Early this morning President Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from the University of California Berkeley if it “does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view.”
Protests at a scheduled Milo Yiannopoulos appearance last evening spiraled out of control with over 1,000 protesters setting fires, launching fireworks, throwing bricks, and smashing windows.
In a statement, Berkeley said the violence was “instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.”
Indeed, a fortnight ago Chancellor Nicholas Dirks affirmed Yiannopoulos’s right to speak on campus. Unfortunately, his advice about not attending the event if one might be “triggered” by Milo largely went unheeded.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said the media “partially fueled” the protests:
“You have protesters who feel very emboldened,” added Conway, who served as Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign manager. “They’ve got media cameras following them, they give interviews.”
“I don’t even know if they know what they’re protesting. Really, what is it, the free speech? Having someone on your campus who has a dissenting point of view or wants to present an alternative point of view?” …
“In the real world, when these kids grow up and try to find jobs – which they will in the Trump economy – [they’ll see] life doesn’t work that way, folks.”
At The Week, Peter Weber notes that Berkeley received $370 million in federal research grants in 2015-2016.
He also points out: “Free speech is an important subject, but it’s not clear what Trump is saying. The university did ‘allow free speech’ — both the Yiannopoulos speech and the protest of it — and the only violence it ‘practiced’ was police crowd control when things got rowdy.”
Back in October, The Chronicle of Higher Education offered up a couple of ways by which the president could “end” political correctness on campus.
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