A growing number of conservative commentators are calling on President Donald Trump to use the California National Guard to escort author Ann Coulter onto the University of California, Berkeley campus when she speaks next week.
Though California Governor Jerry Brown commands the California National Guard, President Trump has the power to federalize it — just as President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard in 1957 to integrate public schools. (The same Arkansas troops who had once blocked black students then escorted the students to school.)
Coulter was invited by the Berkeley College Republicans to speak on April 27. When Berkeley administrators balked, citing security concerns, critics noted the ironic suppression of free speech on a campus that prides itself on that ideal.
The administration then reversed its decision — but said that Coulter could speak on May 2. There are no classes on that date, and so Coulter rejected the offer, declaring that she intends to exercise her constitutional rights, as planned.
The controversy is a test of whether the prestigious campus that gave birth to the Free Speech Movement in 1964 will yield to the “heckler’s veto” in the form of potential violence by the same radical anarchist and “anti-fascist” groups that rioted and shut down a speech by then-Breitbart News tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos on the campus in February.
On Wednesday, conservative talk radio host Mark Levin floated the idea of federalizing the California National Guard. “[President Trump] should send his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in there to walk Ann Coulter onto the Berkeley campus so she can give her speech… Either we have a Constitution, or we don’t!” Levin declared defiantly.
On Thursday, Richard Eber, writing at the conservative blog California Political News and Views, added his assent:
Are we to continue to accept the words of UC spokesman Dan Mugolof who commented “It has nothing to do with anyone’s political views? We believe in unqualified support to the First Amendment. But we also have an unqualified focus on safety of our students.”
Baloney! If such logic were used during the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks would still be standing in the back of the bus. Lester Maddox would still be waving ax handles to keep African Americans from eating at his lunch counter. Martin Luther King would have been forced to cancel his “I Have A Dream” oration because of security considerations …
With the crisis of enforcing the first amendment becoming so acute, President Trump needs to federalize the National Guard and make sure individuals such as Ann Coulter are allowed to speak their views on immigration policies or any other topics they choose. This goes for college campuses and elsewhere.
After the anti-Milo riots at Berkeley in February, President Trump threatened to suspend federal funds to the university.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.