In recent months, there is a disturbing trend of alt-right speakers scheduled to speak at college campuses and leftist protesters violently shutting them down.
This all came to a climax a few weeks ago when controversial Brietbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos attempted to speak at the University of California Berkeley and students rioted and closed down the event.
Berkeley rioters caused over $100,000 in damages to the school and attacked students trying to attend the event. It goes without saying this these actions are beyond appalling, and are clearly anti-democratic. If Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at Humber, would we react the same way?
I have literally spent hours contemplating why it would be okay to respond with such vitriol towards someone with differing views, but I can’t find any. And what worries me about this moment politically, is that the left — which is my tribe — seems capable of doing everything wrong in response to the rise of the so-called alt right. This is antipathetic to free speech, fueled by a crazy idea that rioting to prevent a lecture is an example of liberal free speech in action.
That is delusional, confused and destructive.
One justification that we hear is that we have allowed fascism and Nazism to come into the North American mainstream and by not opposing it, we are therefore complicit in bringing hateful ideologies into the fold. There is simply not enough space on the page to detail why this wrong. If you were to compare the number of people who actually attend these events to the number of protesters, the attendees are outnumbered roughly 100 to one. In other words, the facts suggest that these ideologies are still very much in the fringe and giving them a moral platform with this form of violent opposition only brings them further into the mainstream.
To put it bluntly, if you riot, you are only a detriment to your own cause.
There is even a North American-wide movement going on around colleges called the “Anti-fas” or anti- fascists. These people stroll around campuses berating anyone who holds an even slightly conservative view as the “next Hitler.”
One of the leaders of this group, which was responsible for the bedlam at UC Berkley, actually defended her actions on Fox News:
“A fascist is someone who’s organizing a mass movement that’s attacking women, immigrants, black people, other minority groups in a movement of genocide. That’s what a fascist is. It is someone who is committing violence and someone who is trying to organize other people to commit violence, and Milo Yiannopoulos is a fascist.”
This is so backwards, it’s hard to fathom. This woman not only gravely mischaracterized fascism as anyone who holds views that may sharply differ from her own, but she was the one who actually organized a group of people to incite violence on Yiannopoulos and his supporters. That is the definition of hypocrisy. Oh, incidentally, she is an elementary school teacher.
The truth is actually very simple: It is never okay to attack someone for holding a different view. It’s called democracy — deal with it.