Defiant conservatives invite Coulter to Berkeley after riots
Ann Coulter plans to brave the “anti-fascists” who trashed campus earlier this year to deliver a talk on illegal immigration at the University of California, Berkeley.
Coulter’s speech, sponsored by Young America’s Foundation and hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans, will be the first major conservative event on campus since leftist vandals caused over $100,000 in damage to the campus in reaction to a planned appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos. Protesters set multiple fires, broke bank windows, graffitied ‘Fuck Trump,’ and attacked event attendees while clashing with police, but only one arrest was made.
“Coulter's visit is a crucial second test of whether Berkeley really is the ‘Home of the Free Speech Movement.’"
Following the riot, conservative students have been repeatedly targeted and harassed by unidentified groups for their political views, with one group even threatening to reveal the personal information of all event attendees.
College Republicans members, however, allege that the university administration has done little to stop the antagonism, and say they invited Coulter in hopes of engaging their classmates in an actual conversation about a topic that has proven particularly divisive.
“We have invited Ms. Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley because she has been one of the most vocal critics of illegal immigration in all its manifestations and was one of the earliest supporters of President Trump, from when he initially announced his candidacy down to the present day,” the club explained in a statement to Campus Reform. “The Berkeley community has shown itself to be hostile to both of these stances; therefore Ms. Coulter is the perfect individual to engage in a spirited debate on topics such as President Trump's travel ban and sanctuary campuses.”
Coulter, a best-selling author who advised the Trump campaign on illegal immigration, is expected to draw a large crowd of supporters and protesters.
“I hear they're nice people at Berkeley and expect a pleasant event and stimulating exchange of ideas," Coulter told The Washington Examiner.
While the administration affirmed that the College Republicans have the right to invite Coulter, or any other speaker, to campus, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs Dan Mogulof told Campus Reform that this should in no way be construed as an endorsement by the university.
“Like all student groups the BCR (Berkeley College Republicans) has the right and ability to invite speakers of its choosing to campus,” Mogulof explained. “In that context, the administration wishes to make clear that an invitation of this sort in no way suggests our endorsement of a particular point of view, and we will continue to affirm our commitment to the values of diversity, equality, and tolerance that underlie the greatness of Berkeley and, indeed, of our nation.”
Naweed Tahmas, a member of the Berkeley CR’s who organized the Yiannopoulos event, told Campus Reform that he views Coulter’s speech as an opportunity for the school community to redeem its reputation, as well as for students to gain exposure to some of the ideas that they were prevented from hearing when Yiannopoulos was driven from campus.
“These topics are especially relevant in light of the fact that Milo Yiannopoulos, who was slated to speak on these issues at UC Berkeley in February, was unable to do so because of violent riots perpetrated by students, anarchists, and so-called ‘antifascists,’” he observed. “Ms. Coulter's visit is a crucial second test of whether or not Berkeley really is the ‘Home of the Free Speech Movement.’"
The event is also being co-sponsored by "BridgeCal," which describes itself as "a nonpartisan political organization working to fix the political divide by fostering an environment of free and open discourse," and which is contributing $3,000 toward Coulter's $20,000 speaking fee.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @RepublicanPeter