On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News announced Richard Spencer as a "Texan of The Year" finalist, causing outrage and disagreement among residents of the state. Although certain social media users said that the designation appeared like an endorsement of the highly controversial white supremacist figure, the Dallas Morning News said it was a "recognition" of Spencer's "noxious" political impact.
This designation is not meant as an award but as recognition of those Texans who had uncommon impact, which can be a positive or negative impact, during the past year.
The newspaper detailed several reasons for choosing Spencer as the finalist for the publication's title. It pointed to Spencer's "pernicious influence" on American politics and highlighted Spencer getting invited to university campuses to talk to students in 2017. Plus, it noted the fatal white supremacist march from August in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which Spencer participated. The Neo-Nazi march resulted in the death of one anti-racist protester, according to officials.
In addition to those reasons, the newspaper spoke of Spencer's thoughts on public image and said that the white supremacist was aware of how powerful winning the public's respect is and mainstreaming white supremacy.
For some Texans, however, the newspaper's reasoning didn't justify the designation. Some pointed to other political figures who, they believe, deserved to be "Texan of The Year." The title, the overwhelming opinion seems to be, dangerously resembles an award.
One local from Houston wrote on Twitter:
Remember how much I trash Dallas for being a classist, racist shit city? Here's more proof of that [...] yeah [...] that's legit too.
A "F*ck Dallas" hashtag was also added.
Pick Someone Else
Dallas-based Twitter user Alexis Kanter said that the publication should have picked someone else to be a finalist — sports commentator Dale Hansen, for instance.
No, this award should be given to @DaleHansen instead. We should focus on people advocating for positive change, not twits like [Spencer].
One probable reason why Kanter picked Hansen seems to be his strong support for African American NFL players protesting police brutality. In September, Hansen said, "If you don't think white privilege is a fact, you don't understand America."
"Shame" On Dallas Morning News
Other Twitter users, like Dallas user @sachsedad, simply went straight to their point and said, "Shame on [Dallas Morning News]."
Rejecting The Title
Facebook user Alia Salem from Dallas reacted to the news with a strong reaction. The finalist title, Salem argued, was misleading and "elevate[d] evil."
No Dallas Morning News. No no no.
A title like "Texan of the Year" connotes a positive recognition of a person's accomplishments. You can never elevate evil and give it a platform like this and not suffer backlash from your community.
Why Not To Choose Spencer
From Twitter user Jordan from Austin, Texas:
Counterpoint: Richard Spencer is not "worthy of our attention" just because he's a another rich nazi from North Dallas
Another Texan on social media said Spencer shouldn't have been given the title because he wasn't there to support the state during the tumultuous Hurricane Harvey.
Another Dallas local tweeted an edited image of the publication's finalist announcement, replacing "Texan" with "racist" and Richard Spencer with "white supremacist."
"Fixed it for y'all," Kristian Steffany tweeted.
As one Texan wrote:
So the @dallasnews has declared both Attica Locke and Richard Spencer as finalists for #TexanOfTheYear, which just goes to show how completely fucking tone death [sic] my state can be.
Others were just speechless.
Shame on Texas for nominating Richard Spencer as Texan of the year! -you have come too far to let that piece of human garbage represent 1, much less all of you.
From the looks of it, people don't care for Dallas Morning News' reasoning, no matter how neutral it might be. Men like Spencer who openly express white supremacist ideals, the internet says, shouldn't be given any spotlight, much less the title of the year.