The fascist Antifa (short for, ironically, “anti-fascist”) has taken over Berkeley by force. Because of this group of violent thugs, hosting even marginally controversial speakers at the University presents a threat to public safety. That’s what Chancellor Nicholas Dirks says, at least. Dirks released a letter today to the U.C. Berkeley campus community defending the University’s decision not to provide a venue for Ann Coulter to speak on campus tomorrow afternoon. The University offered to accommodate Coulter’s event at a later date, but Coulter refused. The later date would be during Berkeley’s “dead week,” and the event would take place in the afternoon, rather than in the evening. Thus, fewer students would be able to attend.
Coulter initially planned to go ahead with her event on the original date anyway, despite the University’s lack of support. Today, however, she canceled. With no support, she and anyone who wanted to hear her speak would be at serious risk of being attacked by Antifa thugs.
I don’t blame Dirks for not wanting to host Coulter at her requested time and date. I blame the Antifa. They are the ones who put Dirks in such a crappy situation. It is the Antifa who have taken it upon themselves to dictate what can and cannot be said by threatening to attack those who express opinions that they don’t like. This is a clique of wannabe Stalins, and it can’t be easy for administrators to figure out what to do about them.
If you’re skeptical of Dirks’s real motives in refusing to give Coulter a venue at her requested time and date, read the following paragraph from his letter:
In relation to the invitation made by a student group for Ann Coulter to speak at Berkeley this week, we have therefore to take seriously the intelligence UCPD has regarding threats of violence that could endanger our students, our community, and perhaps even Ms. Coulter herself. It is specific, significant and real. Yet, despite those threats, we have — and will remain — ready to welcome her to campus, and assume the risks, challenges and expenses that will attend her visit. That is demanded by our commitment to Free Speech. What we will not do is allow our students, other members of the campus community, and the public to be needlessly endangered by permitting an event to be held in a venue that our police force does not believe to be protectable. If UCPD believes there is a significant security threat attendant to a particular event, we cannot allow it to be held in a venue with a limited number of exits; in a hall that cannot be cordoned off; in an auditorium with floor to ceiling glass; in any space that does not meet basic safety criteria established by UCPD. This is the sole reason we could not accommodate Ms. Coulter on April 27th, and the very reason we offered her alternative dates in early May and September, when venues that satisfy safety requirements are available.
Maybe I’m naive, but I buy it. I don’t think Dirks is motivated by a desire to suppress Coulter’s speech, although I’m sure he’s no fan of hers. I think that these Antifa people are a genuine threat to public safety. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Dirks is essentially capitulating to the demands of terrorists.
In any case, Dirks’s response to the situation is far less significant than the fact that the situation even exists. The Antifa are powerful enough in Berkeley to censor controversial speakers. This is cause for serious concern. Mob rule is incompatible with the rule of law, which is one of the foundations of a free society, along with free speech. Indeed, the apparent purpose of the Antifa is to destroy the free society and create an equal society in its place.
Chris Hayes from MSNBC seemed to question the importance of recent events on college campuses on Twitter a few days ago:
For some reason, the significance of what’s going on in our colleges and universities is lost on Hayes. Berkeley, the birthplace of the free speech movement, has been taken hostage by the Antifa mob. We didn’t defend it against them, and they took it with ease. The same can happen to other universities if we don’t nip this in the bud.
Make no mistake, these people are at war with western civilization. If we ignore them, they will gain more ground. Let’s not let them.