Welcome to the politics of confected controversy – a weird place where the President of the United States of America openly threatens to remove federal funding from one of the world’s premiere universities because it canceled an address by the tech editor of an online publication.
Of course, in all fairness, it’s not just any online tech editor, it’s Milo Yiannopoulos. He has parlayed his position at Breitbart News into a one-man juggernaut of right-wing provocation with his “Dangerous Faggot” tour of American colleges.
The denizens of the University of California, Berkeley – apparently unaware how the 21st-century game of political optics is played – fell for the provocation so perfectly, they might have been following a script. Engaging in pointless violence only seemed to prove Yiannopoulos’ argument: The Left feels threatened by free speech.
Yiannopoulos was scheduled to address an audience at UC Berkeley Wednesday night, but the university canceled the address after protests broke out around 5 p.m. and quickly devolving into violence. Protesters breached police barricades, threw rocks, broke windows, vandalized buildings and set fire to some outdoor equipment.
As the night wore on, the violence spread from the university’s campus to downtown Berkeley. Some protesters engaged in scuffles. Others appeared to clash with police, who reportedly used tear gas to disperse at least one violent crowd.
Like clockwork, President Trump (who has appointed Breitbart’s former executive chairman Steve Bannon as his chief strategist) took to Twitter to condemn the violence as an attack on free speech and issue a typically histrionic threat with a tweet: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Trump’s sentiment was echoed by Yiannopoulos himself in a Facebook post, where he asserted: “One thing we do know for sure: The Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”
And so the kabuki cycle of provocation, infantile tantrums and stylized indignation continues.
It’s going to be a long four years.
"It’s going to be a long four years."
That's one statement on which everyone can agree ...
Too bad the Pres. couldn't hzve taken stronger action.
I like the phrase "stylized indignation." We are going to have to put up with a lot of opportunists like Yiannopoulos, who see this administration as their chance for public and media attention.
I love your deceptive headline. It's as though the invitation was revoked BEFORE the speaker arrived, as opposed to being forced off the campus. The behavior by the students is unacceptable and inexcusable. This denial of free speech is happening on college campuses throughout the US. Our constitution protects free speech, but apparently The People's Republic of California only permits it if it is radical left and anarchist. A democracy needs more than one political party and the people are served when there is open, engaged and free dialogue between and among all parties.
No, they are exercising their rights to free speech and the free expression of ideas. If you were not a left-wing ideologue, you'd recognize that vigorous debate and exchange of ideas serves everyone's interests.
amen to that!
Sending a Breitbart mouthpiece to Berkeley, is like running onto the short-bus and screaming fire. Those kids aren't equipped (both maturity level and strategic awareness) to recognize they're being set-up and played. Hopefully the college crowd figures out they just need to ignore that messenger, and he can go from campus to campus preaching to mostly empty halls, in desolate corners of the campuses. That's a great news story. The best way to defuse bomb throwers is to give them nothing to aim at. Protest peacefully or simply do not engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person. That's how you really send a message.
Several intersting developments on this today:
1- Berkley administration says students protesting were peaceful and that rounghly 150 black-garbed, masked anarchists infiltrated the students' peaceful protest to rile up violence and destruction.
2- Yet...no arrests last night by UDPD, per CNN's report four hours ago? Why was no one arrested? Wouldn't that clear up whether these were students or professionals or anarchists?
3- Black-garbed, masked anarchists match the same look as the protesters pillaging downtown D.C. on Inaugeration Day.
As we discovered via Wikileaks revelations, paid violent protesters were part of the 2016 Election game plan. Why would it stop after the election? The only question for me is whether the puppetmasters here are on the left, trying to instigate a full-blown insurrection; or from the right, to make the left look violently reactionary and undermine a unified pacifist pushback against the Trump administration. Both sound like realistic scenarios, so I have no idea.
To set the record straight, the speaker was invited by a student Republican club. The University allowed it, and then cancelled only after things got out of hand.
Trump placing blame, and threatening funding reprisals against the University is, to paraphrase Mr. Dixon, something only a complete moron would do, and only an idiot would support.
And for history buffs, we shouldn't forget that just a few years ago a left-winger's speaking engagement was cancelled under similar circumstances. And decades before that, the original Free Speech Movement was begun at UCB in specific defense of a voter registration effort in that same physical location, being run by a young Republican student group.
That's right, boys and girls; ... The FSM was founded while defending the rights of GOP students. Chew on that one, Trumpites.
Alternative Facts rule the Comments section here....
Or perhaps on both the left and right simultaneously, like Putin's chief political technologist?
Rochelle...very well said. I have found it remarkably difficult to find Democrats who are willing to have a calm, fact based discussion of topics. Within seconds they are off on some anti-Trump rant (often based on incorrect assumptions or hyperbole). The only facts allowed are the facts that support their opinions.
"YOUR alternative facts are fatter than MY alternative facts! ...so, there!"
As a history buff.... "just a few years ago a left-winger's speaking engagement was cancelled under similar circumstances" more information please.
Actually, the first people arrested back in 1964 were civil rights activists affiliated with CORE. What these people did the other night throwing stuff, setting fires, attacking cops and people who were going or trying to go to this event was exactly what the Spartacists and Nazis did in 1920s Germany. The cure for "bad" speech; it's not violence. How many people would go hear someone as dangerous as this person is purported to be if the opposition were not so crazy? Every time something like this happens, Trump's numbers tick up, not down.