UC Berkeley: How the Alt-Right is Trying to Shut Down Sanctuary Universities
On February 1st, a speaking event at UC Berkeley featuring professional troll and Breitbart writer Milo Yiannapoulos had to be cancelled when a once peaceful protest appeared to grow violent. Students rammed gates through the glass doors of the student union, fireworks were shot at police and fires were set. Yiannapoulos called out the left saying they “are terrified of free speech and will do absolutely anything to shut it down.” In the morning, Trump tweeted a threat that Berkeley could have it’s federal funding taken away.
Too bad it’s all based on a lie.
If you don’t know who Yiannapoulos is, consider yourself fortunate. I’ll give you the quick version. Milo Yiannapoulos is an extreme right wing blogger whose website got sued for nonpayment before shuttering it’s doors, has potentially defrauded donors with a fake charity, and has been banned off Twitter for leading a racist campaign against Leslie Jones.
For the last few years he’s been writing for Breitbart where his particular toxic brand of anti-feminism, racism, transphobia and Islamophobia completely fit in with then editor-at-large Steve Bannon’s vision for the website.
In 2014, Yiannapoulos gained a cult following with online trolls and young neo-nazis by getting out in front of the Gamergate harassment campaign. By being the only blogger to reframe it as a cultural war for bitter young men to take back a medium that was once rightfully theirs, Yiannapoulos became a de-facto leader of the group. This became the online part of what would be known as the alt-right movement.
The core of the online alt-right is made up of a collection of trolls, white supremacists, anti-feminists and neo-nazis who come together to share their love of all things fascist and terrorizing people. I covered the alt-right’s love affair with Trump in great detail here.
In October of 2015, Yiannapoulos became the editor of Breitbart Tech. Although it was functionally an expansion of the main Breitbart site, in reality it was a quarantine site to prevent confusion of the general conservative Breitbart readers who didn’t understand why the website was running hit pieces of random trans women or had comment sections flooded with chan speak like “top kek.” Yiannapoulos hired 8chan trolls as interns to write articles for him and even admitted on Reddit that he simply republishes 8chan harassment campaigns.
It was around this time that Milo set out on what he called his Dangerous Faggot Tour, making regular trips to university campuses where he had been invited to speak. Having built up a large following in the alt-right community, it wasn’t hard to find an outlier at various colleges that would file formal requests, usually on behalf of a student Republican group, to have Yiannapoulos appear as a speaker.
It started out as one would expect, with Yiannapoulos giving his typical toxic rants against feminism, transgender people and talking about how Black Lives Matter are really all terrorists. For Milo, it was not only a chance to grow his audience as a professional troll, but also to radicalize and recruit other young malcontents into his little alt-right mob.
But over the course of the next year, as Trump rose in popularity, so did Milo’s university crowds. And just like the toxicity of Trump’s rallies where he encouraged violence, vilified minorities and stoked the fires of hate, so too did Milo.
Students at future speaking events started to fear for their safety and appealed to their schools to turn Yiannapoulos away, only to learn that the administrations routinely took a hands off approach to booking guest speakers since they were initiated by student requests. Moreover, universities consistently failed to provide adequate or any security to protect students from Milo’s riled up alt-right mob.
In December of 2016, Yiannapoulos spoke at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee where he publicly outed and berated a trans student in the audience as he publicly displayed her photo, used her deadname, and called her “a man in a dress.” Public humiliation aside, this was far from an uncommon tactic of Milo’s and was used to paint a target on the student for his alt-right mob to terrorize. She drafted an incendiary response to the university’s complete inaction on the matter and I highly recommend reading it.
Things came to a head when Milo was scheduled to speak at the University of Washington on January 20th, 2017 — inauguration day. Emotions were running high and protesters filled the streets of every major city. Milo’s fanbase was there too and a conflict was almost inevitable. Part way through Milo’s speech, one of his supporters shot another man in the crowd. Milo’s fans immediate took to Twitter to spread disinformation that it was a protestor who shot a Trump voter, but this was quickly discredited.
Professor Alan-Michael Weatherford at UofW describes groups of neo-Nazis outside the event filming anyone they deemed vulnerable to be later identified and terrorized. Weatherford was immediately doxed and had accusations of sexual assault posted online en masse — all extremely consistent tactics of Milo’s fanbase.
Clearly the Brownshirts are here, and only growing more aggressively violent.
On January 31st, two things happened. One is that Trump announced his unconstitutional order to detain and deport everyone from seven predominantly Muslim countries whether they were in the United States legally or not. Visa holders were suddenly denied entry and Permanent Residents or Green Card holders were pressured into abandoning their PR status.
The other thing that happened that day is Breitbart published an article announcing that Milo Yiannapoulos was now being backed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center to “take down the growing phenomenon of ‘sanctuary campuses’ that shelter illegal immigrants from being deported.”
The article goes on to say that the campaign would launch during Yiannapoulos’ UC Berkeley speech and “will call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies, starting with UC President and former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.”
Sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses have become a serious topic as many cities like Boston and San Francisco have already voiced their refusal to comply with Trump’s anti-immigration orders and instead honour DOPA by providing protection to vulnerable undocumented immigrants. Trump has threatened to cut off federal funding to these cities if they don’t comply, but so far many are holding out.
“We are deeply concerned for all students’ safety and ability to pursue their education here at Cal beyond Milo’s speech. Milo’s event may be used to target individuals, either in the audience or by using their personal information in a way that causes them to become human targets to serve a political agenda.” — UC Berkeley Officials
If you’ve never heard of the David Horowitz Freedom Center before, you’re not alone. Here’s the mission statement from their website, which I think tells you all you need to know.
“The David Horowitz Freedom Center combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror. The leftist offensive is most obvious on our nation’s campuses, where the Freedom Center protects students from indoctrination and intimidation and works to give conservative students a place in the marketplace of ideas from which they are otherwise excluded.”
Officials at UC Berkeley have had run ins with the Center before finding posters with photos and names of targeted students posted on campus property. The university had sufficient evidence to believe that Milo intended to out undocumented immigrant students during his speech that would be live-streamed so they could be targeted for deportation, and given both the Freedom Center and Yiannapoulos’ past actions, it seems very credible. But despite acknowledging the very credible threat to the safety of their students and understanding that someone was shot by a Yiannapoulos supporter only a week earlier, UC Berkeley decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t put a stop to the event.
On February 1st, an estimated 1,500 protesters gathered outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union to oppose Yiannapoulos. They arrived early. They chanted. They sang songs. According to UCPD it was a peaceful protest and there were no problems.
Later in the evening, but before the event started, UCPD noted that 100 to 150 people dressed in black with masks arrived and started to cause chaos. They started shoving the crowd, trying to start fights. They rammed gates through glass windows and set a generator on fire. Yiannapoulos was quickly shuttled to safety by security and his event was cancelled.
After police ordered the protesters to disperse and fired rubber bullets at the now unruly crowd, the agitators continued off, smashing windows of nearby banks, destroying ATMs and spray painting “Kill Trump” on walls. They even dedicated a severe amount of damage to a Wells Fargo bank a good 7 blocks away from the Student Union.
There were no arrests made.
The next morning, virtually every news outlet was calling the Berkeley protest a riot. It wasn’t reported as a protest hijacked by an outside organized group of agitators, but as free speech being denied by an out of control liberal mob.
Trump also, weighed in through his usual medium, Tweeting his condemnation at UC Berkeley and threatening to pull their federal funding.
And of course Breitbart and the online alt-right will be dining on this for months, having gotten exactly what they wanted — a chance to call liberals a bloodthirsty mob of people who are at once both violent and somehow still fragile snowflakes. For the amount these people complain about safe spaces, it’s amazing how much they always seem to need one. Yiannapoulos himself just can’t seem to stop crying crocodile tears over the incident, even a full day later.
All of this is fact and known to us at this point. But I’m going to connect some dots in a more speculative fashion now, so don’t take any of this as proven yet, but I’m going to show my work.
The big question is who were this group of agitators and why did they smash up Berkeley to stop a Yiannapoulos event. If there was one thing consistent about the on scene reporting, it’s that many outlets got an interview with Eddy Brock, a young man who was injured most when chaos erupted.
Eddy Brock (which I have to point out is the real name of the villain Venom from Spider-Man comics) identified himself as a UC alumni, a Milo Yiannapoulos fan and told Mother Jones that he was “hit for disagreeing” by the protesters.
Other eye-witness accounts contradict Brock’s version of events. One person says she witnessed him “shove peaceful protesters, film people, yell in their faces, flail his arms at them to attack.” I have to point out that these are all consistent, antagonistic tactics of Milo’s loyal audience up to this point.
A look at Eddy’s Facebook wall shows it to be mostly filled with Yiannapoulos posts and Anarchist group memes, his avatar a picture of a penguin(?) with the Anarchist “A” on it’s chest. His Twitter feed shows that he was an active participant of Gamergate during it’s heyday — the online harassment campaign that Yiannapoulos became defacto leader of.
All of this is completely in character for Milo’s most rabid and loyal fanbase. After all, this is the alt-right that he built for Steve Bannon. People like Eddy Brock are the soldiers in his culture war against women and minorities — the people they have labelled “SJWs.”
But Brock also appears to be an active Anarchist, which is not really the norm, at least not up to this point. The group of instigators who showed up at Berkeley to cause damage — damage the peaceful protesters would later be blamed for — were also Anarchists.
We know they were Anarchists because they arrived in standard “black bloc” gear, made popular by the Anarchist movement. During their attack on the Wells Fargo bank, they also spray painted large Anarchy “A” symbols on the walls.
I’m not saying for certain that Brock was part of this Anarchist group, but it’s awfully coincidental to have him actively support Anarchists, provoke fights with UC Berkeley protesters, and to not be a part of the other Anarchists wreaking havok on the campus. I don’t buy it.
Which leaves the big question of were these Anarchists there to do what Anarchists do, or were they just good old fashioned capitalists and were paid to smear the protesters at the event. It wouldn’t even be a particularly clever or new tactic, borrowing from the strike breaking handbook of thuggery from yesteryears.
Keep in mind, it was only two weeks earlier that Conservative instigator James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas organization got caught offering money to an activist group in exchange for a violent protest on inauguration day. Not to say that O’Keefe was or wasn’t involved with the UC Berkeley incident, but just that these type of false flag incidents are a consistent tactic of the alt-right.
To get closer to answering this question, we have to ask what would be gained.
For Yiannapoulos it’s publicity. He’s doing talk shows galore and getting national media coverage where he’s painted as the victim, despite announcing that he was fully intending to unleash an attack campaign against the campuses immigrant students and put them at risk. No one’s reporting that part of it.
He also gets to play victim and whine about the “intolerant left,” playing up the smear campaign that the Anarchists created. It plays right into Milo’s long standing culture war.
And besides that, he has a book to pre-sell.
David Horowitz gets to use the event to attack UC Berkeley as being “unsafe” and harbouring potential terrorists. It’s allowed the school to become a political punching bag to further his organization’s Islamophobic agenda.
And then in the morning, Trump threatens to pull the school’s federal funding. Now UC Berkeley actually receives 55% of it’s funding from federal sources, so if that actually happened, it’s entirely likely it could sink one of the most highly respected educational institutions in the country. But to Trump, it would be a means to shutting down a Sanctuary School, something he has no problems with given his threats to pull all federal funding from Sanctuary Cities.
But most importantly to link this together, let’s not forget Steve Bannon. Bannon, aside from being an anti-semetic white nationalist, was Trump’s campaign manager and is currently serving as Trump’s policy advisor. Trump’s recent Muslim Ban order was written by him, and it was he who gave the order for border security to deny Green Card holders as well.
Before his current monstrous acts inside the White House, he was Yiannapoulos’ boss at Breitbart, and in many ways, still is. Breitbart has since bragged that they have become a form of “state-run media.”
It’s incredibly probable that Bannon called up Yiannapoulos, shared his intention of the Muslim ban and connected him with Horowitz. All Yiannapoulos has to do is continue his university talks targeting Sanctuary Schools and give Trump the excuse he needs to shut them down.
Yiannapoulos could just as easily go through with his event, and hurt a handful of students, but why go after ten students when a violent spectacle will leave the entire school vulnerable to Trump’s whims, and get the entire news media to be talking about protesters being too violent. Do you think that Trump doesn’t also want to sign orders making it harder for people to exercise their free speech through protesting? You bet your ass he does.
So there it is, and while I can’t yet prove that it was an orchestrated event to allow Trump to attack UC Berkeley, I do believe as more facts unfold that this is the story it will tell.
Protect your fellow students, because the Brownshirts are coming.