Campus Intolerance: The Berkeley Protests

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    Courtesy of Ben Margot / AP

    “Without Freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” ― Benjamin Franklin

    More and more every single day, the first amendment of the United States Constitution is besieged by the far left. In particular, on college campuses free speech finds itself suppressed largely due to an intolerant campus culture, which discourages and silences the free exchange of ideas. But, most importantly, profound suppression finds itself most efficient when it comes to the ideas that belong to conservatives or those that do not fall in line with “liberal” or “progressive” ideologies.

    Typically, the intimidation game that occurs on college campuses involves the notion that if you are a conservative or someone that does not agree with the ideas of the Democratic party or the progressive left you are a pariah, an outcast, and not welcome on a college or university campus. But, conservatives can only remain silent for so long and will at one moment or another speak their mind because as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

    Some of the consequences conservatives must face include being labeled as a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a bigot, a Nazi, an anti-Semite, a fascist, a white supremacist, a climate change denier, anti-woman, an inciter of hate speech … the list goes on and on.

    Nowadays, identity politics and name calling are employed to replace constructive conversations and civil discourse. This is a very popular tactic, even though many of these accusations are baseless and without fact. The tactics remind me a lot of tactics used by accusers in witch hunts, the Communist Chinese in the 1960s, and other instances throughout history when individuals are wrongly persecuted.

    Plus, if you dare to express your conservative ideals towards a class assignment you are in danger of failing a class and being targeted by a professor because of an opinion. It is a fact that liberal faculty encompass the staff at universities and colleges outnumbering that of conservatives.

    According to a 2005 study by Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter and Neil Nevitte, 72 percent of professors describe themselves as liberal while 87 percent of professors at Ivy League universities identify as liberal.

    Additionally, a more recent study of University professors published in last year’s November issue of  Econ Journal Watch further demonstrates how much of college faculty identify as liberal.  

    The study determined that after an investigation of 40 leading universities out of 7,243 professors, 3,623 are registered as Democratic and 314 are registered as Republican, “for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1.”

    Negative attitudes towards conservatives is a nationwide issue and as the days go by it gets a lot worse.

    For example, on Feb. 1, 2017, gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak on the campus of University of California, Berkeley. (He is also a perfect example of a conservative who has been repeatedly called a white supremacist, a fascist, a Nazi, and a homophobe even though he is a gay, ethnically Jewish man who, whenever he gets the chance, discusses how much he loves black males.)

    However, the event was violently shut down as a result of a massive riot that broke out because of “anti-fascist” rioters who threatened to endanger the lives of those in attendance of the event especially Yiannopoulos himself.

    Videos of the riot published online show rioters setting fires, smashing windows and ATMs, beating people with “antifa” flags and poles, throwing rocks at police, storming police barricades, looting a Starbucks, and pepper spraying and physically attacking Trump supporters.

    In addition, over $100,000 dollars in damages were inflicted on the university’s student union, and $400,000-$500,000 worth of damage was inflicted on Berkeley’s downtown area.

    But ultimately what occurred at U.C. Berkeley is symbolic of the way in which free speech has been under siege on college campuses despite the fact that U.C. Berkeley was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in 1964, when over 3,000 students rallied for their full constitutional rights on campus.

    This was not the first time that Yiannopoulos or any other conservative has had an event canceled due to threats of violence or mass protest. And it certainly will not be the last.

    Like I said before, it seems more and more everyday that college campuses are growing hostile to the principle of free speech and opposing points of views. I hope that a free exchange of ideas can flourish on college campuses so no one will live in fear of sharing their opinions. In this way, wisdom and liberty can be achieved in our American republic.

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