So, I visited Berkeley last night [last Thursday], and it was terrific. The students were engaged, and the police were finally allowed to do their jobs. Antifa stayed away. Sure, there were protesters – lots of them. That’s great! It’s a free country, and they’re free to say whatever stupid nonsense they want to. But overall, this was a big moment for Berkeley, which had been blockaded by violent leftists for nearly a year: a civil discussion involving a dissenting, conservative voice, allowed by the administration and defended by law enforcement.
Even at Berkeley, the First Amendment still lives.
Here are a few things I learned last night.
1. When the police are allowed to do their jobs, Antifa is powerless.
We’ve watched Antifa fight free speech in cities ranging from Portland to Seattle to Sacramento to Dallas to Berkeley. We’ve watched them get violent. But the biggest problem, by far, as been the unwillingness of local authorities to allow the police to do what they need to do. Last night, hundreds of police were brought in to protect our event, at a cost of $600,000. That’s because of Black Bloc and Antifa. But neither held sway, because the police quickly arrested anyone with a weapon or a mask, and prevented violence in the crowd outside. Good. Law and order is a precondition to civil society. It’s just sad so much law enforcement was necessary for a college speech.
2. Many students are infected by the microaggression mentality.
The notion of microaggressions suggests that if I attack your politics, I’m attacking your identity – and that such political attacks are a form of “aggression” equivalent to violence. Many doltish students stood outside and chanted just that.
3. Many on the left are willing to label anyone a white supremacist.
I, needless to say, am not a white supremacist. I devoted several minutes of my speech last night to ripping into white supremacism and the alt-right. I’ve devoted much of the last two years to doing so as well. That didn’t stop Leftish students from posting a banner opposite the building where I was speaking. It read: “We say NO to your white supremacist _______.” How far will some on the Left go in this direction? You see, I’m not really even Jewish. It’s just an enormous ruse. I’ve been undercover for some 33 years. The kippa is just a disguise to throw those wily actual Jews off the scent.
4. Students can handle it.
Yesterday, we had a bunch of people who disagreed with me who attended the lecture. That was great, and I personally thanked them for their attendance. That apparently didn’t stop a few from feeling supremely hurt by things they didn’t even have the stomach to hear. Overall, though, students are just fine. And all the administrative tut-tutting over the sensitivities of snowflakes is generally unnecessary.
5. Conservatism needs to be heard on campus.
The administration didn’t do a great job of ensuring that those who wanted to hear my speech could do so. They heavily restricted the venue, and then prevented those in the standby line from attending. The next step in ensuring free speech is ensuring that events are better handled by the administration so that those who want to hear an opposing view – and there were literally thousands who wanted to come – can do so.
Overall, the event was a great success. All the Leftist insanity merely brought a spotlight to conservatism, and to the necessity for free speech. Thanks so much to the Young America’s Foundation, to the Berkeley College Republicans – and more than anyone, the besieged police officers – who made it possible. This is what America is all about.
About the Author
Ben Shapiro is the voice of The Daily Wire, author of the most popular conservative blog in the world, and one of the most sought after young conservative speakers in America.