Culture

UC Berkeley Alumna: It ‘Is a Violent Act’ to Say Protests Should Be Peaceful

A fire burns during protests on the Berkeley campus, February 1, 2017. (Screengrab via CNN/YouTube)
The former student says anyone who calls for protests to be peaceful is displaying 'idiocy.'

An alumna of the University of California–Berkeley is defending the anarchists who used violence to protest a planned Milo Yiannopoulos speech on campus last week, calling it an “act of violence” to demand that these protests be peaceful. 

Nisa Dang, whose Facebook page identifies her as a current Nevada State Democratic Party field organizer, wrote a piece for the Daily Californian explaining that she was disgusted to see how many liberals took to Facebook after Wednesday’s riots to say that “in order for a protest to be effective, it must also be nonviolent,” because that’s a “flawed, problematic and deeply cowardly line of reasoning.”

That’s right: These people smashed windows, threw rocks at police officers, hurled Molotov cocktails, and caused $100,000 worth of damage, and Dang says that if you’re going to say that was wrong, then you need to “check your privilege” because “asking people to maintain a peaceful dialogue” during these kinds of demonstrations “is a violent act.” 

Yes, you read that right . . . hurling flames into the air is defensible, but asking people to please not throw flames into the air “is a violent act,” and if you disagree, Dang writes, then that is “idiocy.” Why? Well, according to Dang, there were rumors that Yiannopoulos “had plans to name undocumented students” during his speech, so no one has any right to say that it was wrong for people to get preemptively violent. 

“If I know that you are planning to attack me, I’ll do all I can to throw the first punch,” she writes, adding that “police are violent agents of the state.”

One word for you, Dang: Nope. 

Yes — some of the views expressed by some of the people on the alt-right absolutely are disgusting, and there absolutely is a serious need for criminal-justice reform in this country. I won’t deny that. I also won’t deny that I’m privileged, and that, as a white person, I’ll never know what it’s like to live as anything but a white person. But none of that means that I can’t tell people that they probably shouldn’t just start setting s*** on fire , because — and forgive me for being controversial — it absolutely is bad to just start setting s*** on fire.  

The truth is, the kind of thinking that Dang espouses in her piece is harmful . . . especially to the causes that she claims to champion. She might be shocked to hear this, but forcing people to clean up and pay for a huge post-riot mess actually did nothing to advance social justice. Do you know what it did advance? Milo Yiannopoulos. After all, when his opponents decide to literally put lives at risk with violence, he comes out looking like a victim — a now-more-famous victim with a now-larger platform who has gotten to spend the past week taking advantage of the kind of sympathetic publicity that such an inflammatory figure would otherwise have never gotten the right to enjoy. If you want people on your side, then the absolute worst way to do that is to tell people that your side is the side of violence, of destruction, and of no apologies for either. 

Like it or not, public opinion tends to lean toward “throwing fireworks and rocks at people to make a point is bad,” therefore, aligning your cause with those who throw fireworks and rocks at people is going to sway public opinion against you. That’s just how it works, and all of the liberals who tried to distance their movement from this violence were not displaying “idiocy,” as Dang says they were — but I certainly can think of someone who is.

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