Decades ago, Huey Long is claimed to have said that when fascism comes, it will come under the guise of anti-fascism. On Feb. 1, we found out who the real fascists on this campus are, and they are not the Berkeley College Republicans.
Many have taken to the media to state that what happened Wednesday night was not representative of the Berkeley community’s values as a whole. We must disagree. The narrative has largely been that “peaceful protesters” were infiltrated by several dozen “black bloc” anarchists, thereby ascribing innocence to the hundreds of students who cheered as pandemonium unfolded on Sproul Plaza, and who cheered in elation when Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech was called off.
The Berkeley community is guilty by association. Students who exercised their right to free speech by protesting stood idly by as the “black bloc” destroyed their campus and surrounding areas; they stood idly by as Yiannopoulos fans were pepper-sprayed and beaten. No — by and large, the student protesters danced as the campus burned, putting the Roman Emperor Nero to shame.
“Shutting down” Milo Yiannopoulos is not some cute phrase that can bandied about without a second thought — it expressly indicates the use of violence to silence the free speech of others. Let me do what the administrators, faculty and your peers have all failed to do: inform you that you cannot legally “shut down” Milo Yiannopoulos. This is is not civil disobedience, this is not the principled defiance of laws in protest of some unjust arrangement — this is political terrorism. Keep this in mind the next time you decide to use the pen to justify the sword.
As evidenced by the slew of op-eds published by The Daily Californian, the use of violence to obtain power over ideological minorities such as the Berkeley College Republicans is by no means a fringe position here. The day after the chaos, an individual came up to the Berkeley College Republicans tent; smiling, he said it was perfectly acceptable to punch people he suspects of being “white supremacists” or those who support them. If this does not trouble you, then you too are part of the problem.
Let the Berkeley College Republicans also firmly rebut the conspiracy theory repeatedly espoused by Professor Robert Reich on national television, that Milo Yiannopoulos organized the “black bloc” anarchist attack for the sole purpose of giving President Trump an excuse to pull UC Berkeley’s federal funding. Not only is this fanciful claim wholly unsubstantiated and incredibly irresponsible, it is beneath the dignity of an academic and so recognizable a UC Berkeley professor.
Professor Reich’s ludicrous statements constitute an insult to the Berkeley College Republicans, who risked their personal safety to invite Milo Yiannopoulos to campus, and who continue to face harassment and abuse at the hands of the very “anti-fascists” Professor Reich so ardently attempts to absolve of all blame. It would be wise for Professor Reich to apologize and retract his statements on this matter, although that might be too much to hope for.
Groups such as By Any Means Necessary — whose leader recently called for more “militant protests” of the sort seen at Berkeley — labeled their protest a success. We beg to differ. Milo Yiannopoulos will, without qualification, return to Berkeley’s campus, with Alex Jones of InfoWars in tow. The Berkeley College Republicans and conservative students on this campus have not and will never be silenced.
The more riots the black bloc incites, the more support we receive from across the United States in opposition to the fascist tactics of self-styled anti-fascists. The more abuse and harassment we suffer, the more controversial speakers we will invite to campus. We proceed fearlessly because we know we have the president of the United States and the United States Constitution on our side. The Berkeley College Republicans are the new Free Speech Movement. We invite you to join us.
Troy Worden is a member of the Berkeley College Republicans and Pieter Sittler is the internal vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.
A previous version of this op-ed misattributed the quote “The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists” to Winston Churchill. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that Churchill said this quote.
A previous version of this op-ed also incorrectly attributed a direct quote about fascism to Huey Long. In fact, several sources have attributed various quotes of similar sentiment to Long.