Two events this past week illustrate exactly how illiberal and totalitarian the political left in this country has become in the months since it became clear they hold exactly zero levers of power in Washington, D.C., with the election of President Donald Trump. They don't want to hear what the right has to say, they want them to shut up.
At Middlebury College in Vermont, Author and American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray, was invited to speak on his recent book, "Coming Apart," and the 2016 election. As is common at many so-called "liberal" educational institutions nowadays, the response by many wasn't to listen and learn from someone with whom they disagree.
Instead, protesters first attempted to silence Murray, forcing him to give his talk online-only, streamed from a private studio on campus rather than to a live audience. And then Murray attempted to leave the building, and the protesters showed they weren't satisfied with merely silencing him, they wanted more.
We finished around 6:45 and prepared to leave the building to attend a campus dinner with a dozen students and some faculty members. Allison (Stanger, professor of political science), Bill (Burger, VP of Communications at Middlebury), and I (by this point I saw both of them as dear friends and still do) were accompanied by two large and capable security guards. (As I write, I still don’t have their names. My gratitude to them is profound.) We walked out the door and into the middle of a mob. I have read that they numbered about twenty. It seemed like a lot more than that to me, maybe fifty or so, but I was not in a position to get a good count. I registered that several of them were wearing ski masks. That was disquieting.
I had expected that they would shout expletives at us but no more. So I was nonplussed when I realized that a big man with a sign was standing right in front of us and wasn’t going to let us pass. I instinctively thought, we’ll go around him. But that wasn’t possible. We’d just get blocked by the others who were joining him. So we walked straight into him, one of our security guys pushed him aside, and that’s the way it went from then on: Allison and Bill each holding one of my elbows, the three of us plowing ahead, the security guys clearing our way, and lots of pushing and shoving from all sides.
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 three of us got to the car, with the security guards keeping protesters away while we closed and locked the doors. Then we found that the evening wasn’t over. So many protesters surrounded the car, banging on the sides and the windows and rocking the car, climbing onto the hood, that Bill had to inch forward lest he run over them. At the time, I wouldn’t have objected. Bill must have a longer time horizon than I do.
That this shouldn't be happening on American university campuses—let alone this being the "new normal"—should go without saying. Too many professors and their special snowflake students have come to the conclusion that they should never have to face an idea that challenges their preconceived worldview.
For them, the only response is to silence the un-good-think and, where possible, physically attack their foe. Does anyone doubt that had Murray fallen to the ground that he would've received a beatdown that would've left him hospitalized—or worse?
Confronted with all of this attention to their fascist tendencies, what is Middlebury's response? Do they vow to rededicate themselves to academic and intellectual freedom? The idea that the answer to "bad" speech is more speech?
— Samantha Harris (@SamatFIRE) March 6, 2017
Their answer is reinforce their left-wing bubble. Shut up, they said. The difference between these college students and a four-year-old is the extent of their vocabulary and not much else.
On Saturday, Trump supporters marched in Berkeley and the result there is about what you would suspect given the way the home of "free speech" responded to an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos last month.
The fighting Saturday started even before the event began, with people throwing punches, swinging signs and tossing smoke bombs. Hundreds of people filled the park, with anarchists and counterdemonstrators far outnumbering what rally sponsors estimated were 60 to 75 Trump supporters.
By 3 p.m., the self-proclaimed anarchists were dominating the crowd. Dressed all in black and wearing cloth bandannas over their faces, they stopped traffic as they marched from the park through downtown with the smaller mix of Trump supporters and counterprotesters. In the park, people opposed to Trump threw eggs and burned both American flags and the red “Make America Great Again” Trump campaign hats.
You can see a lot of photos of the event compiled by Twitchy.com here. Needless to say that most of the wounded were Trump supporters at the hands of the "tolerant" left.
— Gibson Chu (@thegibsonchu) March 4, 2017
It may be a good thing that 2nd Amendment rights are construed in the Bay Area so as to prohibit the bearing of arms, because there would likely be a lot of dead and wounded "anti-fa" hooligans if they attacked armed Americans in that fashion.
The failure of the police in Berkeley is nothing new. They failed to stop rioting that resulted in more than $100,000 worth of damage to the campus in the wake of the aborted Milo speech. This past weekend, the police failed again in their duty to protect a political minority peacefully demonstrating in their city.
Such repeated failures beg the question: What level of incompetence does it take to get fired as the Berkeley police chief?
Whether it's Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopolous, or just a no-name conservative, the political left is no longer interested in free speech. They tried to legislate limits on political speech that were struck down by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision. Now they seek to impose their totalitarian impulses on college campuses.
Free speech? No. Shut up, they said.