A disturbing report from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) describes the shout-down of California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra and California State Assembly Leader Ian Calderon by Pro-Trump, MAGA hat-wearing protesters. Disruptors shouted slogans like: “Build that wall,” “lock him up,” “respect our president,” and “American first.” Becerra’s question and answer session with Calderon was severely disturbed and cut short as a result.
From the video and from FIRE’s account, the shouters do not appear to have been students. In fact the audience as a whole seemed to have been made up primarily of non-students. Apparently, Whittier allowed its facilities to be used for a general community meeting with public officials. According to FIRE, the hecklers have lately been making a practice of disrupting meetings targeting Democratic officials.
Whether these disruptors were students or not, this is a very bad sign. Commentators both right and left have warned leftist campus disruptors that they are endangering their own rights by shouting down others. That kind of danger may be hard to take seriously on campuses where the left clearly dominates. Yet in a deeply divided country, the end of free speech for some could easily cascade into chaos, conflict, and the end of freedom for all.
These Pro-Trump disruptors may not have been students, but their methods and message could spread. If we don’t stop the epidemic of shout-downs now, chaos and civil conflict may follow someday soon.
Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org