Milo Yiannopoulos, a commentator with Breitbart News, is no stranger to protests.
The violence that broke out on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley is not the first time he has had a scheduled speech disrupted or canceled by professional protesters.
According to CNN:
The university blamed “150 masked agitators” for the unrest, saying they had come to campus to disturb an otherwise peaceful protest.
Administrators decided to cancel the event about two hours before the Breitbart editor’s speech. UC Berkeley said it removed him from campus “amid the violence and destruction of property and out of concern for public safety.”
Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police. Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.
Reports are that six people were injured when the 150 anarchists mingled with the approximately 1,500 peaceful demonstrators.
Supposedly, the group calls themselves the “Black Bloc,” and they’ve got a reputation for inciting trouble and violence in the Oakland, California area.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives,” UC Berkeley said in a statement.
“While Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own, we are bound by the Constitution, the law, our values and the campus’s Principles of Community to enable free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective,” it stated.
The irony is that among those peaceful protesters were signs that said, “No safe space for racists,” and “This is war.”
So anarchists brought war to the campus. Was it all you guys imagined?
Things change quickly when you’re simply trying to shout down and crowd out dissenting opinion, then someone who actually shares your point of view steps it up by throwing a Molotov cocktail at your head.
Such irony – Berkeley is said to be the campus where the Free Speech movement began, and they have chosen to honor that legacy by making sure “free speech” only consists of speech they’re comfortable with.
Yiannopoulos was an early and avid Trump supporter. It’s highly possible that that’s all many of the protesters needed to know about him.
In response, Trump took to Twitter to go at the college.
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
No doubt, Berkeley, along with most every other liberal indoctrination center of higher education has a real problem with diversity of thought. However, Yiannopoulos’ speech was scheduled by the school and would have proceeded as planned, were it not for the violence that unfolded.
In a Facebook Live video, Yiannopoulos described what happened as “an expression of political violence.”
“I’m just stunned that hundreds of people … were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs.”
Again, this isn’t the first time, so I’m not sure why he was “stunned.”
Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter last year, after the social media site decided he’d incited racial harassment of “Ghostbusters” remake actress, Leslie Jones.
These truly are precarious, disturbing, and depressingly violent times.
I suspect there are varying views over whether canceling Yiannopoulos’ appearance was the right thing for the college to do, or not.
I equally suspect that this won’t be the last time we have an issue arise on one of our nation’s campuses, because it wasn’t the first time.
The question we need to ask now is how do we find our way back to a place where people of opposing views can have a civil dialogue, rather than everything breaking down into utter chaos?