The white Columbia University student seen in a viral video this week shouting at fellow students about how white people are “the best thing that ever happened to the world” wants to set the record straight.
Julian von Abele, a sophomore studying physics, claimed in a statement provided to The Daily Beast that the stunning video “does not show my true beliefs” and that his rant was actually “part of a broader debate and series of events that provide important context.”
“I am not a white supremacist or racist, nor do I subscribe to any views that support that ideology. I unequivocally denounce all groups that support racism,” he explained. “My reaction that evening grew out of my distaste for the overuse of the term ‘white privilege’ and similar divisive rhetoric as a means of dismissing views of others.”
According to von Abele, his videotaped tirade was simply a plea for all races and cultures to openly appreciate their people’s accomplishments. “I believe that every single person should love themselves and love their culture, and we should all be allowed to be proud of our heritage,” he said. “As such, I would like to have my views be fairly considered in the public discourse, and not dismissed solely due to my race and gender.”
In the video captured Sunday night, von Abele is seen standing outside Butler Library around 4 a.m., wildly swinging his arms while screaming at other students: “Europeans built the modern world.”
“We invented science and industry and you want to tell us to stop because, ‘Oh my God, we’re so bad!’” von Abele is seen shouting at the group of students.
Columbia University released a statement on Sunday denouncing the “racially charged incident,” and said they will investigate the incident.
In his statement, von Abele claimed that the heated exchange began “when several students were accusing Trump supporters of encouraging sexual violence.”
According to the sophomore, “I explained that I am a Trump supporter and I do not in any way encourage violence, sexual or otherwise. A large group of students gathered around me and told me that I had no right to share my views on women as I’m a white male with ‘white privilege.’”
And so, von Abele added, he became irate as he was “offended” for what he perceived as “being held personally responsible for the historical actions” of all white people. Furthermore, he said, “I was tired of the divisive rhetoric that blames all the ills of society on white men.”
In the video, von Abele’s fellow students can be seen getting upset by his remarks, calling him a “degenerate” and giving him middle finger while simultaneously egging him on to “say it one more time.”
“We saved billions of people from starvation, we built modern civilization! White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world!” von Abele continued, his voice growing hoarse from all the shouting. “We are so amazing. I love myself! I love white people! Fuck yeah, white people. Fuck yeah, white men. We’re white men, we did everything."
He added: "Look, I don’t hate other people, I just love white men.”
Ultimately, von Abele admitted in his statement, “I regret that I subsequently engaged in an exchange that was admittedly overzealous and was not the right venue to discuss the value of identity politics.”
But the student does not repudiate anything he actually said.
Instead, von Abele mainly took issue with his views being represented by an “out-of-context” video.
“The rhetoric I used to prove a point sounded as if I feel that whites are better than other races, while really, I was theatrically and sarcastically demonstrating that whites are not allowed to embrace their cultural achievements,” he wrote. “The out-of-context video widely circulated was not representative of my general argument that evening, which was not that white men were solely responsible for the scientific accomplishments of the world, but instead that the great things western culture has accomplished throughout history should not be ignored to accommodate identity politics.”
Following the incident, Kwolanne Felix, a student witness, told The Daily Beast that von Abele followed the group to the college’s dining hall, where he allegedly began to hurl more insults and racist rhetoric.
“The public safety officer lingered and when we asked for help, the officer just said, ‘He is just saying how he feels,’” Felix recalled, adding that a group of black students also said they had also been harassed earlier by von Abele.
On Tuesday, von Abele defended his conduct as nonviolent. “At no time did I shove, grab, or physically or verbally assault anyone, nor did I denigrate anyone’s race.” He added, “Since this event, I have received credible threats to my safety, I have been harassed, and my personal information has been released.”
He did, however, apologize at the very end of his statement.
“I apologize for going over the top, and I emphasize that my reaction was not one of hate.”