My Free Speech at Berkeley, Not

How universities like Berkeley aim to kill free speech.

A full-page ad is appearing in today’s Daily Californian, calling on students to “COME HEAR DAVID HOROWITZ SPEAK AT BERKELEY ON APRIL 12.” Following this, the ad says, “COME HEAR HIM, THAT IS, IF YOU CAN FIND HIM!” Well actually you can’t. That’s because the UC Berkeley Administration, which is determined to keep its students “safe” from conservative speakers like me, chose to place such onerous restrictions on the event that its hosts, Berkeley College Republicans, felt they had to cancel it.

University officials will tell you that the restrictions were necessary to ensure public safety, but this will just be the most egregious of their self-serving lies. They will seek to validate this by invoking the February riot, which prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus, causing $100,000 damage and physical violence to bystanders in the process. Milo was not responsible for that riot; the Berkeley Administration and the UC police were. It was their responsibility to present a show of force that would have prevented the mayhem, and failing that to arrest the perpetrators and see to it that they received long jail sentences and were required to pay restitution for the damage they caused. But the UC can’t be bothered with actual concerns for public safety. In fact, the UC Police Department led by Captain Alex Yao, did nothing to stop or arrest the rioters, who as a result will not have to  think twice before rioting again, say at my event or at Ann Coulter’s which is scheduled to take place at the end of the month.

A recent article in The Daily Californian on Berkeley’s history of student activism quoted me as saying this: “I would characterize today’s student left as fascist. … They want to shut down everyone who disagrees with them. ... Berkeley is a national disgrace.” I offered these views even before the UC Administration caused the cancellation of the speech I was scheduled to give on the 12th. To my summary of the problem, I would add that Berkeley’s leftwing professors who encourage these views are also culpable, along with UAW union 3865 which represents over 16,000 “student-workers” across the UC system and sent out an email calling on the university not to give me a platform to speak on campus, citing alleged “Islamophobic and xenophobic campaigns my Freedom Center has sponsored." Does anyone think the rights of the lowly College Republicans were a serious consideration for UC administrators when balanced against prejudices of the 16,000 members of a union notorious for its thuggery? 

Everyone is by now familiar with the left’s desire to silence its political opponents. A liberal with integrity, Kirsten Powers, has even written a first-rate book titled, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. But the university regularly condones the antics of its leftist totalitarians, desperate for what all appeasers seek: peace in its time. So desperate is the administration to appease leftists within, in fact, that it willingly places placing crushing burdens on conservative students who want to hear other opinions – not possible in their classrooms because their professors and reading lists were long ago purged of conservative viewpoints.

The College Republicans who invited me to campus, originally had asked for a speaking time of 4PM. At that time, most classes would be over so that students could attend their event. They asked for a venue on campus for the same reason. They were denied both. Justifying this sabotage of their event, the Vice Chancellor for Student affairs invoked “security” concerns on the authority of Captain Yao. Yao insisted the event could only be held at 1PM, a time when afternoon classes were just starting. In addition, Captain Yao was adamant that the event could only be held at a site a half mile away from the actual campus, adding yet another deterrent to any students wanting to attend. He warned me personally, in a moment calling up Kafka as well as Orwell, that while we could announce the event, we could not advertise its location. 

But even all these obstacles to a successful event weren’t in the eyes of the Vice Chancellor and his police captain enough. So two days before the event, when air tickets had been purchased and a full-page ad announcing the event had been placed in the Daily Californian, my Republican hosts were summoned to an audience with Vice Chancellor Stephen Sutton and UCPD Captain Yao to be told that their club was going to be charged $5778 for “security,” and an additional $2000 for rental on the room that was half a mile from campus.

This entire episode spits in the face of Berkeley’s alleged commitment to free speech. It is simply an outrage, another disgraceful chapter in the nationwide story of the university’s sycophantic capitulation to the totalitarian left and collaboration in its suppression of ideas they don’t like. Just days before my event was given a crib death by the UC administration, the Manhattan Institute’s expert on law enforcement, Heather MacDonald, was shouted down and prevented from speaking at Claremont College by students chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Heather Mac has got to go,” and “shut it down.” Two dozen campus police officers watched the proceedings and did nothing. The Claremont administration did nothing, just as the UC Berkeley administration did nothing when masked thugs trashed  the Milo event and the campus.

At the same time UC Berkeley and universities like it discourage conservatives, they open their arms to racist organizations like Black Lives Matter and terrorist support groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, a range of radical organizations. They provide them with offices and money, and deploy their police forces to destroy literature and speech opposing them. This behavior is a pretty clear violation of the civil rights of conservative students, who pay the same tuition at taxpayer funded institutions as leftwing fascists do. Perhaps the newly installed lawyers in the civil rights division of the Trump Education Department will pay the attention to this problem that the threat it poses to our democracy demand.

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