Two nights, two protests. This isn’t surprising under the Trump presidency, but these protests were much more sinister than chanting and wearing pussy hats.
On February 1st, controversial Breitbart editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to give a speech at UC Berkeley when things went awry. In what the Berkeley News called an “organized violent attack and destruction of property” more than 150 masked left-wing anti-Trump anarchists and AntiFascists interrupted what was described as an “otherwise peaceful demonstration”, starting fires, shooting fireworks at police officers, hurling rocks, smashing windows, destroying ATM machines, and in the end of it all CNN reported over $100,000 in damage to the campus. One female Berkeley student in the crowd, wearing a “make America great again” hat, was caught on video being teargassed by anti-Trumpers.
Two hours before the event was to begin, police officially cancelled it and issued dispersement messages to the 1,500 students gathered outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building, where the speech was to take place. They didn’t disperse, and the violence continued even after accomplishing what they set out to do.
Milo Yiannopoulos reported to Fox News that he and his team were immediately escorted off campus and to safety. Shortly after, he addressed the protests in a video on his Youtube channel. In it, he denounced the “hard left” which encompasses feminists, black lives matter proponents, progressive left, social justice left, and ANTIFA as having “…become so utterly antithetical to free speech in the last few years. [They have] taken a turn post Trump’s election where they simply won’t allow any speaker on campus, even someone as silly and harmless and gay as me, to have their voice heard, they won’t allow students to listen to different points of view, they’re absolutely petrified by alternative visions of how the world ought to look.”
Berkeley students proved that they agree with Milo, that there is no room for opposition in the progressive America championed by the hard left.
The irony of this student body being the reactionaries is not lost on most spectators, as everyone can look back to 1964 when the students of UC Berkeley fought hard to have free speech on their campus. This silencing of speech is a direct attack on the first amendment rights that are so easy to take for granted in today’s politically correct world. By destroying the alternative viewpoints, the left also destroys freedom of speech and thought. That is not indicative of what higher education is meant to be.
President Trump agrees, and denounced the protests in a tweet threatening to pull federal funding of the school which last year received $370,000,000.00 in federal research grants and funding.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The President emphasized Berkeley’s inability to allow free speech and practice of violence on innocents as reasons for the warning.
Schools around the country seeing this unfold should have taken it as a stern warning to support peaceful protests and conservative speakers, but not 24 hours later in New York a similar situation unfolded.
New York University was to host Gavin McInnes, conservative speaker and co-founder of Vice Media.
NYU Local, the University’s independent News Source, was at the event as protests broke out outside. Protesters were seen attempting to assault McInnes as he entered the building, which lead to multiple arrests. This is before the presentation even began, but McInnes was undeterred by the hard left’s anti-freedom rhetoric.
During the speech, protesters continually interrupted and shouted over McInnes. Despite his best attempts to continue, a university spokesperson suggested that McInnes leave due to the volume of the protesters. He left the stage and didn’t return, but he left the spokesperson with a scathing remark.
Gavin Mcinnes to spokeperson “You’re a dumb liberal asshole. You think these are rational beings”
— NYU Local (@NYULocal) February 3, 2017
This is the reality of higher education now. Intolerance of opposing viewpoints is turning once mighty institutions and champions of free speech into crybabies who are scared of what they don’t like. Not to mention the property damage the schools obtained which only hurts the students – liberal, conservative, and those with no political affiliation. It’s time to stand up to the attack on free speech and fight for the right to entertain all viewpoints in what should be considered a place of learning and debate, not censorship and fear.