Friday, March 10, 2017

Looking for fascism in America? Look left, on campus

Projection is the psychological term for imagining that others possess faults which are actually your own. Case in point: those liberal predictions that after Donald Trump lost the election, violent Trump supporters would attack innocent people, especially members of minority groups. Visions of storm troopers danced in their heads. Vast mobs of white-hooded Ku Klux Klanners would terrify the countryside. Brownshirts and Blackshirts would infest the city streets.
Something like that is happening now — but the violence is coming from leftists, not Trumpists. Take the University of California, Berkeley, [long pause] please. That's where a speech to the Young Republicans by rightist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by a screaming mob on February 1, as this eyewitness account from Power Line's Steven Hayward records. Not only was the speech shut down, but gangs of ski-masked and bandana-wearing protesters roamed the streets just off campus with sledgehammers, smashing ATM machines. In one instance, Hayward reports, a 62-year-old Republican who voted for Hillary Clinton held up a sign reading "1st Amendment Protects All Speech" and, on the obverse side, "Even Milo's" was punched in the nose and dropped to the ground.
Where were the police? Not in a position to help—by design. In this "lethal, horror situation," said University of California Berkeley campus police chief Margo Bennett, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We have to do exactly what we did last night: to show tremendous restraint." They made just one arrest. As for City of Berkeley police, according to the San Francisco Chronicle they came equipped with riot gear, but "as the violence escalated, officers pulled back." Police on a balcony ordered rioters to disperse, but made no move to stop them, supposedly to prevent injury to "innocent protesters and bystanders." City police made no arrests. "Our primary objective with the resources we had was the protection of life."
In other words, don't count on the campus or city police in Berkeley to protect you against violent thugs. Berkeley (which voted 90 percent for Hillary Clinton, 5 percent for Jill Stein and 3 percent for Donald Trump) seems to be taking the same approach to organized masked black-clad thugs that Italian authorities took to Mussolini's Brownshirts and Weimar Republic authorities took to Hitler's Brownshirts. If fascist violence is thriving and unpunished anywhere in America, it's in Berkeley.
It also made an appearance in Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, (73 percent Clinton, 16 percent Trump) when my American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray appeared in response to an invitation from political science Professor Allison Stanger to speak to students Thursday. Here is Murray's account of how he was shouted down by protesters, how in line with previous arrangements he went to speak in another room where his talk could be livestreamed. It too was interrupted by chants and the triggering of fire alarms (which I suspect in Vermont as elsewhere is at least a misdemeanor offense). As they walked out the talk with two security guards. Murray describes what happened next: "I didn't see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison's hair just as someone else shoved her from another direction, damaging muscles, tendons, and fascia in her neck. I was stumbling because of the shoving. If it hadn't been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground. That much is sure. What would have happened after that I don't know, but I do recall thinking that being on the ground was a really bad idea, and I should try really hard to avoid that. Unlike Allison, I wasn't actually hurt at all." The security guards were not able to prevent that, and I gather that in tiny Middlebury, unlike Berkeley, there is no large campus or municipal police force.
Murray praises Professor Stanger and Middlebury administrators and wonders whether they will or will be able to impose penalties, including criminal prosecution, on students or others who behaved unlawfully or in violation of campus code. He notes that in many previous appearances most students responded to protests by asking the protesters to pipe down; that apparently didn't happen, or if it did it didn't work, at Middlebury. He goes on: "That leads me to two critical questions for which I have no empirical answers: What is the percentage of tenured faculty on American campuses who are still unambiguously on the side of free intellectual exchange? What is the percentage of them who are willing to express that position openly? I am confident that the answer to the first question is still far greater than fifty percent. But what about the answer to the second question? My reading of events on campuses over the last few years is that a minority of faculty are cowing a majority in the same way that a minority of students are cowing the majority." He concludes, "What happened last Thursday has the potential to be a disaster for liberal education."
What happened in Berkeley and Middlebury this month is more evidence that liberal college and university campuses have become the part of American society with the lowest tolerance for and protection of free speech. The liberals who have been quaking in fear of Trumpists thugs might want to notice where the real violent thuggery is occurring and which side of the political spectrum is tolerating it. They're guilty of projection.
One final note: the Associated Press ran a story about the response to Murray's speech in Middlebury that twice in its first three paragraphs repeated characterizations of him as a "white nationalist." The Washington Post, to its shame, printed the story unchanged. This is a disgraceful libel, as anyone who knows Murray's work or knows him personally knows very well. The AP writer and the Post editor who passed the story along relied for their second characterization on the Southern Poverty Law Center — a dicey source as Harry Zieve Cohen of The American Interest and Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard make clear. Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron, if he still wishes to claim the mantle of an objective journalist, should find out how this vile slur got into his paper and make an appropriate disclosure and apology.

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