When you hear of U.C. Berkeley the first thing that pops into your mind is most likely the Free Speech Movement, right? I mean, that is what the university has been profoundly known for.
Well... that was until Wednesday night, February 1st, when a riot broke out regarding guest speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, who was due to make an appearance only a few hours later.
This riot not only included torching a campus bookstore and the construction site for a new dormitory, vandalizing a Starbucks (which is extremely ironic in the fact that the company is known for being extremely left-minded) and a few local banks, but violence towards police and those attempting to attend this event as well.
In case you don’t quite understand why such an act took place, let me introduce you to Milo Yiannopoulos. He is the senior editor of Breitbart News, an opinion website known for being “conservative” or “far-right”. Mr. Yiannopoulos himself is well known for his controversial opinions on the Black Lives Matter Movement, Feminism, and Campus Rape Culture.
Because students did not like his opinions or want them on their campus, they decided to take to the streets and protest this event with signs that stated things such as “no safe space for racists” and “this is war” (which was supposedly peaceful)... but then all hell broke lose and the rioting began.
These completely reprehensible acts of violence have taken away the voice that the university spent years building. They have tarnished the reputation that so many students before them helped create.
Now when someone talks about the Free Speech Movement, we’ll all think that they’re only in it for like-minded people and don’t actually care about freedom of speech unless it’s their rights being withheld. If you don’t agree with them or view the world the same way, you no longer have freedom of speech in their eyes.
Hell, we’ll all think twice about opening our mouths at all, because we may be pepper-sprayed, punched in the face, have rocks, fireworks, or Molotov cocktails thrown at us, or get attacked in some other way. We’ll think that U.C. Berkeley, once admired for its activism, is not safe for any kind of conservative views or opinions.
The rioters accomplished stopping the event, having Mr. Yiannopoulos escorted off campus (for his protection, of course) and getting President Trump’s attention (if you can call being chastised over Twitter, and told that your federal funds may be cut, attention and not just absolutely embarrassing), but they didn’t make any sort of change that won’t have a bad effect on the University.
They didn’t change anyone’s mind or opinion on the issues. They didn’t even call attention to the issues. And they certainly didn’t show the world what a peaceful protest looks like.
What these rioters accomplished in a few short hours is costing their university thousands of dollars in repairs (and possibly millions in federal funds according to President Trump’s Twitter post). Calling attention to their university in the worst way possible.
Creating a divide and fear on campus that may never be erased. Showing the world that no place is truly safe anymore. Oh, and let’s not forget that they destroyed every ounce of legitimacy that U.C. Berkeley had.
Every peaceful protest this campus has from here on out, will be ignored or called into question. Every student that went to protest Mr. Yiannopoulos ' appearance peacefully, will now be associated with this act of violence.
They’ve made a mockery of themselves and everyone else on campus, and have no one else to blame for their acts of ignorance.
So, U.C. Berkeley rioters, I hope you woke up this morning with the deepest regret for your actions, and aren’t actually proud of the actions that made you look like ignorant criminals and entitled brats throwing a tantrum.
Best of luck.
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