Willie Brown, the first African-American mayor of San Francisco, has used his latest San Francisco Chronicle column to condemn liberal intolerance at the University of California, Berkeley towards conservative speakers as the reversal of that campus’s free speech legacy.
The context for Brown’s criticism is the decision by UC Berkeley not to allow conservative author Ann Coulter to speak on campus. That decision was reversed, but the university insisted that Coulter speak at a designated date and time, when classes were not in session or when few students were likely to attend, in order to minimize the risk of violent protests.
In 1964, Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, which demanded the right to advocate for any political cause on campus, with or without the approval of the administration. The movement broke open dialogue on campuses nationwide, and inspired a generation of activists to join protests against the Vietnam War and other causes.
Brown notes an odd irony — present at many other campuses today, as well — where the students are demanding an end to free expression, the very right that their parents’ generation marched to protect and expand.
When the Free Speech Movement got rolling at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, the whole point was winning the right to speak out about civil rights, sex, the Vietnam War or anything else on your mind.
It was youth versus “the man.”
Now it’s youth demanding the shutdown, and the man expressing outrage at the death of free speech.
And the cops being sent in to protect it.
How’s that for a reversal?
Read Brown’s full column, “Berkeley betrays its free speech legacy,” here.
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. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.