February 10, 2017
During the fall campaign, supporters of Hillary Clinton charged that there would be violence in the streets after the election. They were right, but it’s not the violence they had in mind. They thought that angry Donald Trump supporters would riot, assault people they thought were Clinton supporters or Muslims or immigrants. But we haven’t seen much of that, and not just because Trump won the election; it turns out that several highly publicized reports of post-election attacks on Muslims by apparent Trump supporters were hoaxes, without a grain of truth (including this one).
But there’s been plenty of violence coming from the anti-Trump left side of the political spectrum. The most shocking violence came on Feb. 1 at and near the campus oft the University of California at Berkeley, where 150 masked demonstrators destroyed an estimated $100,000 of property, assaulted individuals and caused the cancellation of a speech by the gay conservative provocateur and Breitbart writer Milo Yiannapoulous — while the Berkeley police cowered inside a building, a procedure the University of California Police Department director lamely defended. She noted that complaints came from outside the East Bay area, but that the locals — an overwhelmingly left-wing constituency — seemed content with the police non-performance.
What the police failed to confront was an organized riot involving an estimated 150 or more black-masked people armed with bricks, sledgehammers, smoke bombs, fireworks and pepper spray. The rioters did additional damage to private property adjacent to the campus; those sledgehammers come in handy if you are out to smash ATM machines. Alleged organizers, including a Berkeley law school graduate, expressed satisfaction with the results, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are happy with the results. We were able to meet Mr. Yiannapoulos’ fascist message with massive resistance.” In other words, freedom of speech is not to be allowed; violence to shut down free speech is to be applauded.
One organization claiming credit for the violence is called By Any Means Necessary; one spokesman, Berkeley middle school teacher Yvette Felarca, called the riot “a stunning achievement.” As she told KTVU, “I was there, and there were thousands of people out there who were united. It was a mass protest, it was a militant protest, and everyone was there to shut him down. And so — whatever it was going to take to do that, we were all there with a united cause, and we were stunningly successful.”
As Glenn Reynolds of instapundit.com, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, suggests, this organized violence violates federal civil rights statutes, which authorize suits for money damages from conspirators to deprive others of their civil rights. And don’t think it was only property that suffered. Here’s an account from the indefatigable John Leo of how a woman and her husband with tickets to the Yiannapoulos event were beaten up by black-masked thugs:
Riot leaders like those quoted above justify their violence as a response to fascism. But if there is anything that looks like fascism in America today, it’s what happened on the campus and in the streets of Berkeley, right down to the dark uniforms of the thugs.
The response of liberal politicians? So far as I know, there has been almost none. At the Powerline blog John Hinderaker links to a Grabien video showing Democratic politicians and celebrities making statements that some may take as endorsements of violence, such as Sen. Tim Kaine’s urging followers to “fight in the streets.” I suspect he would claim that he was speaking metaphorically and only urging peaceful protest. But it would be nice if he could find time to condemn the violence we have seen at Berkeley — and which is increasingly unsurprising on our college and university campuses, which have become the part of our society most hostile to free speech.
Perhaps I have missed some statements by liberal politicians or entertainers denouncing Berkeley-style violence; I would be grateful to readers who could pass along any examples. But I fear they will be hard to come by.