The Kansas State University football team is taking a strong stand against racism in the wake of an incendiary racist tweet by student “groyper” activist, Jaden McNeil.
A June 27 statement circulated by a member of the team stated that “we as a football team, after consultations with students…are demanding that Kansas State University put a policy in place that allows a student to be dismissed for displaying openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions toward a student or groups of student.” Until that time, the announcement continued, “We have resolved that we cannot play, practice, or meet.”
The team’s action comes after Jaden McNeil, a junior at Kansas State and founder of the campus group, America First Students, tweeted, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25. The killing sparked demonstrations against police racism and violence across the country.
The leadership shown by members of the KSU football team gained quick statements opposing racism from Athletics Director Gene Taylor, coach Chris Klieman, other campus athletes, group and students, and KSU administrators.
On July 1, KSU President Richard Myers issued a proposed set of University responses, including establishing a work group to examine KSU policies on discrimination, harassment and its student code of conduct; improvements in processing discrimination complaints; increasing recruitment of students of color; developing social media usage policies for students; cultural competency training for faculty and staff; and greater efforts to hire and retain faculty and staff of color, among other steps.
As IREHR has documented in detail, Jaden McNeil has been an active part of the “groyper” mobilization led by white nationalists. In January, McNeill announced the formation of America First Students, an organization created with guidance from white nationalists. As IREHR documented in February, McNeil has repeatedly and blatantly shown an affinity for bigotry.
McNeil responded to the initial reaction against his tweet by continuing to mock George Floyd, lashing out at “homosexuals” he claims responded to his tweet and calling Twitter “so fu—-g gay” for temporarily blocking his account and making him delete the original tweet.
McNeil’s “groyper” comrade, white nationalist Nick Fuentes mocked George Floyd and placed the reaction to McNeil’s tweet in the context of his “gropyer wars.” He also absurdly, if in character, cast the outcry against racism as an effort to “destroy White, Christian, conservative Americans”:
Fuentes called for an online mobilization against McNeil’s critics, calling for “every Groyper” to “ratio everyone who is attacking him,” a reference to flooding critics with opposing statements:
For their part, McNeil’s fellow “gropyers” lauded him and rushed to his defense. On June 26, “groyper” activist Steven Franssen declared on Telegram that “Jaden McNeil is awesome and I endorse his joke.” Other examples from activists in the “groyper wars” include:
Nativist pundit and self-proclaimed “mommy” to the “groypers,” Michelle Malkin lent vigorous support for this white nationalist-led mobilization. Malkin continued the project of white-washing McNeil and his fellow “gropyers” in an article for the far-right Unz Review.
In her July 1 Unz article, Malkin absurdly defended Jaden McNeil as simply a “mainstream conservative Christian college student” and repeated the clear falsehood that it is “baseless lies that McNeil (who I’ve known since last year and consider a friend and rising conservative star) is connected to ‘white nationalism.’” Malkin continued, offering her own offensive praise that “McNeil also refuses to bend his knee to Black Lives Matter, unlike so many swamp conservatives folding like cheap origami these days.”
Articles defending the American First Students student founder appeared at several “groyper”-linked online venues, including Red Elephant and the Gateway Pundit.
The right-wing response to the stand against McNeil and the America First Students included a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a conservative group that has called diversity seminars “vehicles for ideological indoctrination” and supported the work of Islamophobic activist David Horowitz. FIRE warned KSU that Jaden McNeil may not legally be punished for his tweets “on the basis that others find them offensive.”
Before the pandemic hit, “groypers” were scheming to spread McNeil’s America First Students work. Efforts to expand AFS-style politics have already appeared on at least six other campuses around the country.
A bold, courageous stand against the racism of the founder of America First Students is being made by student-athletes and allies at Kansas State University. If we can all take leadership from the members of the Kansas State University football team, we can continue the effort for racial justice that we have seen grow around the country.https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/kansas-state-players-announce-boycott-of-program-in-wake-of-offensive-social-media-post-by-student/
 McNeil, Jaden. Twitter. June 25, 2020. https://twitter.com/McNeilJaden/status/1276255988732039168
 KCTV5. Kansas State athletes, officials decry student’s Floyd tweet. KCTV5. June 26, 2020. https://www.kctv5.com/sports/wildcats/kansas-state-athletes-officials-decry-students-floyd-tweet/article_7c5d0ac0-b811-11ea-94c9-0b6a8ba62232.html
 Myers, Richard. A message from President Myers. Kansas State University. July 1, 2020. https://www.k-state.edu/today/info/announcement/?id=66089
 McNeil, Jaden. Telegram. June 25, 2020. https://t.me/jadenpmcneil/2205, https://t.me/jadenpmcneil/2206, https://t.me/jadenpmcneil/2207; McNeil, Jaden. Twitter. June 25, 2020. https://twitter.com/McNeilJaden/status/1276368148854341634; McNeil, Jaden. Telegram. June 28, 2020. https://t.me/jadenpmcneil/2282
 McNeil, Jaden. Telegram. June 26, 2020. https://t.me/jadenpmcneil/2226; Fuentes, Nick. Twitter. June 27, 2020. https://twitter.com/NickJFuentes/status/1277027165704462337; Fuentes, Nick. Twitter. June 26, 2020. https://twitter.com/NickJFuentes/status/1276559832380837890
 Franssen, Steven. Telegram. June 26, 2020. https://t.me/stevenfranssen/4481
 Columbia Bugle. Twitter. June 25, 2020. https://twitter.com/ColumbiaBugle/status/1276406082533945344; Fairbanks, Cassandra. Twitter. June 25, 2020. https://twitter.com/CassandraRules/status/1276402698884198400
 Malkin, Michelle. Twitter. June 27, 2020. https://twitter.com/michellemalkin/status/1276924366194790400
 The Unz Review is an outlet for such writers as Brad Griffin (Hunter Wallace) of the white nationalist League of the South; James Kirkpatrick, revealed in March by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a pseudonym used by an author in white nationalist outlets such as VDARE and American Renaissance; Paul Gottfried, the co-creator of the term “alt-right” along with white nationalist Richard Spencer; and veteran anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald of the white nationalist American Freedom Party.
 Malkin, Michelle. What’s the Matter with Kansas State University? The Unz Report. July 1, 2020. https://www.unz.com/mmalkin/whats-the-matter-with-kansas-state-university/
 While FIRE touts itself as strictly a defender of student and faculty individual rights, the group is better understood as aiming to advance conservative politics on college campuses. While the group’s 2004 IRS 990s cast “mandatory diversity seminars” as “vehicles for ideological indoctrination,” FIRE’s willingness to undermine speech and academic freedoms on campus came into relief when the group threw its support behind the Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) drafted by anti-Muslim activist David Horowitz. While then-FIRE President David French testified in defense of the bill in 2004 hearings in Pennsylvania, the group went even further by running an apparent article by David Horowitz defending the bill and under the moniker of “FIRE.”
Under pretense of support for “pluralism, diversity” and “fairness,” the ABOR would have impinged on academic freedom and speech of professors by “invit[ing] diversity to be measured by political standards that diverge from the academic criteria of the scholarly profession,” in an opposing statement by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). In the end, the AAUP argued that the ABOR sought “to transfer responsibility for the evaluation of student competence to college and university administrators or to the courts” – an effort that other scholars have effectively argued is little more than an effort to shoehorn in conservative political frameworks in place of the established standards of the respective disciplines.
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. IRS 990. Internal Revenue Service. 2004. ProPublica. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/43467254/2005_07_EO%2F04-3467254_990_200412; FIRE. The Strange Dishonest Campaign Against Academic Freedom. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. April 29, 2005. https://www.thefire.org/the-strange-dishonest-campaign-against-academic-freedom/. For more on FIRE and David French’s support for the Academic Bill of Rights, see EDavis. Pa. House to Investigate Academic Freedom. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. July 14, 2005. https://www.thefire.org/pa-house-to-investigate-academic-freedom/; FIRE Staff. Victory for Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. November 23, 2004. https://www.thefire.org/victory-for-academic-freedom-at-brooklyn-college/; Shibley, Robert. A No-Conficence Vote in Academia? Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. March 16, 2005. https://www.thefire.org/a-no-confidence-vote-in-academia/; Horowitz, David. What I told Pennsylvania’s Academic Freedom Hearings. History News Network. January 11, 2006. https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/20387. American Association of University Professors. Academic Bill of Rights. December 2003. https://www.aaup.org/report/academic-bill-rights. For background on the threat posted by Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights, see Kimura-Walsh, Erin. Encroaching on Autonomy: The Influence of the Academic Bill of Rights on U.S. Higher Education. Interactions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies. Vol 4(1), February 2, 2008; Reindl, Travis. Academic Bill of Rights: Insurance Policy or Trojan Horse. College and University. Vol 80(1), Summer 2004; American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Reviving the Culture Wars on Campus. Vol 2(4), Arpil 2005. See the Academic Bill of Rights here: Horowitz, David. Academic Bill of Rights. http://la.utexas.edu/users/hcleaver/330T/350kPEEHorowitzAcadBillTable.pdf.
 Letter from Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to Richard B. Myers, Office of the President, Kansas State University. June 30, 2020.