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Coulter will speak

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APRIL 24, 2017

Continuing in a long, distinguished tradition of despicable censorship, Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell sent out an email April 18 to members of Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA informing them that the campus had unilaterally decided to cancel Ann Coulter’s speaking appearance April 27. He stated that the campus had “been unable to find a safe and suitable venue” for the event. After similar brazen attempts at censorship with Milo Yiannopoulos and David Horowitz, it has become clear that the campus has become a lapdog for the most radical elements of the left, who now feel empowered to threaten violence against BCR, knowing that they have sympathizers in the administration.

BCR was prepared to take on the campus administration and immediately engaged the services of passionate and committed attorney Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, whom I have had the privilege to meet, in order to pursue legal action against the campus. Her law firm recently put out a letter to interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton, going through instance after instance of the campus engaging in what I believe are quasi-fascist tactics to cancel the event.

For instance, the campus claimed that, as per campus policy, Coulter’s event had to end by 3 p.m. and had to be held off campus, as she was a “high-profile speaker.” Not only was this policy ad hoc because it cannot be found in campus policy, but it was also enforced selectively to block Coulter’s speech because a variety of liberal speakers, including Maria Echaveste, who provided the liberal perspective on immigration as a counterpoint to Coulter’s speech, and Vicente Fox, a corrupt former head of state of Mexico, have been permitted to speak on campus, and we haven’t heard a peep about it from the campus, with Echaveste speaking from 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Fox speaking from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Is the former president of Mexico not a high-profile speaker? The selective enforcement of an unwritten policy that was never sent to the student body for its approval is yet another reason why our college is now a national laughing stock.

After the initial cancellation, the administration realized what a PR disaster its move was and it grudgingly allotted time for Coulter to speak May 2. As every UC Berkeley student knows, that is during RRR week, a time when not a single soul roams the streets of Berkeley. Besides, Coulter’s security entourage and the multitude of reporters who were supposed to cover the speech could not make it to Berkeley on this hastily arranged date. Hence, Coulter rejected the campus’s phony offer and vowed to speak at UC Berkeley on the original date of April 27.

The campus’s response to Dhillon’s letter was characteristically meek and began by misgendering her as a male (maybe the campus’s legal counsel should be sent to the Office of Equity and Inclusion for their show of horrifying intolerance to a Sikh American female lawyer). It then went on to concede that the event was canceled because UCPD received “mounting intelligence that some of the same groups that engaged in violent action also intended violence at the Coulter event.” The campus admitted that the event was canceled because left-wing terrorists threatened violence, and God forbid an institution of higher learning stands up to their tyranny.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, a man whose public statements comprise equal amounts of political naivete and socialism, echoed the sentiments of the administration in his recent remarks at the Free Speech Movement Cafe (note the irony). He said, “Public safety is our top priority. And that actually, I believe, takes precedence over freedom of speech.” It is a common tendency among authoritarians to disguise their encroachment on fundamental liberties as actions in the interests of the safety of the community. Arreguin would be well-served — as a public official whose statements have tremendous symbolic significance in this regard — by reading more extensively about the First Amendment and hence avoiding being a malleable tool in the hands of left-wing fanatics.

As Dhillon noted in her response to the letter from the campus’s counsel, the comments of the mayor and the administration point toward the emergence of what is called a “heckler’s veto,” wherein it is sufficient for a person or a group to resort to violence in order to de-platform an opposing speaker who is exercising their rights. The idea that insecurity of some qualifies as an adequate justification for an atrocity of such magnitude is simply preposterous and must be immediately cast aside.

         The title of my previous column, “Let Coulter Speak,” entailed that I was asking for permission from the administration and the various groups that are planning violent acts at her speech. I have since decided that it serves no purpose to negotiate with terrorists and those who support their actions. If the campus continues to behave like a blot on the grand tradition of the American university, it is my duty and that of every other student to stand in its way. If left-wing kooks wish to continue throwing rocks at conservatives while hysterically hollering for safe spaces, it may be time to send them to the safest of all places: a taxpayer-funded prison cell.

Rudra Reddy writes the Monday column on resisting indoctrination. Contact him at [email protected].

APRIL 24, 2017