In the 1960s, the University of California was a harbour for critical thinkers and enthusiasts of free speech.
Contrastingly, Berkeley’s campus has now degenerated into a cesspool of authoritarian censorship. Through Antifa, America’s heartthrob fascist principled anti-fascists, and campus censorship, the University of California has created an environment hostile for any speaker who differs from the campus’ “progressive” values.
On September 14, Ben Shapiro, the most popularized and well known political commentator amongst conservatives, finally ended Berkeley’s censorship of conservatives on campus.
Shapiro is the number one recipient of anti-semitic hate by the alt-right amongst journalists on Twitter according to a study conducted by the Anti Defamation League (Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign, 2016). He hosted a nearly two hour long presentation on a wide variety of topics. However, the most newsworthy story wasn’t his speech. It was the overwhelming fear disseminated by Antifa.
Numerous businesses were forced to close early and board their windows as precautionary measures for the protests. There was an overwhelming police presence simply to protect a fundamental freedom, the freedom to express one’s opinion. The dissemination of fear occurred as a result of protests when alt-right sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to host a talk. This was ultimately canceled as violent demonstrations from Antifa jeopardized the security of the event. Milo is no conservative and his views are morally repugnant. However, one cannot disregard the fact that Berkeley has a constitutional obligation to protect freedom of speech on campus.
Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy.
By limiting the freedom of expression of certain individuals, we are ultimately limiting the principles of our democracy. George Orwell once said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”. The free speech initiative at Berkeley has been rejuvenated thanks in part to Shapiro and the Young America’s Foundation (YAF). However, what remains is the fear and the chaos amongst numerous conservatives. The fear of being labeled a fascist or a nazi, the fear of being discriminated against or stigmatized for being conservative, the fear of not being able to exercise the most basic fundamental freedom of all, and the chaos amongst conservatives who no longer feel safe on campus. The reign of Antifa and University campuses’ role in censoring free speech has become disconcerting amongst supporters of freedom and democracy across America. However, Ben Shapiro and YAF taught critical thinkers and political science enthusiasts alike an important notion, the notion of hope.
Ben Shapiro, editor of the Daily Wire and political commentator for CNN, Fox, as well as a variety of other mainstream news outlets, is the most well-known conservative pundit in America. His rationale and knowledge of politics have served him well as he rose through the ranks to political stardom. Shapiro holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and graduated from Harvard Law in 2007, went to Berkeley to send a strong message to supporters of campus censorship, you will not silence us. Through civil discourse Ben Shapiro spread his conservative values through a variety of topics ranging from the importance of freedom of speech to the notion of victimization and the libelous nature of American politics in the 21st century. In an otherwise peaceful and celebratory evening, 9 protesters were arrested some of whom were carrying weapons or were arrested for assaulting police officers.
The growing political violence of Antifa and the alt-left has become problematic for numerous campuses across the United States. The United States of America is characterized as a land of freedom, equality and opportunity under the law. The dissemination of violence from Antifa and other politically charged groups, such as the Neo-Nazis and KKK members protesting in Charlottesville, is infringing on the foundational principles of the United States. Such democratic principles include the right to freedom and political equality. The use of censorship and violence to silence political opposition were tactics used by Hitler and the Nazis, Stalin and other Communist dictators and Apartheid in South Africa. The civil rights protests in the 60s and feminist movements in the 70s were so successful because of their use of the very democratic principles groups such as Antifa are ultimately violating. The growing tensions and employment of violent protests in the United States could ultimately prove disastrous for America’s political landscape.
The censorship of Conservative pundits by activist groups such as Antifa, which were further supported by campuses such as UC Berkeley, has contributed to an era of mass political unrest in the United States. Though the initiative to restore free speech on campus has been reinvigorated, Conservatives and political pundits alike realize the great challenge ahead. However, there is ever hope in the land of the free and home of the brave; hope to restore the democratic principles of freedom and political equality Antifa attempts to diminish.