The University of California at Berkeley is once again the scene of violent protests. Reminiscent of the anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s, property has been smashed, fires have been started, and rioting has occurred. In contrast to those lawless protests fifty years ago, these have nothing to do with any war. Instead, they are an assault on free speech.
While in no way condoning what happened during those riots during the Vietnam War, what we have here is students at an institution that is supposed to be a bulwark of freedom of expression turning violent, because a guest was invited to speak with whom a substantial portion of the student body disagrees. As such, this entire debacle was contrary to one of the principle functions of the university – that being to serve as a place where ideas can be examined and debated freely.
Instead, we have an institution, once dedicated to such high purposes, drug down by hooligans who cannot or will not behave as peaceful citizens of the university or the community of which they are part. They should both be arrested and permanently expelled, although we might see something else happen.
The violence we’ve seen at Berkeley is, “in response to a scheduled campus speech by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos.” The problem the students have is that Milo, a self-described homosexual man, is both conservative politically and a supporter of Donald Trump. In liberal minds, such a combination is not supposed to exist. Hence, his prominence and his outspoken views make him a particular danger to the left.
The level of violence was disgusting: “News of the rioting made cable news last night as students smashed ATMs and bank windows, looted a Starbucks, beat Trump supporters, pepper sprayed innocent individuals, and set fires in the street. Others spray painted the words ‘Kill Trump’ on storefronts.”
Recognizing that Berkeley gets a substantial amount of its funding from the federal government, hosting such violence is financially dangerous considering who now occupies the presidency. “’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 wrote on Twitter early Thursday morning.” Mr. Trump, of course, asks a very appropriate question.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Yiannopoulos, whose speech was cancelled and who had to be evacuated from the campus was interviewed on Fox News where he made his point: “’The left is profoundly antithetical to free speech these days, does not want to hear alternative points of view, and will do anything to shut it down,’ Yiannopoulos told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in an interview on Wednesday night. ‘My point is being proven over and over and over again.’”
You can watch their conversation below:
The man is correct. Universities such as Berkeley have adopted leftist political correctness to the point of abandoning one their most noble purposes – serving as a place where reason and intellectual excellence can be applied to a vast array of ideas regardless of their popularity.
Such dereliction impoverishes the students, demeans the institution of the university, and abandons the society it is supposed to serve. If Berkeley cannot right itself, should it still be considered an institution of value?