The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California, Berkeley, has published a series of op-eds defending the use of violence to shut down a lecture on campus by Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos last week.
The series is called “Violence as self-defense,” ostensibly on the premise that conservative speech is a physical threat.
UC Berkeley, a public campus once celebrated as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, now apparently celebrates the use of violence to suppress free speech and violate the civil right rights of guest speakers and fellow students.
One essay, by Berkeley student Josh Hardman, celebrates the “plurality of tactics,” including violence, that suppressed Milo’s speech. Castigating the Berkeley administration for allowing the Berkeley College Republicans their “racist, xenophobic, sexist extravaganza” in the first place, Hardman argues that the right free speech does not include “hate speech.” He adds that violence in the service of shutting down violence may not really deserve to be classified as “violence” at all: “I urge you to consider whether damaging the windows of places like banks and the Amazon student store constitutes ‘violence’,” he writes.
Juan Prieto, an “undocumented student” (i.e. illegal alien), writes that the violence of the so-called “anti-fascist” rioters made him feel safer, because he was afraid that Milo would “dox” him — i.e. release his name, identity, and other personal data. The campaign against “sanctuary campuses” that Milo was to have launched, Prieto writes, would have used “the power of the state (immigration officers) to deport some of the most outspoken of us, therefore threatening our freedom of speech.” He thanks the rioters for damaging the campus, banks, and businesses nearby: “The so-called ‘violence’ against private property that the media seems so concerned with stopped white supremacy from organizing itself against my community,” he argues.
Reporter and illustrator Desmond Meagley claims in another op-ed that the violence was necessary to prevent Milo from instigating violence against students on Berkeley’s campus. “There was no easy way to shut down the event and keep Yiannopoulos and his fans from inciting violence,” he insists. Milo’s ideas, he claims, are their own unique form of violence: “The violence that forms the foundation of Yiannopoulos’ ideology is far worse than any tactic the black bloc uses.”
Lest any readers object to the viewpoints above, Berkeley alumna Nisa Dang warns them to “check” their “privilege.” She argues that “no protest is nonviolent.” Students were “compelled” to protest violently, she says, because Milo’s words make students feel unsafe, and therefore call for pre-emptive action: “If I know that you are planning to attack me, I’ll do all I can to throw the first punch.” Adding that “police are violent agents of the state,” she claims that their very presence — limited as it was at the Milo event — “creates an atmosphere that perpetuates violence on community members.” She then mocks Milo for not facing whatever violence the rioters had in store — “To Milo: I’m sorry that you were too scared to stand your ground” — and hints that he ought to be murdered by those who survived genocides by “killing Nazis and people just like them.”
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.