Last week I wrote about a small group of far-left protesters at the University of California Santa Cruz who entered the school’s library and disrupted a meeting by the College Republicans. The group demanded the Republicans vacate the room they had reserved for the meeting because, according to one of the protests, “your existence is a disturbance.” Today, Campus Reform reports that someone has posted (on Reddit) what purports to be an official statement from the group that disrupted the meeting. As you might expect, it’s truly awful. Let’s walk through some of this:
Last Sunday, on October 15th at UC Santa Cruz, UCPD arrested three students engaged in an act of civil disobedience on campus, showing as the university has time and again, the readiness at which armed force will be called upon to protect the “free speech” of hateful groups at the expense of those who speak out against them. The students arrested were disrupting a College Republicans meeting and demanding that they halt their harmful activity.
The College Republicans were talking in one room in the school library. That’s the “harmful activity” the protester tried to halt. Also note the scare quotes around free speech.
If it wasn’t already clear, it is at this point where we urge everybody to realize that this is not a dialogue. There can be no “dialogue” when the institutional power is given to one side at the expense of the other. There is a reason that right- wing politics like theirs are represented in the mainstream media, while we have to make do with cardboard signs and magic markers.
You should be demoted to crayons. College Republicans President Brandon Lang told Campus Reform, “They are correct—it is not a dialogue when you decide to verbally attack the people you oppose, refusing to hear them out and instead try to shout them down.” He’s correct of course.
The students were arrested on charges of “disturbing the peace”, but it should be known that there is nothing peaceful about the College Republicans. We do not oppose them because of what they say, but because of what they do. The College Republicans spread an agenda of intolerance and terror, and embolden racist violence and bigotry. Their support for Donald Trump and “conservative” policies are directly connected to enforcing social inequalities in the United States, and creating wars and violence abroad. They claim that they are the ones being marginalized by “liberals” and “the left” who are trying to take away their platform, but in fact, they represent the dominant ideas and policies in the United States– the fact that Donald Trump is president is evidence of this.
This is just sad. Trump did win an election but as has been pointed out many, many times he lost the popular vote. The idea that his views dominate the entire country isn’t true as any member of “The Resistance” will tell you. The bottom line is that these protesters don’t even know how the College Republicans feel about Trump because they refused to talk with them.
This is the same power imbalance that we have seen acted out time and time again in confrontations between conservatives, right- wing bigots, white nationalists, and anti- racist and anti- fascist protesters. Let us remember how in Charlottesville, the police took the side of the white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan.
This is not what people who were there said. People on both sides were in agreement that the police did very little of anything even as the protests became violent.
Let us remember how many times universities have allowed prominent white nationalist speakers, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, to come speak on campuses, and what this means in terms of the funding going into advancing their views. In August, UC Berkeley spent over $800,000 on security measures to protect the free speech of the “alt- right”.
This figure was widely reported as was the $600,000 Berkeley spent to protect a speech by Ben Shapiro (who is clearly not a member of the alt-right). What the authors seem to miss is why all of this money is deemed necessary. It’s because of people on the far-left are doing exactly what these protesters were doing in the library, i.e. using the heckler’s veto to try to shut down free speech. No six-figure expenditure is necessary when progressive speakers come to Berkeley because no Republicans are threatening their right to be there.
We acknowledge that the College Republicans do not all agree with the same views as these bigots on the far right, but we must acknowledge that they embolden one another under the same banner of “free speech”.
Again with the scare quotes? Also what does this even mean? The College Republicans (maybe) aren’t bigots but they embolden bigots by believing in the First Amendment?
We see the same imbalance of power reflected here at UCSC. The school has continuously taken the side of racist groups like the College Republicans by defending their harmful speech as “free speech” and “free assembly”.
Scare quotes around two of our most important civil rights. Also, didn’t they just say the College Republicans didn’t hold the same views as the bigots? But one sentence later they’re calling them racists.
The university encourages students to report “hate” to campus authorities, but has never responded to any reports made against the College Republicans. This demonstrates that the university’s commitment to “taking a stand against hate” is false.
Alternatively, it demonstrates that you don’t understand that having different opinions is allowed in America. This nonsense continues for another two paragraphs. The entire document should be framed and posted in the UC Santa Cruz chancellor’s office to remind him and all his successors of the need for basic civics education.
But there is some hope on this front. The LA Times reports today that the University of California is setting up a free speech center. UC president Janet Napolitano even pointed to the Santa Cruz incident as an example of why such a Center is needed:
The University of California, where the free speech movement started and students now argue over how far unrestricted expression should go, announced plans Thursday to launch a national center to study 1st Amendment issues and step up education about them…
UC Santa Cruz campus police arrested three students this month for disrupting a College Republicans meeting, the student newspaper reported. One student a campus reporter spoke to said the protesters viewed the club’s existence as an “act of violence.”
Napolitano called the UC Santa Cruz protesters’ behavior unacceptable, saying it amounted to a “heckler’s veto” aimed at shutting down protected speech.
The question, she said, is why some of today’s students seem less wedded to 1st Amendment values than previous generations.
Which students most consistently get this wrong these days? Napolitano doesn’t specify but if you guessed the ones on the far left, you’re correct.