Culture

UC Faculty Members Shamefully Justify the Berkeley Riots

Anti–free-speech faculty at the University of California at Berkeley shared their thoughts via e-mail after the anti–Milo Yiannopoulos riot on February 1. Their messages perfectly reveal the mindset of entitled left-wing privilege.

Katrin Wehrheim, associate professor of mathematics, thanks everyone “for coming out — in person or spirit!” then reports on the progress of the rioters and protesters from the Berkeley campus to the city streets: “A mostly cheerful and peaceful crowd moved down Telegraph . . . yes, some trash cans were tipped out . . . and, yes, some Bloc members did attack large corporation buildings.” Translation: Entire street fronts of the Bank of America and Wells Fargo were destroyed, ATMs annihilated, and the contents of a Starbucks store trashed, among other assaults on other people’s livelihoods. But, hey! Let’s keep things in perspective! “The image of the night to me,” Wehrheim goes on to explain, “is groups of students cleaning up after them.” Maybe the students can even get credit from their social-justice class for doing so.

Déborah Blocker, associate professor of French, reports on the anarchy on campus: “Mostly this was typical Black Bloc action, in a few waves — very well-organized and very efficient. They attacked property but they attacked it very sparingly, destroying just enough University property to obtain the cancelation order for the [Yiannopoulos] event and making sure no one in the crowd got hurt.” That’s all right, then. Destroy property but do it to attain another illegitimate end — the silencing of speech you disagree with — and everything is fine.

These are the same faculty who defined speech as “harmful conduct” in their petitions to the Berkeley administration to cancel Yiannopoulos’s engagement. Yiannopoulos “actually harm[s] students through defamatory and harassing actions,” they alleged. Yet when it comes to conduct that actually accomplishes physical harm, that harm is not worth worrying about because it is sanctified by progressive values. Perhaps the next target destroyed “very sparingly” will be a Berkeley professor’s million-dollar hillside bungalow or cherished Prius. We’ll see how quickly the owner calls the cops.

Heather Mac Donald — Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops

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