Is it time for conservatives to “shut down” anti-Israel campus speakers?
We’ve seen too many cases of liberal activists, frequently abetted by antifa gangs, either shutting down or attempting to shut down conservative speakers on campuses around the nation of late. Free Speech week was no exception, nor was Ben Shapiro’s Berkeley appearance before that. It’s with that in mind that an upcoming set of public speaking events has led me to consider a related question.
As the Free Beacon reports this week, two particularly odious speakers, Thomas Suarez and Christopher Bollyn, are currently conducting book tours which take them to college campuses and bookstores around the country. Their well known antisemitic tirades against the State of Israel make them particularly popular among the furthest left, BDS crowd.
Two speakers who peddle conspiracy theories about Israeli responsibility for terror activities have been making the rounds at U.S. campuses and libraries on separate book tours.
Thomas Suarez and Christopher Bollyn have made appearances throughout the country, the first to promote his book State of Terror: How terrorism created modern Israel, the latter to push his volume, The War on Terror: The Plot to Rule the Middle East.
Suarez appeared at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on Sept. 18, while Bollyn stopped off at San Jose State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Saturday.
Neither of these speakers are particularly subtle. Suarez has compared the “cult” of Zionism to Nazism, accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and portrayed both the Israeli military and U.S. law enforcement as racist. Bollyn actually makes Suarez look moderate by comparison, giving regular talks in which he accuses the Jews of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
Suarez allegedly has speaking engagements coming up at both Rutgers and Columbia University, though neither is confirmed on the calendar yet. Bollyn is making a few stops at libraries promoting his most recent manifesto.
Here’s the thing about the recent appearances by these speakers. While there were some people showing up each time to protest, they stayed outside for the most part, gave their own speeches and talked to the local press. But nobody attempted to “shut down” the events. You’ll also notice that none of these appearances garnered any sort of traction on the major cable news networks or in the nation’s larger newspapers. They were simply allowed to speak their minds, regardless of how vile the message was and move on to the next town.
Why is that? Because conservative groups, including the most vocal supporters of Israel, don’t “shut down” other speakers. They make their own case and generally leave it up to the public to make up their own minds. But perhaps it’s time for that to change. Have things gotten bad enough at this point that conservatives should start gathering together some ginned up crowds and employing the heckler’s veto themselves? After all, this is hate speech we’re talking about, and the Left has repeatedly assured us that hate speech is violence and any measure taken to counter it is justified, right?
I’m not talking about recruiting some sort of armed anti-antifa paramilitary squads to set fire to the libraries and take on the cops. Just a very vocal and large volume crowd to block entrances to buildings, flood the facility with protesters and continue shouting until the anti-Semites leave the stage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish typing that paragraph without getting a sick feeling. It’s completely wrong. That’s not what America is about, and despite the hateful nature of their rhetoric they’re supposed to be able to spout it in the public square.
But we’re fighting an asymmetric war here. The other side has no honor and honors no rules. Allowing them to continue spreading this anti-Israeli hate and recognizing their right to speak while they continually either get speakers with opposing views cancelled or drowned out means that you’re losing the battle of ideas in public forums. I just don’t know. Adopting their tactics means that we’re essentially throwing in the towel and abandoning the First Amendment. But doing nothing is also a self-destructive path. I’ll toss this one out to the readers to discuss.