260,000 hate crimes were committed every year between 2007 and 2011. Violent crimes, harassment and biases launched because someone like Daniel Kleve decided that race or religion or sexual preference or nationality or political affiliation was enough to inspire hate.
There is no place for hate on college campuses.