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Watch The Intellectuals

Police in Berkeley laid down a wall to prevent demonstrators from storming university building where Ann Coulter was speaking (KPIX screenshot)

Hundreds of “anti-hate” protesters took to the UC Berkeley campus tonight to protest Ann Coulter’s speech, and to try to prevent people from going in to hear her. Look at this:

Yes, it’s Berkeley, but you know as well as I do that if right-wingers were forming a human wall preventing people from going to hear a prominent left-wing speaker, it would be on all the national news outlets, and we would be talking about the Coming Crisis Of Fascism. But as it is, this is just another day in progressive America.

Seriously, what if a mob of white people at a major American university banded together to prevent people of color and their allies from going into a hall to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak? How do you think our media would frame it? They would report the hell out of it, and they should report the hell out of it, because a mob preventing anybody from going to hear someone speak is un-American, and a serious violation of our traditions. This should not happen in America, and especially not at a university.

But like I said: just another day in progressive America.

Here police have to escort students in who just want to hear a campus speaker. Otherwise, they might be beaten up by the mob of peace-loving progressives:

Look — but better not play this at work. The enraged mob chants, “F–k Ann Coulter!”

What is it going to take to fight this? It’s so exasperating how little people in this country care about the fact that left-wing mobs are taking our liberties from us, and our political leaders — including Donald Trump — are doing nothing about it. Barely even talking about it. I honestly don’t get it. We should not be living in a country where people who want to go hear a speaker have to be protected by police simply to get into the hall. You know what this looks like?

That’s a History Channel screenshot of an image of the Little Rock 9, black high schoolers who, in order to exercise their constitutional right to go to class, had to be accompanied by, and protected from the racist mob by, US soldiers. It was a disgrace to this country — a different sort of disgrace, because it had to do with race hatred, but nevertheless a similar disgrace to what happens at Berkeley, in that a fanatical mob attempts to stop free people from going to hear a speaker of whom they disapprove.

We know that the US media do not care about things like this. Look at how quickly they sided with the mob against the Covington Catholic boys, simply because the boys were wearing MAGA hats, and (therefore) fit the left-wing narrative. But what about the rest of us? Why don’t the rest of us care? I’m not interested in hearing Ann Coulter speak, but I am very, very much interested in fighting the mob culture that seeks to shut down speakers like Ann Coulter, in part by howling curses at, and attempting to humiliate, Americans who are interested in what she has to say.

If you think this is going to stay in Berkeley, you’re mistaken. This mob action might not spread to places outside of the coasts, but here’s what’s going to happen: those young people who join the mobs, they are going to graduate and move into the institutions of American life. They are going to carry their militant illiberalism, including their contempt for free speech and open discourse, into those institutions, and are going to do their damnedest to institutionalize them. One thing I have learned from the past few months spent studying Soviet-bloc communism: watch the intellectual class. It is a very big mistake to think that what they say and do only matters in the shadow of the ivory tower. They are the ones who produce the ideas that are eventually spread through society. If you don’t care about this stuff when it happens now, on campuses, you had better prepare yourself to be made to care later, when graduates of these campuses are setting corporate policy, or serving as gatekeepers to the institutions you want your “deplorable” kids to get into. This is not a joke.

UPDATE:More “Watch The Intellectuals” news, this time from Syracuse University, which has been going through a spasm of alleged racist threats. Read on:

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud told the university’s student senate on Wednesday that the latest episode of racist activity on campus was likely fake, following protests and criticism from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“It was apparent that this rumor was probably a hoax, but that reality was not communicated clearly and rapidly enough to get ahead of escalating anxiety,” Syverud said Wednesday.

But:

At a campus forum later Wednesday, student protesters called for Syverud’s resignation and walked out when he wouldn’t promise to sign onto all their demands as written, according to news accounts. They marched to his house, chanting, “Sign or resign!”

On Thursday, Syverud announced he had signed on to “nearly all” of the demands, including mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff and $1 million to change the curriculum in order to better address diversity.

So, a likely hoaxer and his allies bullied the administration of this university into paying a million dollars to teach propaganda, and to compel teachers and staff to undergo political re-education. From what was likely a hoax. 

Again and again: why aren’t Republicans talking about things like this every damn day?

UPDATE.2: A reader points to this passage from a local Berkeley paper’s story on the protest:

However, [UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo] Bennett said she was “sympathetic” to students concerned about the heavy presence of police in riot gear around Wheeler.

“I totally understand that,” she said. “We did messaging to impacted groups that felt the presence of police caused them anxiety.” [UC Berkeley spokesman Dan] Mogulof echoed Bennett. The concerns were “understandable on a lot of different levels,” he said. “We have work to do to continue to find ways we can accommodate profound differences of opinion. We believe we have met our obligations to both free speech and the rule of law, and to provide for the safety and well-being of students and campus guests,” he said. “Having said that, I understand that students are deeply disturbed and unsettled by someone whose views they deeply disagree with.” He said counseling and other services are always available to students.

Unbelievable. The authorities here — the police chief and the university spokesman — sympathize with the mobbed-up students whose fanaticism and violence required police presence so that a conservative speaker could address those who wanted to hear her. No wonder the First Amendment is losing. The authorities pity the tyrannical mob.

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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