Firestorm alert: Steve Bannon headed to Berkeley

I’m old enough to remember when Berkeley was planning on having a Free Speech Year. Clearly that plan was a bit too ambitious, so one group of conservatives is toning it down to a more compact Free Speech Week, kicking off on September 24th. And if you think that the appearance of Ben Shapiro in Berkeley this week is going to stir up some controversy and possible hot Antifa action, wait until they find out that Steve Bannon is coming.

The week in question is being organized by Milo and thus far they’re only teasing the Bannon appearance as “brief remarks” on the closing day of the celebration of free speech. (LA Times)

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is scheduled to come to UC Berkeley later this month as part of a four-day event organized by his former Breitbart employee and conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos.

The event is titled “Berkeley Free Speech Week” and is set to begin Sept. 24, the latest in a series of planned speaking engagements by notable conservatives in the liberal enclave. Bannon “will deliver short remarks” on the final day of the event, according to a news release announcing the engagement.

Over the last year, some of these speaking commitments have been canceled or ended in violent clashes.

There’s an obvious comparison to be drawn here because Ben Shapiro is notable and hated on the left primarily just for his own personal style, writings and public appearances. But thanks to the mainstream media and the national patchwork of #RESIST groups, Bannon is as close as they’re likely to get to having an actual dragon to slay.

Cable news outlets and the major, left side newspapers have built Bannon into something of a mythic figure, depicted as the “real brains” behind the Trump campaign as well as the author of some of his most despised policies as viewed by liberals. When he wound up with a senior advisory role inside the Oval Office the outrage in many quarters was palpable.Time Magazine was obviously trying to get under Donald Trump’s skin when they put Bannon on the cover (an effort which reportedly had some effect), but they also lofted him further up in the hierarchy of hate on the left.

This should leave us wondering precisely how much security will be on hand at Berkeley that week and how willing they will be to fight back against any violent left wing attackers. Because if there’s a more tempting target for Antifa than Bannon (short of Donald Trump himself, of course) I can’t think of it off the top of my head. But perhaps that’s the idea behind this in the end. After all, the whole show is being staged by Milo and there seems to be little that he likes more than generating controversy and mayhem. Assuming nobody is killed or seriously injured, a major Antifa incursion and riot would probably be the best PR that this event could generate.

Break out the popcorn and get a comfortable seat near the television that week. I don’t know how much productive and uninterrupted speaking will actually go on, but it’s sure to be an interesting event.