The violent uprising at UC Berkeley last week, sparked by Milo Yiannopoulos’s Freedom Center-sponsored speech on “sanctuary campuses,” could have been put down by authorities by enforcing existing federal law, but they didn’t act.
They let Berkeley burn.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin (D) seemed to green-light the riots, employing the twisted leftist logic of the radicals who turned the campus into a war zone.
“Using speech to silence marginalized communities and promote bigotry is unacceptable,” he tweeted, in a reference to Yiannopoulos. “Hate speech isn't welcome in our community.”
Hours into the rioting Wednesday no arrests had been made by the police. In all, only three arrests were made.
The Daily Californian, the Berkeley student newspaper, along with much of the media, downplayed the politically motivated violence. Of the three arrests, reporter Chantelle Lee wrote, “UCPD has arrested one suspect at the Milo Yiannopoulos protests Wednesday night and two suspects in an unrelated incident Thursday morning.”
She wrote that 19-year-old Edward Thomas Kuo, “who is not affiliated with the campus, was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of remaining ‘in the place of a riot,’” according to a UCPD spokeswoman. “We had given a dispersal order,” the spokeswoman said. “He remained in the area and was blocking the path of the police, who were trying to move a skirmish line along.”
The “unrelated incident Thursday” Lee writes of wasn’t unrelated at all. Officers arrested Oakland resident Devonte Gaskin, 28, and San Francisco resident Sean Seuss, 27, when they were observed “assaulting two (individuals who) self-identified as Berkeley College Republicans, who were giving interviews to the media on Sproul Plaza.”
And whatever may the campus Republicans have been talking to the media about? Take a guess.
The rioting was all too predictable. Berkeley campus police gave the rioters permission to run amok by following a no-arrest policy, Yiannopoulos’s tour security coordinator Tej Gill told Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM satellite radio. “The police effectively did nothing, nothing while we were there,” he said.
Gill, a U.S. Navy SEAL, continued:
It just fuels the fire, the no arrest thing, hands off policy, every time they do this and they do it successfully with no arrest, no trouble, there’s no consequences and if there’s no consequences why stop? Each time they’re gonna get stronger and stronger.
Preventing riots isn’t hard, according to Gill.
It’s simple, enforce the law. That’s it. Just enforce the law. When we go to the conservative campuses the police departments there are amazing, the shows go off without a hitch, they’re orderly, they give the protesters room to protest and they give the Milo supporters room to support Milo then they keep everybody separated. Liberal campuses have effectively emasculated the police forces there. They’ve totally been politicized, they don’t let them do their job, they actually have a hands off and no arrests policy, one of the guys at Berkeley told me this.
Police are not powerless in the face of left-wing protesters hell-bent on destruction, but their political masters refuse to let them do their jobs.
For too long rioters have been cloaking themselves in the First Amendment while they destroy the democratic underpinnings of our free society. And police have been reluctant to interfere by restoring order.
The outrageous behavior tolerated by police today would have landed a person in jail earlier in America’s history. Political incitements to riot, indeed the rioting itself, fails to move law enforcement.
Because as a society we have gradually become resigned to these despicable tactics. It is “defining deviancy down,” to use Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s phrase that describes how society grows accustomed to antisocial behavior, rationalizing it away over time and redefining it: “[T]he amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond the levels the community can ‘afford to recognize’ and that accordingly we have been redefining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is abnormal by any earlier standard.” Moynihan warned decades ago that “we are getting used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us.”
But it is time to set things right, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy argues in a new NRO column.
Whether it is Berkeley or Benghazi, it is standard operating procedure among the most influential, most allegedly mainstream Democratic politicians to rationalize rioting as mere “protest.” In their alternative reality, violence in the name of sedition is “free speech” — a passionate expression of political dissent — while the actual political speech they so savagely suppress is the atrocity.
McCarthy is right.
Today’s Left sees no distinction between legitimate protest and violent direct action.
Protests are held not to seek redress from the government but to destroy the government-protected right to protest. “No free speech for fascists,” the leftist demonstrators cry as they employ fascistic tactics to intimidate and silence those who, like Milo Yiannopoulos and his supporters, dissent from leftist orthodoxy.
What begin as legitimate demonstrations inevitably degenerate into riots which mainstream media outlets then cover up. The violent protests are sanitized when they are described using the euphemistic phrase “mostly peaceful.”
State and local police forces are controlled by politicians who tolerate or in some cases openly encourage violent uprisings like the race-tinged riots in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. Police nationwide have allowed Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and other street protest movements to run wild. Arrests are rare; prosecutions rarer.
It is time for authorities to treat the Left’s nihilistic violence as the seditious activity that is, McCarthy argues. He urges federal laws be used to shut down rioters.
U.S. law already “criminalizes plots to levy war against the United States, or to oppose by force the government and its execution of the laws,” he writes, adding he used the seditious conspiracy law against the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Treason is too difficult to prove. But not sedition. Sedition charges can stick. It is simply a matter of leaders having the political will to pursue the charges.
“There are charges to bring against those who would destroy our society. They should be brought. Case in point: the University of California at Berkeley.”
It is also a felony, he notes, “to advocate the destruction of the federal or state governments and their subdivisions” and there is “a sweeping federal anti-riot law, making it a crime to incite, organize, promote, participate in, or aid and abet a riot.”
Moreover, federal civil rights laws already make it a crime to conspire to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” individuals “in the free exercise or enjoyment” of their constitutional rights, which includes free speech rights.
These laws further criminalize forcible acts and threats that interfere with people’s lawful enjoyment of any federally subsidized activity (note that the government provides lavish funding to universities). They outlaw interference with the conduct of commercial business during a riot or other civil disorder.
The Obama administration went further than any other administration in history in rationalizing and normalizing rioting, dressing it up with noble-sounding descriptors like social justice and community organizing.
Insurrection has been the stock-in-trade of the Left ever since the 1960s. That era’s radicals took over the Democratic Party and alienated it from its natural working-class roots. The New Left rioted against the Vietnam War, capitalism, racism, and anything identifiably American.
One of the worst legacies of those Days of Rage was the failure of will to prosecute violent leaders of the radical Left to the full extent of the law — particularly the likes of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Weather Underground terrorists who got a complete pass. In its madness, the nation drew a moral equivalence between anti-American terrorism and the excesses of American government agents who pursued the terrorists, as if warrantless searches and spying, however concededly outrageous, were comparable to plots and attempts to commit mass murder. The government did not want the depths of its misconduct explored, so charges were dropped in some cases and pled away for a song in others — denying an exploration of the depths of the terrorists’ depravity.
Ayers, the unrepentant bomb-maker, emerged unscathed and now he is considered by many to be a respectable retired academic.
“Ayers is not just free; he has been lionized — laundered into a respectable academic,” McCarthy writes. “It was a comfy fit for him and many of his confederates, once it dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.”
Barack Obama, himself a Chicago radical, was only too happy to work with Ayers and a constellation of small-c communists determined to bring down America or at least humble it. During Obama’s presidency, left-wing terrorists were treated as misunderstood idealists. New Black Panther Party members were free to intimidate white voters at polling places. Attorney General Eric Holder refused to enforce civil rights laws when the victims were white. Government-paid agitators were sent to racial hotspots to assist demonstrators and fan the flames of discontent.
The message Obama sent could not be clearer, according to McCarthy.
For the political Left in this country, violence in the pursuit of “social justice” is not to be condemned, it is to be understood. There is the occasional winking rebuke of the forcible methods, but the underlying “progressive” cause is always endorsed, and the seditionist vanguard is the object of adulation.
The rioters cannot be reasoned with.
They must be arrested and imprisoned.
“Sedition and its related pathologies must be prosecuted, McCarthy writes. “Equally important, they must be condemned. Without that, there cannot be a pluralistic, flourishing society.”
Americans must get their country back.