A speech by the British National Party’s (BNP) Nick Griffin, a well-known racist who’s BNP calls for “…an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here…” was effectively disrupted by anti-racist protestor at Michigan State University. Shortly into the Griffin’s talk, which was sponsored by MSU’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, Griffin abandoned his planned speech after being repeatedly overshadowed by protestors calling him a racist and citing his involvement in the racist right.
During his speech, which was billed as an expose on how “multiculturalism, mass immigration, and Islam are destroying Western civilization,” Griffin made several statements reflecting his racism, homophobia, and hatred of Muslims. Griffin stayed true to how his talk was billed, stating, “We don’t believe in integration. Integration is extermination.” Early on, Griffin told the audience that he would “shove homosexuals into the closet” and while later telling an audience Muslim member of the audience that he sees her as a threat. Griffin said that he does believe the Holocaust happened, downplaying his previous statements denying the Holocaust by stating that “…in the past I have said very rude things about the Holocaust which doesn’t make me an anti-Semite” and later stating “I have no doubt whatsoever–I have never doubted–that vast numbers of entirely innocent Eastern European Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their allies.” Of course, this statement contradicts Griffin’s previous claims, but it does reflect the way in which the BNP has sought to gloss over its most extreme positions in order to appeal to reactionary tendencies within Britain. It is also important to remember that despite what Griffin says publicly, in 1998 he was convicted of distributing materially likely to insight racial hatred and that he has a long history of involvement in organized racism and fascism.
Throughout his talk, Griffin was flanked by Preston Wiginton, a man who has been associated with the racist right via his involvement with the white supremacist Stormfront online community. When confronted about his involvement with Stormfront, Wiginton denied being a Nazi, stating “I have not been to Stormfront in a year” and claiming that he is “just a person who loves my people.” While fairly immaterial, a simple search on Stormfront turns up posts from Preston Wiginton authored in July of 2007. Like Griffin–who has spoken at a conference organized by the racist American Renaissance group–Wiginton has been associated with other white supremacists, including David Duke. Wiginton also runs a website called “Noaztlan.org” on which he declares that “Illegal Immigration Spells Cancer for the American Way of Life.” Wiginton appears to have booked Griffin’s current speaking tour and in the past ran a website defending Griffin’s BNP.
Young Americans for Freedom appeared to have few members in attendance and few people came to listen to the talk. The overwhelming majority who were there were opposed to Griffin’s lecture. Prior to the start of the speech, there was a march across MSU’s campus that ended with a “community speak out” in which representatives of a variety of campus and community organizations opposed both Griffin’s message and YAF’s continued hosting of racists.