Throwing paint, vandalizing the building, and calling for violence against Milo Yiannopoulos — all instances that occurred when I brought the Breitbart Technology editor to my campus. Indeed, ignorance can lead to irrational behavior. Being a Rutgers University student myself, I was embarrassed to call these individuals my peers.
Although the audience was filled with a majority of fans and interested peers, out of the 450 attendees were fifty-some leftist protesters that got a little crazy.
My Young Americans for Liberty chapter hosted Yiannopoulos this past Tuesday with expectations that a liberal configuration of protesters might disrupt his speech. Between Yiannopoulos’ provocative social media history and the topic of his speech — “How the Progressive Left Has Destroyed American Education” — at least one sensitive liberal was bound to get offended. Some probably even required a safe space. Fortunately for us, Yiannopoulos has been down this path before.
Their grievances with Yiannopoulos were not simply over political disagreement, but mainly due to the ignorance of the protesters. After the first wave of disruptions by protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” came a group of individuals smearing fake blood on themselves. Faced with counter-chants from supporters of Yiannopoulos, the protesters walked out of the event before the question and answer portion even began. This is the portion of the event which would allow people to question Yiannopoulos and share their grievances in a legitimate fashion. Apparently, the protesters who walked out didn’t want to seize this opportunity.
The question and answer portion of the event was emphasized, clearly indicating that their decision to leave was due to their inability to face the circumstances. It is much easier to walk away from your opposition or to ban them from campus — as students had tried — rather than ask legitimate questions. The reality is that these students don’t want — or don’t know how — to engage with the other side. Instead, they resort to heckling in disagreement if they’re not being coddled in their safe space.
Continued heckling by protesters had others in the audience responding, enabling Yiannopoulos to set up hilarious comebacks as he waited for the protesters to calm down. At one point, a protester displayed their ignorance by shouting out to the audience that President Barack Obama legalized gay marriage. As any individual remotely familiar with the issue of marriage would tell you, that decision was changed by the Supreme Court, not the executive branch. This information is also readily available online, for anyone who knows how to use the Internet. When engaging in any political discourse, especially if it reaches the degree of protests, it is important to have a basic understanding of the issues at hand.
Even more telling was the incredible double standard of these social justice warriors. Once the paint-covered protesters exited on their social justice high-horse, they continued to protest outside of the event. As one of my club members observed and filmed the protesters, they confronted her. In this exchange, the protesters called my club member a “racist bitch.” But their verbal attack wasn’t because of any remarks made by Andrea, it was simply because she was filming their outdoor protest. These protesters were demanding consent forms to be recorded, which according to New Jersey law is not required in these circumstances. After all, these students were protesting outdoors on the public property of a public university.
If your sources are Tumblr, Wikipedia, and Al Sharpton, chances are you’re a misinformed individual. The protesters at Rutgers were not even familiar with the calls for segregation by some in the Black Lives Matter movement. The calls for black only dorms and safe spaces come to mind. But the protesters shrieked when Yiannopoulos commented on this issue. Cognitive dissonance is comforting and it kind of works as a mental safe space — a barrier one can place themselves in to avoid reality, facts, and logic.
In the event that the left wants to legitimize their movement in order to actually accomplish their goals, they’re going to have to start with adjusting themselves. By harassing or banning their opposition, acting violently, and not utilizing the proper channels for change, these leftist movements perpetuate the rightful criticisms they face. Their own bewilderment is their greatest obstacle.
Matthew Boyer is a senior at Rutgers University. Boyer is the New Jersey State Chairman and Rutgers Chapter President for Young Americans for Liberty. He is a contributor to The College Fix and The Daily Targum.