On Wednesday night Milo Yiannopoulos stopped by University of California at Berkeley to do his schtick. Leftist protesters, joined by a large contingent of anarchist rioters, promptly gave Yiannopoulos everything he could ever hope for: a riot, complete with violent destruction of property, large objects set on fire, and Yiannopoulos supporters beaten in the streets. It was a vicious and disgusting display of just how fascist the campus left has become.
A few thoughts.
1. The Campus Left Has Been Engaging In This Sort Of Fascism For At Least A Year. Not every campus leftist group engages in this sort of violence, but a shocking number of campuses have experienced this sort of fascist anti-free speech garbage. Yiannopoulos has been receiving these sorts of receptions at campuses dotting the country. And the riots aren’t about Yiannopoulos: they’re about the very concept of allowing someone on campus who the left considers radical. Last February, I was met with a near-riot at California State University at Los Angeles; at Penn State, students attempted to break through locked doors to disrupt one of my speeches; I was banned from DePaul in the aftermath of a student disruption against Yiannopoulos, and told I would be arrested if I set foot on campus. Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal was disinvited by Virginia Tech, before finally being allowed on campus.
2. The Academic Left Has Prepared The Way For Campus Fascism. Why is this happening now? Because the academic left has built up a pseudointellectual bulwark around such fascism. They’ve told students that they deserve “safe spaces” – areas in which their ideas are not challenged in any way. They’ve forwarded the culture of “microaggressions,” which urges students to see any speech they find offensive as a form of “aggression” to be countered by other aggression. Here’s Professor Jonathan Haidt on the phenomenon: “The recent collegiate trend of uncovering allegedly racist, sexist, classist, or otherwise discriminatory microaggressions doesn’t incidentally teach students to focus on small or accidental slights. Its purpose is to get students to focus on them and then relabel the people who have made such remarks as aggressors.” As a professor at Cal State LA posted on his door before my speech there last year, “The best response to micro-aggression is macro-aggression.” This line of thought encourages student evil. As Professor Roy Baumeister writes in Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty, “Hypersensitive people who often think their pride is being assaulted are potentially dangerous. Even when a neutral observer would conclude that no serious provocation occurred, it is still important to recognize that, in the perpetrator’s own view, he or she was merely responding to an attack.” Colleges churn out these oversensitive people.
3. Rioting Against Speakers You Consider Radical Only Helps Those Speakers, You Idiots. Yiannopoulos’ schtick relies on opposition. The clips from his speeches are all about “triggering” members of the campus left. He relishes this publicity. Like or dislike Yiannopoulos (and I’m certainly no fan, to say the least), his provocateur act only works if he provokes a response far worse than that in which he is engaged. When the left shuts down his speeches, when they riot, when they engage in actual violence, when they pepperspray those who come to hear him and hit them with metal poles, all they’re doing is legitimizing Yiannopoulos in the public eye, making him the victim and selling him books.
President Trump has weighed in via Twitter, stating that he will withdraw federal funds from UC Berkeley if they can’t maintain free speech principles. That’s perfectly appropriate. Spray-painting “KILL TRUMP” on walls, smashing ATMs, assaulting people – that’s not appropriate behavior in any civilized society. And for those doing the spraypainting and smashing and assaulting to proclaim that they’re anti-fascist is patently insane. Forget Yiannopoulos – the issue is the left. And they’re out of control.