Last week, controversial speaker and white nationalist Richard Spencer was working out at the Old Town Sport&Health gym where he is a member, minding his own business, when C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, recognized him and got in his face.
“Not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi,’ ” Fair says she told him. “I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap — that this country belongs [to people like you]. . . . As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable.”
Spencer called for a trainer, who happened to be black, to stop Fair and allow him to go back to working out.
“Seriously? This superior race of a white man needed the help of a female African American? What kind of martial race member is he?” Fair wrote in a post about the incident. Fair continued to harass Spencer, and another gym member stepped in to defend him. Fair said she told the woman, “Right now you’re being ignorant, and you’re actually enabling a real-life Nazi.”
So, naturally, Old Town Sport&Health terminated the professor’s membership for bullying and harassing other members.
Just kidding! It terminated Spencer’s membership for having the audacity to hold different views than Professor Fair. Whether Alexandria kicks him out of town on the same theory, as Fair believes is the right thing to do, is unknown.
Boy I hate it when people make me defend racists. I especially hate it when smug, self-righteous totalitarians and noodle-spined, unprincipled gym owners make me defend racists. Nonetheless, Spencer was the abused victim here, Fair was the offender, and she, not he, should have been told to work out somewhere else.
I’m so weary of reading about restaurants that give discounts to diners who pray, and bar owners who declare that no Democrats are welcome and Maine propane dealers who tell their customers that they can freeze to death if they voted for Donald Trump. I’m tired of pointing out what should be obvious to everyone in a pluralistic society, but suddenly isn’t, particularly, it seems, to proto-totalitarians like the Georgetown professor, who is doubtless hard at work indoctrinating her young charges into believing that those with non-conforming views should have their rights taken away for the greater good. I detest Spencer’s views, but I consider Fair and her kind the far greater threat to the nation, in part because there are so many of them.
Why? She is a greater threat because her version of society doesn’t work, and soon devolves into armed camps. As I wrote in a post called, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there,
I know, I know: Neo-Nazis are really bad. Yet I don’t want my freedom to participate in life and society to be limited by someone else’s judgments about my beliefs or politics. Listen to the rhetoric from angry Clinton supporters since the election. If you want to enforce immigration laws, you hate Latinos. If you think the unborn deserve rights, you are a misogynist. If you voted for Trump, you are a blight on humanity. Thanks to the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters and the tacit approval of some well-placed politicians, police officers have been refused service in various establishments… The argument that this group or that group is special and doesn’t deserve the same courtesy and service as other groups is simply a rationalization born of bias, like… the position that the Vice President Elect, alone among all the millions of audience members who are allowed to attend theatrical performances as part of the community, ought to be subjected to personal harassment based on his political beliefs.
If we, as a culture, approve of this abusive treatment of the alt-right, then we are approving similar treatment when the group being discriminated against is the Democratic Party, the ACLU, a mosque, the Shriners, the Boy Scouts, NARAL, or a newspaper editorial board. Rights mean nothing if the most unpopular, most controversial, most offensive individuals and organizations cannot exercise them….This is a slippery slope that leads right to the end of the principles and liberties that make the United States an ethical nation, and perhaps a nation at all.
It would be just wonderful if the members of that Alexandria gym collectively confronted the ownership in support, not of Spencer, but of basic American principles of fairness and justice, and demanded 1) that there be no ideological test for membership, and 2) that members who harass other members are the ones who lose their privileges, not the harassed.
It would be wonderful, but it won’t happen.