Trump Threatens to Take Away UC Berkeley’s Federal Funding Following Cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos’ Talk
By "talk" we mean "hate speech".
Settle in, folks: this one’s going to be a story.
Milo Yiannopoulos, alt-right (read: white supremacist) “provocateur” saw his talk at UC Berkeley cancelled following student protests outside the venue where he was scheduled to
vomit hatred in front of 200 attendees deliver a speech. In the hours leading up to the talk, students assembled and attempted to disrupt the talk from outside. The protests escalated into something else entirely following the cancellation of the talk as members of the Black Bloc anarchist group began to turn out in droves to disrupt and protest in their own way.
Members of the group began firing fireworks and throwing bricks at police officers, who were stationed all around the venue in full riot gear. According to SF Gate, businesses also reported damage to storefronts and windows.
Amongst those decrying the actions of the Black Bloc and the protesters is Yiannopoulos (sure, of course) and President Trump, who tweeted a veiled threat that he would eliminate the funding supplied to UC Berkeley by the federal government. (As a side note: that federal funding goes to fund things like cancer research, climate change research, and more. So, you know, that’s what we’d stand to lose.) The fact that Trump would specifically threaten (and make no mistake, it is a threat) UC Berkeley in defense of someone as vehemently hateful as Yiannopoulos is still more proof that Trump exists on a platform of marginalization and hatred for marginalized people.
Here’s the thing about these protests: while the Black Bloc certainly escalated the situation and possibly placed other peaceful protesters at risk (especially protesters of color and folks belonging to marginalized communities), their actions pale in comparison to the implications and possibilities that have arisen as a result of allowing Yiannopoulos a platform from which he can dispense his hatred. He’s already made it clear in the previous outing of a trans student that his tour is one meant to infringe upon the rights of and further marginalize people who are already disproportionately targeted for violence due to their identity.
To him, the tour is publicity; it is a means to an end, the end being the advancement of his own infamy and popularity. But to the many people who are targeted by his so-called “jokes,” his tour represents an assemblage of fanatics who would see entire swaths of the population institutionally eliminated. His tour represents the normalization and mobilization of a platform built on hatred and oppression. How can we allow something like that at our educational institutions? How can we allow hate speech to masquerade as free speech? How can we hope for any kind of “civil discourse” with the people who seek to enable violence and hatred against us?
Giving Yiannopoulos and people like him a platform enables them to advocate for ideologies based in oppression and hatred. It is not free speech.
I’ll always advocate for protest and civil disobedience. It is one of the many tools available to us as citizens to demonstrate our dissatisfaction towards those who would seek to see us gone, so I’m finding it hard to completely condemn the actions of the Black Bloc. Lest we forget: that Nazi-punching meme only exists because a member of the Black Bloc moved to eliminate the platform of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.
Moreover, do not forget that at a peaceful protest against Yiannopoulos’ talk elsewhere, a peaceful protester was shot in the stomach by an alt-right white supremacist outspoken supporter of Trump and Yiannopoulos.
There is no space to have “calm, rational debate” with anybody who espouses and extols ideologies that involve actual god damned genocide. If your “free speech” is rooted in the further oppression and persecution of already-marginalized people, then you are not using free speech—it is hate speech.
There should be no platform, no venue, no safe place afforded to fascist, neo-Nazis, their messages, and their ideologies. There is no “meaningful, peaceful debate” to be had with those who push such hatred. None. Full stop.
(image via cdrin/Shutterstock.com)
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