The once-prestigious University of California at Berkeley has managed to distinguish itself from all other universities where political intimidation, vandalism and intolerance of ideas that stray from the politically correct orthodoxy have become a way of life. The Brownshirt tactics of the students go largely unpunished by the administration and are even encouraged by some of the faculty members.
Two separate incidents during the past academic year illustrate that the former seat of the '60s Free Speech Movement is now on the cutting edge of censorship. A three-quarter page ad appearing in the pages of the school's paper, the Daily Californian, was the focus of a political firestorm last week.
The ad was paid for by David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture. It was titled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too." It outlined Horowitz's common-sense arguments against the intellectually vacant idea of paying African Americans slavery reparations.
The 10 reasons include the fact that no single group is responsible for the crime of slavery (Africans participated in the slave trade as well as Europeans). And while only a tiny majority of whites owned slaves, hundreds of thousands gave their lives for their freedom. See www.frontpagemag.com for the complete article.
Following publication of the ad, a group of 20 to 30 students allegedly stormed the office of the newspaper and demanded a full retraction and apology. They received it.
Editor in Chief Daniel Hernandez spinelessly acquiesced to the demands. Without citing a single incorrect fact, he said the ad violated editorial board policies and offered to donate the ad revenue to an African American campus group.
The Horowitz incident is the latest in a long line of deplorable episodes at the university. Arguably, it was Berkeley that began the now common practice of verbally disrupting conservative speakers on campus. UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick was shouted down at a speaking event there in the early 1980s.
Even in the infancy of political correctness, some Berkeley faculty members lauded this behavior. They made the undeniably Marxist argument that free speech cannot be extended to those deemed "oppressors" or "enemies of the people." The home of the Free Speech Movement had become the home of "Free Speech for Me, but not for Thee."
One of the most heinous incidents of campus censorship occurred last semester when Accuracy in Academia Executive Director Dan Flynn spoke at Berkeley. Flynn is the author of Cop Killer: How Mumia Abu-Jamal Conned Millions into Believing He Was Framed. Abu-Jamal is the former Black Panther who murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner execution style in 1981.
During Flynn's speech, he was completely drowned out by shouts of "White racist MFer!" and "Nazi!" As campus police watched and did nothing, he was interrupted constantly, mooned, and had his microphone cord torn from the wall.
Some of the Mumia supporters have deluded themselves into believing that Jamal is innocent despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt. Others simply believe he is a hero for killing a cop. (One student allegedly wore a T-shirt that read, "I killed Daniel Faulkner"). See www.danielfaulkner.com for more information.
The most disgusting display of campus fascism came when the leftist loonies stole copies of Flynn's book and burned them publicly. The books went up in flames as the demonstrators held signs that read, "Fight Racist Censorship." Years of indoctrination in this campus gulag apparently blinds the sense of irony.
This is not a mere whiff of fascism. The act of book burning is a brilliant, blinking, Vegas-style neon sign that reads, "These ideas will not be tolerated and we will stop at nothing to prevent you from reading them."
How can Left maintain its monopoly on campus speech? The free and open exchange of opposing viewpoints of rational people will always triumph over coercion and intimidation.