In 1963 and 1964 the Berkeley Free Speech movement defined a generation of morally courageous students who reminded us that freedom of speech is a foundational American value. The protest was sparked when the college began enforcing a ban on political activity on campus and it had close ties to the Civil Rights Movement, which was making important strides at that point in history. Those students understood the importance of freedom of speech. They understood that without protections for non-violent speech there would be nothing to prevent political discourse from devolving into violent conflict.
But today something radical has happened at Berkeley. Students are staging protests and calling for the exact converse of freedom of speech. They are calling for people’s voices to be suppressed. They are calling for ‘safe spaces’ where they do not have to hear the ideas of those who think differently to them, and they are literally fighting to expand those safe spaces.
In recent months, conservative speakers have been denied access to college campuses to give speeches and expound on conservative ideas. They have been shut down by disruptive protesters shouting repetitive slogans, setting off fire alarms, making bomb threats, harassing attendees, and attacking them with clubs, mace, and mob tactics. While all of this has gone on, campus police- most noticeably at Berkeley- have been ordered to stand down. They have been filmed retreating into buildings as masked Antifa members mounted coordinated assaults on people coming to attend lectures by conservative speakers.
On top of all this, in light of the violence that follows conservative speakers on college campuses, school administration has been demanding exorbitant security fees from the likes of Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro and others who are being blamed for the violence being directed against their audiences.
Perhaps the worst development of all this is the silencing of conservative students at Berkeley in their day to day lives. While right leaning students at Berkeley have long felt themselves to be a minority on campus, today, the tone is different. Today, these students fear more than social ostracism, they fear the very real possibility that they may be physically assaulted for their views by their fellow students. They fear that should they speak up- they may be beaten, discriminated against by their teachers, even accused of crimes that they did not commit and wrung out by campus tribunals.
These are all very real threats which are being faced by any student on most college campuses who do not actively agree with many of the most extreme tenets of the radical left.
Not content to simply give in to the fear and, by default, hand over complete control of the academy to leftist ideologues, a few conservative students are standing up and making themselves heard.
Naweed Tamas, a member of a Republican Club at Berkeley told RT reporters that after discovering Tamas supported Donald Trump one of his professors said to him, “I had such high hopes for you.”
A chilled atmosphere exists on campus where college republicans attempt to share their views. The college has made it clear that any remarks made by students that may be interpreted as racist or sexist can be punished by a campus tribunal, amounting to fines, suspension, or expulsion. As a result, students incessantly stand around their tables writing down and recording everything that is said in hopes of catching them saying anything that might be construed as punishable. This has created a situation where students are afraid to come near campus conservatives or to speak in their defense.
Tamas went on to describe the atmosphere around the tables he and his group set up on campus to promote their ideas. “There have been many instances where students have rushed up to our tables, tried to spit on us, destroyed our materials, tried to run away with our signs.”
Jose Diaz, another conservative Berkeley student, describes the scene where masked Antifa members violently attack his friend. “We had two individuals pull up here on Telegraph Avenue while I was in the middle of an interview and assault one of my friends. I had to come to his aid to fend off the two attackers.”
As more and more pressure is placed on student’s ability to exercise their first amendment right to free speech, the inevitable result will be violence. Violence is the inevitable consequence of suppression of free speech. This is something the founding fathers understood, and history will be revisited to the extent to which we forget its lessons.
~ American Liberty Report