The forces that imperil the First Amendment on college campuses are not growing weaker in the face of opposition. If anything, they are broadening their focus, going beyond protests of conservative speakers to engaging in disruptive attacks on administrators, professors, and even fellow students.
Just this week, a College Republican meeting at the University of California, Santa Cruz was hijacked by a group of protestors who were intentionally seeking to deny the group their rights under the First Amendment.
“White Supremacist, fascist sympathizing College Republicans are having a meeting at McHenry library, room 0332,” activist Haik Adman posted on the official UCSC Student Facebook group. “Everybody be aware of this violent racist activity happening everyday on this campus!” he wrote, adding that “We need a movement of people on this campus that rejects the ‘right of assembly,’ or ‘right of free speech’ for white supremacists and fascists.”
Campus Reform’s Celine Ryan reports on what happened next:
Heeding Adamian’s call, student activists disrupted the meeting by banging open the door to the meeting space and shouting accusations that the members were “fascists,” “racists,” and “white supremacists.”
According to the UCSC College Republicans, their offers to discuss the concerns of the protesters were met with exclamations that “dialogue is violence,” after which the protesters called the club’s presence a “threat to the library” and demanded that the CR members vacate the space immediately.
The protesters even reportedly berated library staff members when they refused to shut down the pre-approved meeting. One staff member eventually asked the CR members to leave in order to end the disturbance, but meeting attendees chose to respond by sitting quietly and refusing to leave the area.
The disruption went on for nearly two hours, culminating with one of the protestors running through the library screaming that there were “Nazi’s downstairs.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that College Republicans have been targeted on campus this semester. The Amherst College Republicans reported that in the middle of their first meeting “several students proceeded to catch our attention by taping these flyers stating: “THIS IS OUR CAMPUS, NOT THE KLAN’s” to the windows of our meeting space.”
These sorts of reactions go well beyond the tendencies toward political correctness that have dominated campus debates in recent years. Calls for “safe spaces” are now being militantly enforced by mobs of students, who serve as judge and jury as to what points of view are considered “safe” on campus. “Trigger warnings” are becoming a thing of the past as the PC police go further upstream, preventing conservative speakers from even setting foot on campus with threats of violence and protest. And the concept of microaggressions are passé, instead replaced by the much more dangerous belief that speech can actually be violence.
Each of these gradual erosions of free speech pales in comparison to the despicable equation of Republicans and white supremacists or Nazis. These are vile ideologies that have led to the deaths of countless human beings across history. They have no place in the marketplace of ideas and they should be condemned at every opportunity.
But merely failing to adhere to liberal thought doesn’t make Republicans either racist or Nazis. As Katherine Timpf argued in National Review, “Regardless of your intentions, you’re diminishing the seriousness of the issue when you run around using “WHITE SUPREMACIST” to describe anyone who happens to believe in the power or private solutions and individual liberty to solve problems. You’re also shutting down conversations about the help that those solutions can provide.”
Unfortunately, shutting down those conversations appears to be a feature, not a bug, of liberals’ campus efforts. It has become de rigueur for the left to hand out vile labels because it stops the conversation in its tracks. There can be no honest policy debate when one side is force to spend every ounce of energy proving its moral equivalency. But far from demonstrating that Republicans are weak, the fact that Democrats are forced to resort to vile dishonestly to achieve their aims suggests that it’s they who are ideologically bankrupt.