DePaul President Compares Campus Protesters To D-Day Soldiers

Blake Neff | Reporter

The president of DePaul University released a letter in response to the campus’s meltdown over a Milo Yiannopoulos visit. In the letter, he criticizes campus protesters while also comparing them to World War II soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

Yiannopoulos, a writer for Breitbart, has been touring college campuses across the country as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Yiannopoulos’s irreverent, often inflammatory rhetoric has made his events a target for protests, and his visit to DePaul University Tuesday night was no exception.

In one of the biggest disruptions yet, Black Lives Matter activists hijacked the event just a few minutes in and turned it into a screaming match, while gatherings outside nearly turned into a full-blown riot.

In a letter released Wednesday, DePaul president Rev. Dennis Holtschneider chastised both the supporters and critics of Yiannopoulos while connecting the events to a visit he made to the D-Day battlefield in France.

“I am writing from France, where Fr. [Edward] Udovic and I are leading a mission trip to introduce our trustees to the life and legacy of St. Vincent de Paul,” Holtschneider says to open his message. “Because today is a free day, a number of us are spending the day in Normandy, touring the museum, walking the famous beaches of the D-Day landings and standing silent before the rows and rows of graves honoring the men and women who gave their lives so others might live in freedom.”

Holtschneider begins not by chastising the DePaul protesters, but instead by spending multiple paragraphs attacking Yiannopoulos, who’s “unworthy of university discourse.” Only after this does he finally say it was unacceptable for protesters to invade and disrupt the event.

“Yesterday’s speaker was invited to speak at DePaul, and those who interrupted the speech were wrong to do so,” he says. “I was ashamed for DePaul University when I saw a student rip the microphone from the hands of the conference moderator and wave it in the face of our speaker.”

Holtschneider then also praises the anti-Yiannopoulos protesters for having convictions similar to the men who were killed at Normandy.

“Here in Normandy, I expected to be moved by the generosity of those who gave their lives on the beaches early on June 6, 1944,” he writes. “I did not expect, however, to be shocked when I realized that most of the soldiers were the same ages as our students today. The rows on rows of white crosses in the American cemetery speak to the selflessness of the human spirit at early adulthood to lay down their lives for a better world. I realize that many of yesterday’s protesters hold similarly noble goals for a more inclusive world for those traditionally held aside by our society.”

Holschneider concluded by urging students to remember something else that the men on Omaha Beach died for: Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and other rights enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

“We honor their sacrifice best if we, too, remember and honor all the rights of human freedom, even as we fight for more freedom and justice for all.”

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