When UC Berkeley administrators caused the cancelation of Ann Coulter’s lecture amid threats of violence, many claimed that this was the end of free speech on our nation’s college campuses. While this event represents a tragic low for First Amendment rights, the international outrage surrounding this incident has ignited a Second Free Speech Movement on America’s college campuses.
This time, it’s led by conservatives.
While academia has been notoriously liberal for decades, the ivory tower has recently taken a further leftward turn as a result of the social justice culture. Unlike liberals such as Mario Savio, who led the campus free speech movement in the 1960s, today’s liberal students and administrators work to shut down any idea they disagree with under the guise of “tolerance.”
As a campus activist who brought Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, and other speakers to my school, I have experienced the left’s hostility first hand, both from students, and from UC Irvine’s administrators.
UC Irvine administrators did everything in their power to prevent us from bringing Milo to campus and only consented after dozens of riot police from multiple departments agreed to surround the school. After the event drew over 1,000 people for a mere 200 seats, UC Irvine administrators banned the College Republicans from meeting on campus and only rescinded our punishment after massive public outrage. The students who violently tried to shut down our event went unpunished.
If schools like UC Berkeley would rather let masked rioters loot the campus and set it on fire than allow a mainstream conservative like Ann Coulter speak on campus, how can they expect the American public to believe them when they claim to stand up for free speech?
People across the political spectrum are rightly outraged at images of UC Berkeley students burning their own school to the ground, simply because they couldn’t tolerate an opposing viewpoint. Even hard-left progressives like Bernie Sanders and Bill Maher have defended free speech rights on campus, despite strong opposition from millions of their own supporters.
While it’s appalling to see rioters destroy our nation’s college campuses, these extreme actions have shown our country what the campus Left truly stands for. Universities have become a bully pulpit for leftists to spew their ideology to impressionable students on the taxpayer’s dime.
The massive media attention surrounding this incident has been the catalyst for a Second Free Speech Movement across America’s college campuses, led by young conservatives who believe that universities should once again value the free exchange of ideas. These brave activists have started the new free speech movement on the steps of Berkeley’s Sproul Hall, just as Mario Savio did in the 1960s.
With support from conservatives across the country, we can resurrect free expression in higher education. It’s time to stand up and put an end to the silencing of conservative voices on campus.