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Other views: Preaching to choir not helpful

The University of North Dakota is taking heat because an avowed white supremacist/racist/neo-Nazi showed up Monday at a symposium that was convened to discuss his activities in Leith.

Craig Cobb, who is giving fits to townspeople, law enforcement and people of good will because of his views, was in the front row when UND's Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies convened a small gathering to discuss the situation he created in the small Grant County town.

Cobb should not have been allowed to participate, critics said. UND has legitimized his views, they charged. They are wrong. What better place than a university to confront uncomfortable realities? What better place to underscore the constitutional truth that the First Amendment is not about talking nice? What better place to see firsthand the practiced ignorance of Cobb and his ilk? What better place to avoid merely preaching to the choir, which would have been the agenda had Cobb not crashed the party?

Cobb and his associates want to buy enough property in Leith to take over local government and make the town a haven for white supremacists and other assorted nutcases. Thus far, the town's leaders and state health regulators are ruining Cobb's plans. The attention he's received -- and seems to invite -- has worked against him. Once it was known what Cobb was all about, the wheels began turning to stop him in Leith.

In other words, the more Cobb and his crazies are exposed, the less likely they will be tolerated in North Dakota. Cobb certainly was not welcome at UND, but had he been barred from participating in a symposium that was about him, he could have argued persuasively that the university was attenuating his right of free speech.

Cobb's nonsensical ramblings at UND further showed he's an ignorant racist and unapologetic hater. He might not see it that way, but his behavior confirms it. The university should not be criticized for letting Cobb speak but rather should be complimented for exposing him for just who he is and what he represents. It's not a pretty picture.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's Editorial Board formed this opinion.