Acting Homeland Security Secretary shouted down by protesters at Georgetown Law

Acting Homeland Security Secretary shouted down by protesters at Georgetown Law

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was scheduled to give a speech today at Georgetown Law, after which he had agreed to take questions. But a group of protesters instead decided to offer a demonstration of the heckler’s veto, shouting over McAleenan every time he tried to say a few words.

Protesters stood and chanted when McAleenan took the stage as keynote speaker at an annual conference hosted by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. The event’s attendees included immigration lawyers, current and former DHS officials and pro-migrant advocates.

“When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” the protesters shouted. The protesters read the names of children who died at the border under the Trump administration and held signs bearing the message, “hate is not normal.”…

McAleenan tried several times to begin his speech Monday, but protesters repeatedly interrupted him.

Doris Meissner, a former INS commissioner who was on the dais, repeatedly asked the activists to sit down. The third time McAleenan was interrupted she said, “It’s time to finish this. You’re robbing the rest of this audience of an opportunity to engage in a dialogue that is important to have on a university campus.” She added, “Until we hear we are not in a conversation, so let’s stop the one-way street. Let’s listen to the speaker, then let’s have an exchange.”

McAleenan started again but five seconds later the protesters, who never sat down, resumed chanting. Meissner once again asked the activists to be quiet but McAleenan could be seen signaling a member of his security detail, “One more time.”

“As a career law enforcement professional, I’ve dedicated my career to protecting the right to free speech and all the values we hold dear in America, from all threats,” McAleenan said.

“Bulls**t,” someone in the audience replied. A moment later, as the chanting started up again, McAleenan shook hands with Meissner and prepared to leave.

Before he could get out the door, Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute came to the microphone to address the protesters: “Colleagues, you’re invoking democracy. Democracy requires dialogue. It requires listening,” he said. McAleenan didn’t look pleased but agreed to try again. This time he got a few sentences out before the chanting started up. McAleenan said “Thank you,” to Meissner and walked out. Selee later tweeted he was “deeply saddened” by the behavior of the activists:

This is a perfect example of the heckler’s veto in action. These protesters didn’t want to challenge McAleenan, they wanted to silence him. Meissner and Selee said the right things but didn’t ask the protesters to leave. Better yet, they could have had security remove the protester after the third or fourth interruption. That’s what they should have done once it became clear reasoning with the activists wasn’t working. There was also a smaller group of student protesters outside the speech who seem to be surrounded by security:

At least one Georgetown Law professor praised the students who shouted McAleenan down. Notice the wording here. Organizers “refused to heed” attempts at persuasion:

I suspect this professor wouldn’t enjoy someone doing this to her in her classroom. But for the new left, free speech is contingent on saying what they want to hear. Here’s the heckler’s veto in action:

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