When white supremacists flood the city, Berkeley should not back down

CITY AFFAIRS: Ahead of alt-right rally, Christ fails to acknowledge the way white supremacists co-opt "free speech," and the city unfairly advises people to "stay away."

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Kelly Baird/Staff

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Torch-bearing white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, and in anticipation, University of Virginia’s president advised the campus community to hole up and avoid the neo-Nazis at the risk of escalating violence. That didn’t work out.

Now, the city of Berkeley, too, says “stay away” from the alt-right rally scheduled for Aug. 27. But Berkeley should not tell community members to back down, not when the people flooding the city in hordes threaten the very existence of many people here.

Berkeley — the city and campus — is a magnet for white supremacists who exploit its history and clickbait name for their hateful fight. Community members didn’t want to watch Martin Luther King Jr. Way turn into a war zone on March 4,  April 15 or April 27, and they shouldn’t have to this weekend, either.

But recent events show how a bloodbath can be avoided, and it’s not by staying away. In Boston, one week after Charlottesville, tens of thousands of counterprotesters drowned out the planned alt-right rally (dubbed a “free speech” protest, which nobody’s buying). And by 1 p.m., rally attendees had slunk away before they even made the speeches they had planned, and the Washington Post reported that no one was injured.

While this type of showing might be what UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ was talking about when she urged new students to counter hate speech with “more speech” at convocation, she did herself and the campus no favors by dubbing this a “free speech year.” Speakers with alt-right followers like Milo Yiannopoulos often use “free speech” as their call to arms. In fact, Yiannopoulos plans to return to Berkeley in late September and camp out on Sproul Plaza for four days, an event he is calling “Free Speech Week.”

Just three days after the racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Christ said inner resilience is “the surest form of safe space.” Inner resilience? What about the continuing physical threat behind white supremacist ideology, clearly evidenced by the events at Charlottesville?

This is possibly the worst thing a college president could say in the current context. Safe spaces do not impede the full realization of free discourse. Safe spaces exist to acknowledge a history of systemic oppression.

As Berkeley prepares itself for this weekend’s rally, it is all the more important that the chancellor acknowledge the way hate groups use “free speech” as a euphemism for harmful ideology and action, and that the city of Berkeley provide support for those who don’t have the privilege of turning a blind eye.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

Clarification(s):
Some readers of a previous version of this editorial might have understood it to imply that Milo Yiannopoulos is a white supremacist. The Editors did not intend to convey this implication and have removed the reference.

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  • Ian Benton

    Hey guys remember when white supremacists flooded Berkeley last weekend? Oh wait that never happened. Once again the Left gets their knickers in a twist over absolutely nothing.

  • FreedomFan

    The Daily Cal is a co-conspirator in the bloody violence perpetrated against innocent victims.
    Even your pals Nancy Pelosi and the LA Times denounced the recent example of antifa mayhem and depravity.
    Nice work, editors.

  • Ron Jacobs
  • The problem is that Berkeley accuses EVERYONE of being a bigot, similar to how Red Guards labelled everyone who protested Mao as being a Capitalist Roader.

    Free speech is the domain of the liberal. As soon as you suppress free speech, you’re as fascist as the bigots you are trying to shut down.

    • Jorge Carolinos

      ON THE CORRECT HANDLING OF CONTRADICTIONS AMONG THE PEOPLE

      Our state is a people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class
      and based on the worker-peasant alliance. What is this dictatorship for?
      Its first function is internal, namely, to suppress the reactionary classes
      and elements and those exploiters who resist the socialist revolution, to
      suppress those who try to wreck our socialist construction, or in other words,
      to resolve the contradictions between ourselves and the internal enemy. For
      instance, to arrest, try and sentence certain counter-revolutionaries, and
      to deprive landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists of their right to vote and
      their freedom of speech for a certain period of time — all this comes within
      the scope of our dictatorship.

  • RPDC

    The largest Neo-Nazi group in the US has 400 members. The KKK has fewer than 10,000 members nationwide. What these people desperately want and need is publicity and validation. Treating them like a genuine threat, and physically attacking them, gives them both publicity and validation.

    In contrast, what they fear is being laughed at, as being insecure is what drives people to those groups. Thus, if you want to fight them, come up with something like the ‘involuntary anti-Nazi walkathon” in Germany and expose them for the joke that they are. https://thinkprogress.org/german-town-pranked-neo-nazis/

    • David MySky

      Hitler started with only 54.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    Yay, let’s have a big fight in the streets. That will solve everything.

  • roccolore

    Liberals have no problem with black supremacists, Mexican supremacists, and Muslim supremacists.

  • zhemao

    You know who else says you should stay away from White supremacist gatherings? The Southern Poverty Law Center.

    https://www.splcenter.org/20170810/alt-right-campus-what-students-need-know#what-to-say-and-do

    Holding a protest nearby as a show of force and solidarity is all well and good. Physically confronting the alt-right demonstrators does not.

  • ShadrachSmith

    antifa = Red Guard

    • zzz

      I would love to see some Berkeley leftists go through some antifa directed self criticism.

  • Ian Benton

    tl;dr: take the bait

    • Nunya Beeswax

      An accurate distillation.

  • StanFromSomewhere

    Another nonsensical op-ed by the Editorial Board, which peddles the myth that anyone who opposes the tactics of Antifa must be some type of racist or white supremacist. How embarrassing to us taxpayers and alumni who financially support these children.

    • CSears

      I doubt that you pay much in the way of taxes.

      • lspanker

        So do you file the 540A or the 540EZ, buckaroo?

        • CSears

          Yawn. Did you come here via Daily Stormer?

          • lspanker

            You’re 0 for 2 here, Princess. Cal Alum, Bay Area native, been posting here for a few years now. Care to make any more stupid assumptions to mask your inability to engage in an intelligent argument?

          • CSears

            I have no particular need to argue with you, cupcake, you have said nothing of interest. Still, y’all seem to be quite upset that I called Herr Stan on his taxes. So be it.

          • lspanker

            Look who’s channeling Putin’s pigeon…

          • CSears

            Just so you know, because I do, an ellipses at the end of a sentence takes a space and four periods. Your sentence didn’t make any sense but then its poor mechanics didn’t help any.

      • Lucky Luke

        It’s a great come back and all … but it’s just your own speculation, not based on facts.

        • CSears

          You need to look up in the dictionary the difference between speculation and doubt. I said that I doubt that Stan pays much in the way of taxes. You said that I speculated. Nope. Wanna try again or don’t you feel lucky?

          • Lucky Luke

            Speculate:
            talk over conjecturally, or review in an idle or casual way and with an element of *doubt* or without sufficient reason to reach a conclusion.

            How about you explain how it is that what you doubt about someone’s taxes is a proper response for the argument they made. Fie if you don’t agree with Stan’s comment, can you counter what was said with anything cogent and relevant?

            Don’t be afraid of your ability to make a valid counter argument. What you did there was not it.

            White supremacy is wrong. You don’t get any standing or recognition by advocating for violence, mayhem, and destruction. When you go down that path, you become a terrorist for your ideology.

          • CSears

            Oh my. I’m not sure where you got your definition but it sure wasn’t Oxford. I actually use speculate in a professional setting (branch prediction) and I sure wouldn’t use your definition. Oxford:

            Form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.

            Basically, you misquoted me and then disagreed with that. If you want to disagree with what I say, fine, but at least disagree with my words and not yours.

            As to ‘validity’, it was Herr Stan who brought taxes into the discussion (“How embarrassing to us taxpayers”). He opened that door. He thought taxes were relevant to a discussion about an OpEd on white supremacy. That should be enough since it was his choice.

            Now if you wish to request a valid counter argument, please ask it of Herr Stan and not of me since I’m not making a counter argument at all. If you do, you may wish to re-read Herr Stan’s words and then ask if it is a valid argument to begin with. Seems pretty Daily Stormer to me.

          • Lucky Luke

            Instead of casting doubt on someone’s taxes, or splitting hairs about what you mean by “doubt” why not tell us what you think about antifa’s tactics? Are you okay with violence and destruction towards anyone who is not an antifa believer?

            You seem to have a binary worldview. Someone is either a daily stormer type or antifa. And virtually a very strict threshold for who makes it into the antifa pile.

            I don’t know Stan and can’t claim to know anything about stan’s taxes but his comment came across to me as one made by an adult who is probably equally repused by the alt right and by antifa. Probably someone who lives in the real world and has to actually solve real problems.

          • CSears

            It’s not splitting hairs. When you quote someone, quote them correctly. Period. Full stop.

            Herr Stan gets a few things wrong. The Daily Cal is independent of the University; it isn’t even on campus. It licenses the name from the Regents. It is mostly ad funded with $2/yr (?) collected from student fees. I wouldn’t call his complaints either accurate or, your word, adult. (Dirty secret: it isn’t that widely read. Berkeley is like hella hard and students here don’t have much free time. The grad seminar I sat in on today had 30 pages of reading before we walked in the door.)

            You may think what you wish. I think Herr Stan is a Daily Stormer type and I doubt he pays much in the way of taxes.

          • Lucky Luke

            It is irrelevant how you label me or anyone else politically. Noone else cares. Just you. Stop defining other people hoping that will somehow define you.

            You have the need to sprinkle “Herr” and “daily stormer type” to create fictitious monsters in your mind. That’s all on you.

            You are willing to bloviate about taxes, semantics, the structure of the daily Cal, how hard Cal is, … yet not one word about what you think of antifa, or violent opposition.

            Deflect much?

          • CSears

            Thank you for telling me how other people think (No one else cares). You have amazing mental capacities, especially for someone who gets up so early or so elsewhere.

            I wasn’t deflecting but Herr Stan was. He didn’t take on the content of the OpEd but instead somehow brought taxes into it. If you have a problem with that then you need to raise it with your colleague Herr Stan.

            Now unlike you, I live here. I went to school here and I followed the protests closely. I even drove by one because, again I live here, and needed to go up on campus that Sunday. Nothing was happening then, a lot of standing around, although later there was some pushing and shoving.

            I draw a distinction between AntiFa and the Black Ban crowd, a bunch of either anarchists or professional provocateurs. We had them during Occupy and found that some were police:

            http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Undercover-cops-outed-attacked-at-Oakland-5951011.php

            Your friends the Fascists definitely don’t come from Berkeley. Kyle Chapman comes from Daly City. Some from Antioch, one from Huntington Beach. You’ll be sad to know that Kyle will be going to prison for awhile.

            http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/04/17/berkeley-police-release-names-of-people-arrested-at-trump-protests/

          • lspanker

            Now unlike you, I live here. I went to school here

            What a coincincence. So did I.

          • Lucky Luke

            I think those 30 pages got to you. Kids cover their ears and name-call, which is cute at that age. At your level, not so much.

            Take a course in reasoning. It’s common in Eng to go deep into an area and miss out on life-skills courses like that.

          • CSears

            Those 30 pages did get to me.

          • lspanker

            I think Herr Stan is a Daily Stormer type

            And I think you’re an idiot. What tells me that I have more evidence to support my position than you do for yours?

          • lspanker

            As to ‘validity’, it was Herr Stan who brought taxes into the discussion (“How embarrassing to us taxpayers”). He opened that door. He thought taxes were relevant to a discussion about an OpEd on white supremacy.

            “White Supremacy” is a red herring brought up by the same Editorial Board that has been making excuses for Antifa violence for about six months now.

  • Mary L Davenport

    The police need to do their job and separate the opposing groups of demonstrators. The police should NOT stand down and allow violence to occur. Not like before in Berkeley. But even better EVERYONE should stay away. The number of true white supremacists is likely to be insignificant. Cal editorialists encouraging Antifa to show up are making a stupid recommendation.

  • You really should do research on these people before writing about them. Milo has won lawsuits against people who call him a white supremacist. He mostly talks about gender, not race. It’s bad journalism to casually draw equivalences of this sort.

    • Killer Marmot

      People who levy the charge of bigot gratuitously to further their political aims are the lowest of the low. We denounce Joseph McCarthy, and for good reason. The editorial board is indulging in the same tactics, and they should be ashamed.

    • CSears

      I couldn’t find any lawsuits against people who claim MY is a white supremacist. Actually, I couldn’t find any lawsuits that MY has won.

  • iamdink

    What are you whining about? You have a mayor who actively encourages confrontation by labeling any conservative as a racist bigot?

    • Ron Jacobs

      if the shoe fits, wear it

      • lspanker

        It doesn’t fit, and it’s a childish comment to make.

      • iamdink

        tell that to the left wing of America up in arms that a president would call out Antifa and other violent groups.

  • Man with Axe

    If various alt-right or white supremacist groups march in Berkeley, do you recommend that students block their way? Because that seems to me to be a guaranteed way of fomenting violence.

  • Killer Marmot

    If there is violence during this demonstration, it will not likely be due solely to the alt-right, but rather due to a clash between them and an equally odious group, the Antifa.

    So I must ask — are the editors recommending that the Antifa show up?

    • Simi S.

      Baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”

    • John-Paul de Veer

      Antifa actually lives in Berkeley, white nationalists do not. The last time they came to demonstrate they beat up random people who had nothing to do with either side. Violent threats on a community should not be treated as a first amendment right. The city and university should withhold permits out of concern for public safety.

      • Lucky Luke

        Factually wrong, nearly all of this. Look up where Goldilocks lives, and let’s stop pretending she was a victim because there is clear footage showing her brandishing an empty glass bottle and hoping to find a target that wouldn’t fight back.

        No faction or ideology owns Berkeley. There is no constitutional protection for a community for oppossing or odious views. Anyone within the US has a constitutional right to protest any wacky f’ed up idea they like. I personally would like neither side to be allowed to assemble or protest in Berkeley but even if we had willing local leadership it would all be unconstitutional.

        Antifa’s problem? People like me. I hate their sactimonious and infantile ideology and tactics as much as I hate their equally infantile opponents and their bankrupt, bigoted ideology. They are all spoiled enough to live in a utopia at everyone else’s expense. They deserve each other and I wish they’d find some other place to duke it out.

        • CSears

          Antifa’s problem? Yes, people like you.

          • Killer Marmot

            And people like me, who recognize the Antifa as thugs whose crimes are dressed in a fig leaf of self righteousness.

          • zzz

            And people like me who actially have punched on skinheads and find antifa baby behavior terrible.

          • Lucky Luke

            Opposing white-supremacists by subscribing to antifa’s ideology is for the lazy. If it were that easy we would have done it a long time ago.

            It’s equally lazy to label anyone who doesn’t agree with your beloved terror group a white-supremacis

          • lspanker

            Luke’s not the problem, people like you are.

          • Nunya Beeswax

            Yeah, what’s wrong with this joker? Why doesn’t he just line up behind his leaders and betters?!

      • spidershovel

        Antifa is straight up fascist and if you are enjoying your Trump – keep pushing this lie (and you know it is) that Antifa is somehow helpful with ANYTHING.

      • Christoverre Kohler

        So place of residence is being invoked in regards to … what, exactly?

        It appears that hostile, violent street mobs have manifestly disrupted and prevented actual exercise of First Amendment Rights, pre-empting any such thing and this is expressly advocated.

        Everyone else is simply told by self-declared Protectors what their targeted proclaimed adversaries “really” mean by what they say and do, what they “would” do if allowed their Constitutional Rights freely, and that we all must just take their word for all this, trust them completely and allow even violent mob vigilantism.

        Because… Because… uh, that’s somehow “better” than… than… Something?