Conservative writer Ben Shapiro invited to speak at UC Berkeley in September

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The Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, in collaboration with Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, has invited conservative author and columnist Ben Shapiro to speak on campus September 14.

Shapiro, a controversial right-wing political commentator, is the editor in chief of the Daily Wire, a nationally syndicated columnist and a New York Times best-selling author.

BCR External Vice President Naweed Tahmas said in an emailed statement BCR chose to invite Shapiro because of his ability to “effectively communicate conservative views to students,” citing Shapiro’s “extensive campus speaking history.”

Shapiro’s previous planned addresses at other college campuses have been met with occasional controversy — in February 2016, a speech by Shapiro on diversity at California State University, Los Angeles, erupted in protests, and last November, Shapiro was banned by administrators from speaking at DePaul University.

BCR and YAF also hosted a similar event on campus at UC Berkeley with Ben Shapiro in 2016, which passed without incident.

Tahmas added that this event will test the campus administration and whether it “caves” to what he called the “demands of the violent left.”

“As the nation watches the former home of the Free Speech Movement betray its legacy, the university has an opportunity to reclaim its reputation by standing for the rights of all students, including conservatives, to hear thought-provoking speakers such as Ben Shapiro,” Tahmas said in the statement.

Young America’s Foundation spokesperson Spencer Brown said Shapiro will make a public address — likely on the topic of free speech — and then field questions from attendees.

Brown said he expects the event to be received with “relief and gratitude” by the campus community, adding that Shapiro offers a “viewpoint rarely, if ever, heard at Berkeley.”

Brown said BCR plans to hold the event at 7 p.m. and is requesting from campus administrators a “prominent on-campus” venue that can accommodate 500 people.

“The ball is in Berkeley’s court,” Brown said. “This is a real opportunity for the university to prove its commitment to intellectual diversity and a free exchange of ideas.”

Shapiro’s planned visit follows BCR’s failed attempts to host conservative speakers on campus earlier this year, including Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz and Ann Coulter.

BCR informed the campus of its invitation to Shapiro on July 10 and campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email the administration will work with BCR “to ensure they can host a safe and successful event.”

Mogulof added that UCPD will also begin a security assessment for the event to “offer important security-related recommendations, including guidance for the timing and location of an event.”

We want to state unequivocally that Mr. Shapiro is welcome on the Berkeley campus,” Mogulof said in an email. “We are confident that arrangements can and will be made for Mr. Shapiro … with the exact date and time depending only on the availability of an appropriate venue and the recommendations of law enforcement professionals. We will do everything in our power to ensure that Mr. Shapiro, his hosts, and their guests can safely and successfully exercise their First Amendment rights.”

ASUC Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordova said she supported all student groups’ right to invite guests and speakers at their discretion to campus.

Cordova, however, expressed concern about the intention behind these events, saying that to her “it seems to be a game for some organizations to organize these types of events only in order to spark conflict.”

Cordova said it was hard to project how the Shapiro event will turn out.

“I know communities are divided on these issues — I think there are folks who view the event as a direct attack on their communities. There are other communities who are just tired of having to protest and justify their lives, and are just willing to let the event play out,” Cordova said. “I hope this event goes through without violence and danger being put upon these students.”

Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason said the portrayal of the event as “conservatives fighting for free speech rather than an open, honest conversation” will build pressure around the event, adding that he was concerned BCR leadership was more focused on “sensationalism rather than actual conversation.”

Nason said he hopes Shapiro ultimately is able to come to campus to “prove he has outdated beliefs.”

“Berkeley is not a school that doesn’t pay attention to facts,” Nason said. “And Ben Shapiro is someone that directly spits in the face of facts.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.

A previous version of this article may have implied only Young America’s Foundation hosted a campus address by Ben Shapiro in 2016. In fact, YAF provided funding for the event, while Berkeley College Republicans hosted the event on campus.

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  • Linda Rice

    I would like to ask Nason which of Shapiro’s beliefs he feels are outdated.

  • FreedomFan

    Of all the ideas percolating on college campuses these days, the most dangerous one might be that speech is sometimes violence. We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group. This is the kind of speech that many students today refer to as a form of violence.

    …The idea that speech is violence is so dangerous. It tells the members of a generation already beset by anxiety and depression that the world is a far more violent and threatening place than it really is. It tells them that words, ideas, and speakers can literally k— them. Even worse: At a time of rapidly rising political polarization in America, it helps a small subset of that generation justify political violence.

    Leftists hate the 1st Amendment, which is why all the Democrat senators voted to repeal it in 2014. The Marxists would burn the entire U.S. Constitution and become Venezuela if you let them.

  • KT

    Here we go again. Republicans used to stand for principles like fiscal conservatism and strong families. Now, they just want to promote hate speech, racism, and anger. The party is a front for billionaires, traitors to America in favor of Russia, and hypocritical Evangelical “Christians.” They’ve convinced themselves that they are victims, and in fact they are…victims of closed-mindedness, hatred, intolerance, and selfish greed. I have no respect for the Republican Party, most Evangelical Christians, and the Berkeley College Republicans who promote this trash.

    • FreedomFan

      ^^ Another Democrat Black Lives Matter snowflake who has never even heard Ben Shapiro speak.

      • KT

        Stop using the word “Freedom” and the American Flag to make yourself look like a patriot. People like you don’t support our country’s values and probably are just fine with Russia hacking our elections.

        • FreedomFan

          Unlike Democrats, patriots believe in free speech, free markets and free people. We also honor the American flag, so pound sand, comrade.

          Nobody with a brain believes that the Russians “hacked” the election. They only embarrassed Hillary by guessing Podesta’s password “Password”. Sheer genius, huh?

          • KT

            No one believes Russia hacked the election? How about all of our intelligence agencies? If you honored the flag, you’d be concerned about Russia’s interference. I’m sick of people like you hiding behind the flag as they sell our country and it’s values down the Moskva river.

          • FreedomFan

            “All of our intelligence agencies” don’t have a shred of evidence of this goofy Trump-Russia “collusion”. Only hysterical Dims pretend to believe that.

            But we do know that Hillary sold out the U.S. by taking millions from Russia in exchange letting them take over a Canadian uranium mine. So it’s Dims selling us down the river…as usual.

          • KT

            Look FreedomFan, if we can’t argue using the same facts, than this exercise is pointless. Our intelligence agencies all agree that Russia interfered with our election. Recent events and lots of evidence points to collusion. OPEN YOUR EYES if you love our country because our country is being handed over to Putin and his Russian mob. Don’t wave the flag at me and talk about freedom while you make excuses for Trump and Russia’s interference on his behalf. I don’t give a damn about what Hillary did…she’s not our president. You right-wing freedom lovers get diverted from the real issues by constantly going back to Hillary and her faults. Give it up! She’s not president, and we have a traitor in the White House who is. For God’s sake, use your voice to keep our country independent and our vote meaningful. We can disagree at the ballot box, but let’s at least unify against Russia’s interference in the basis of our democracy–our votes. If you can’t do that, then don’t call yourself a patriot. You’re just a brainwashed, power-hungry, chest-thumping, willfully ignorant pawn.

          • FreedomFan

            Here is proof that no one with a brain is buying your Russia “nothing-burger”:

            Bloomberg Poll: Just 6% Of Americans Say Russia Story Is ‘Important’
            Despite deluge from MSM, nobody cares

          • KT

            Your link just shows that Russia is not the TOP issue that people care about, not that they don’t care. Here’s some data from June, and I’m certain that if you polled people again, you find them even more concerned. Are you a Russian troll or do you just love Putin?

            USA Today Poll, June 15, 2017

            48% of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned that Trump and his campaign may have had inappropriate contacts with Russia. Another 20% said they were moderately concerned, and 30% said they were not very concerned or not at all concerned.
            A majority of Americans (51%) disapproved of Trump’s firing of Comey, while 22% said they approved. Another 24% said they did not approve or disapprove.
            A majority (54%) said they thought leaks related to the investigation were harmful in terms of national security, while 42% said they thought the leaks were good because they gave the public information.

          • FreedomFan

            Get yer lies straight comrade.

            “A few months ago when you were asked what is the biggest geopolitical group facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida. You said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back. Because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”
            -Barry Obama,
            A Marxist President who “reset” relations with his pals in Russia, by pulling the anti-missle shield out of Eastern Europe and allowing Russia to seize control of one of the largest uranium mines in North America.

          • KT

            First it was Hillary you had to drag into this, and now Obama. RUSSIA influenced our elections to get TRUMP elected. Deal with that! If you are the patriot you pretend to be, if you value our flag, if you hold liberty dear, than you should be outraged that we have a president whose been compromised by Russia. Now, I’m done with you. I don’t want to waste any more time with a willfully blind traitor.

          • FreedomFan

            If you want to know what leftists are guilty of, just listen to what they blame the right of doing. Leftists LOVE Bernie Sanders, a communist and Soviet Union fan who even went on his HONEYMOON in the Soviet Union.

            In leftist Hollywood there have been thousands of books, plays and movies about the atrocities committed by Hitler, but nothing about the 100 million innocents butchered by the left’s communist pals just in the 20th century.

            So don’t lecture me about how the Left now is sooo concerned about Russia, Russia, Russia, comrade.

  • FreedomFan

    Good luck in your debate with Ben Shapiro, Mr. Caiden Nason. I hear you will be sitting on the front row to make sure he doesn’t “spit in the fact of facts”. LOL.

    This is a great opportunity for all those uber-smart Berkeley leftists to embarrass Ben Shapiro and all those stupid, stooopid Conservatives.

    That should be a snap, given your vast intellect and quick wit, right? If not you can always wear your masks and burn things like Democrats in the South did in the old days…

  • Killer Marmot

    Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason said the portrayal of the event as “conservatives fighting for free speech rather than an open, honest conversation” will build pressure around the event, adding that he was concerned BCR leadership was more focused on “sensationalism rather than actual conversation.”

    Conversation can only occur when both sides have the right to speak. YAF has the correct priorities.

  • BerkPed

    Does Ben Shapiro actually believe the things he says, or does he consider himself an entertainer?

    • FreedomFan

      Ugh. Southern Poverty Law center = band of moral midgets.

  • BerkPed

    I think there is a big difference between giving a speaker the stage, and giving the speaker one half of a stage.

    When the University offers a controversial speaker with no counterpoint speaker, the community is left to find their own ways of showing their feelings.

    The University is full of excellent debaters who can provide an intelligent counterpoint. Let some of them come together and share the stage.

    • Toblerone

      That’s not how free speech works

    • lspanker

      Go ahead and arrange your own forum. You can always provide one of your Antifa buddies to see if he or she is capable of having a reasoned argument without having the need to hit anyone with a bike lock or a wine bottle…

    • ESPM360

      The left will never go along with you on the idea of sharing the stage. There are far many more speakers from the left who currently speak at UCB and I would add they speak without incidence or without interruption. I do not think the left will want to have more exposure to the right by requiring sharing the stage every time a lefty speaks.

    • Killer Marmot

      Serious question: Do you believe that every progressive speaker should share the stage with a conservative one?

    • Killer Marmot

      When the University offers a controversial speaker with no counterpoint speaker, the community is left to find their own ways of showing their feelings.

      Are you suggesting that conservatives brought on the violence and riots themselves because of their failure to have their invited speakers share the stage with progressive speakers? Again, serious question.

    • Ian Benton

      He obviously shouldn’t be barred from speaking (rather should be encouraged to come), but it would be much more interesting to hear him debate. The only formal debate I’ve seen him in was a “Race in America” debate from two years ago, and the two people on the left were incompetent. Usually they have him on Fox or CNN not to debate, but to make hyper leftist nutjobs look foolish. Would be cool to see him on Intelligence Squared or something of that nature.

      • Rmarciano

        Cnn making leftist look like nutjob? hahahahah. Really?

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      At everyone of his speeches he has a Q&A and asks for the liberals to come up first because he would rather address their counterpoints. Liberals just think he his horrible and wrong because they disagree with his values and principles.

    • FreedomFan

      Yes, because Berkeley ALWAYS invites Conservatives to balance Leftists, who comprise 99% of all invited speakers…

  • elrod

    Let him speak for crying out loud.

  • 1776

    “Berkeley is not a school that doesn’t pay attention to facts,” Nason
    said. “And Ben Shapiro is someone that directly spits in the face of

    Got a good laugh out of that…

    • Arafat

      Caiden Nason, facts don’t care about your feelings.

    • ShadrachSmith

      Ben is awesome. His Q&A sessions are like a lawn mower through weeds. Ben is the best political presenter most students have ever seen.

  • Ian Benton

    I hope the Democrat group shows up and challenges Ben on some of his points during Q&A. While I agree with some of what he talks about, he has a tendency to use debunked or limited research to support certain views. And he’s much more a culture warrior than a policy wonk.

    • ESPM360

      I hope they show up too for Q$A. Ben does his research and can support his point of view. There are hours on youtube to support my claim. Not only does Ben know his position on issues, but Ben could argue the lefts point of view better than most on the left.

    • Rmarciano

      Ben tend to use real peers reviewed studies, those so call debunked you talk about. Most are being trashed by other lesser publications which can’t stand by their own merits. Why nobody has challenged those studies?

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      Watch any of his youtube videos, he only uses sources that are credible, while the left uses the opposite. Oh wait, I forgot I’m talking to a Berkeley student, lol. Just think for yourself bro. You probably read this: “Berkeley is not a school that doesn’t pay attention to facts,” Nason
      said. “And Ben Shapiro is someone that directly spits in the face of
      facts.” and then think oh Ben Shapiro doesn’t even use facts when in fact you haven’t listened to his podcast and/or very little of him on youtube. He dominates liberals using facts in every debate. It honestly couldn’t be any farther form the truth if you live in the real world and not in your fake reality.

      • Ian Benton

        Wow, chill. I’ve never been a Berkeley student, am certainly not a leftist, and have watched many hours of Ben’s speeches and Q&A sessions on YouTube. I agree with him often, but there are certain points where I think he needs to strengthen his argument and really examine what he’s using to support it. One example relates to the claim on the left that police use force in disproportionate numbers against black people. Ben frequently cites a “Harvard study” that supposedly debunks this, saying that police are actually more likely to shoot white people in similar circumstances. The problem is that this is not a Harvard study (rather one carried out for a private nonprofit by a Harvard professor), has not been peer reviewed, has very small sample size, relies on police self-reporting, and also found that in cases of non-lethal use of force, blacks and Hispanics were disproportionately subjected. It also flies in the face of many other studies that show there is some truth to police racial bias in use of force. So I’d encourage you not to to take everything Ben cites as gospel. I personally think the answer to the use of force question is somewhere in the middle, and Ben hints at this when he uses the line “show me the racists and we’ll fight them together.” I also think the BLM narrative is damaging to black youth. But I’d really like to see him challenged on the details of these points because he is vulnerable and there’s an opportunity for a more nuanced discussion.

        • SecludedCompoundTTYS

          I don’t use it as gospel. I like that he talks real and I know his bias so I can disagree with him. I disagree with him on tons of subjects but at least I know what Im getting and we all know he is very smart. I mean the guy thinks hes good at baseball, so I take everything with a grain of salt. It is much more honest than most podcasts.

  • Merlyn Sheldon

    Better bring air conditioners. Don’t want the poor babies to melt at the dangerous offense of “hearing a different opinion.”

    Way to go Berkely.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    Something something violence something something survival something something POC something something the community.