My Free Speech At Berkeley — Not

David Horowitz President, David Horowitz Freedom Center
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A full-page ad is appearing in today’s Daily Californian, calling on students to “COME HEAR DAVID HOROWITZ SPEAK AT BERKELEY ON APRIL 12.” Following this, the ad says, “COME HEAR HIM, THAT IS, IF YOU CAN FIND HIM!” Well actually you can’t. That’s because the UC Berkeley Administration, which is determined to keep its students “safe” from conservative speakers like me, chose to place such onerous restrictions on the event that its hosts, Berkeley College Republicans, felt they had to cancel it.

University officials will tell you that the restrictions were necessary to ensure public safety, but this will just be the most egregious of their self-serving lies. They will seek to validate this by invoking the February riot, which prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus, causing $100,000 damage in the process. Milo is one of the most non-violent human beings one will ever meet. He is not responsible for that riot; the Berkeley Administration and the UC police are. It was their responsibility to present a show of force that would have prevented the mayhem, and failing that to arrest the perpetrators and see to it that they received long jail sentences and were required to pay restitution for the damage. But the UC can’t be bothered with actual concerns for public safety. In fact, the UC Police Department led by Captain Alex Yao, did nothing to stop or arrest the rioters, or to think twice before rioting again, say at my event or at Ann Coulter’s which is scheduled to take place at the end of the month.

A recent article in The Daily Californian on Berkeley’s history of student activism quoted me as saying this: “I would characterize today’s student left as fascist. … They want to shut down everyone who disagrees with them. In the ‘60s, the left still had some democratic aspirations. I don’t see that today. Berkeley is a national disgrace.” I offered these views even before the UC Administration caused the cancellation of the speech I was scheduled to give tomorrow. To my summary of the problem, I would add that Berkeley’s leftwing professors who encourage these views are also culpable, and also UAW union 3865 which represents over 16,000 “student-workers” across the UC system and sent out an email calling on the university not to give me a platform for to speak on campus, citing alleged “Islamophobic and xenophobic campaigns my Freedom Center has sponsored. Does anyone think the rights of the lowly College Republicans were a serious consideration for UC administrators when balanced against prejudices of the 16,000 members of a union notorious for its thuggery?

Everyone is by now familiar with the left’s desire to silence its political opponents. A liberal with integrity, Kirsten Powers, has even written a first-rate book titled, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. But the university regularly turns a blind eye to the antics of its leftist totalitarians, and does nothing about them. Indeed, acts to appease them by placing crushing burdens on conservative students who want to hear other opinions – which is perfectly understandable since their professors and reading lists were long ago purged of conservative viewpoints.

The College Republicans who were indiscreet enough to invite me to campus, originally had asked for a speaking time of 4PM. At that time, most classes would be over so that students could attend their event. They asked for a venue on campus for the same reason. They were denied both. Justifying this sabotage of their event, the Vice Chancellor for Student affairs invoked “security” concerns on the authority of Captain Yao. Yao insisted the event could only be held at 1PM, coincidently a time when afternoon classes were just starting and few students were likely to skip them to attend a lecture for which there were no academic credits. In addition, Captain Yao was adamant that the event could only be held at a site a half mile away from the actual campus, adding yet another deterrent to any students attending. He warned me personally, that while we could announce the event, we could not advertise its location. All these strictures were in lieu of providing a strong force to deter potential troublemakers, or providing an explicit warning to radical student groups that if any of their members were found to be obstructing such an event their club would have its campus recognition withdrawn for a year.

Apparently all these obstacles to a successful event weren’t in the eyes of the Vice Chancellor and his police captain enough. So two days before the event, when air tickets had been purchased and a full-page ad announcing the event had been placed in the Daily Californian, my Republican hosts were summoned to an audience with Vice Chancellor Stephen Sutton and UCPD Captain Yao to be told that their club was going to be charged $5778 for “security,” and an additional $2000 for the room that was half a mile from campus.

Berkeley is a disgrace. But it is just the most visible example of a nationwide trend among universities to bow to the desires of the totalitarian left and further their goal of suppressing ideas they don’t like. Just days before my event, the Manhattan Institute’s expert on law enforcement, Heather MacDonald, was shouted down and prevented from speaking at Claremont College by students chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Heather Mac has got to go,” and “shut it down,” and “How do you spell C-M-C? Fascist.” (C-M-C is the name of their college.)Two dozen campus police officers watched the proceedings and did nothing. The Claremont administration which should have suspended everyone of these students for a term or expelled them, did nothing.

At the same time UC Berkeley and universities like it discourage conservatives, they open their arms to racist organizations like Black Lives Matter and terrorist support groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, a range of radical organizations. They provide them with offices and money, and deploy their police forces to destroy posters and literature opposing them. This behavior is a pretty clear violation of the civil rights of conservative students, who pay the same tuition at taxpayer funded institutions as left-wing fascists do. Perhaps the newly installed lawyers in the civil rights division of the Trump Education Department will pay the attention to this problem that its severity and injustices and threat to our democracy demand.