Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-proclaimed internet troll, was set to speak at UC Berkeley Wednesday night. That event was canceled when “protesters,” the self-proclaimed anti-fascist defenders of minorities, made Milo, a gay Jewish immigrant, fear for his safety by breaking windows and storming the building Milo was in.
Seriously, am I the only person who still understands irony?
I should clarify here that I detest both Milo and the UC Berkeley rioters. This is like the Iran-Iraq War, I want both sides to lose. But there is a huge difference in that while both sides are damaging to American civic culture, Milo remains legal and non-violent. His goal is to provoke others into overreacting. So, naturally, UC Berkeley students responded by destroying their own campus and neighborhood. That’ll teach him.
Of course protests against Milo are fine and acceptable, if not necessarily advisable against someone who makes his fame and fortune by getting people to react. But this “protest” quickly turned into a riot. It began with assaulting a few brave Trump supporters who had showed up. One young woman was pepper sprayed in the face immediately following an on camera interview in which she gave “props to (the protesters) who are doing it non-violently.” Other Trump supporters were beaten, one so badly he was knocked unconscious and another left a pool of his blood on the ground after police charged into the crowd to spirit him away to safety and medical care.
After breaking the windows of the building in which Milo was waiting to speak, shooting fireworks at it, tearing down the barriers and storming the first floor, Milo was rushed to safety and the event was cancelled. At this news, the rioters stopped to have a dance party complete with a DJ, with someone’s Make America Great Again hat burning on top of the remains of what appeared to be an overturned power generator to set the ambiance. Watching this was a bit surreal.
After the dance party, the leaders of the riot got everyone organized again and led the crowd of a few thousand through downtown Berkeley, spray painting buildings, smashing windows, and breaking every ATM they could find. They also seemed particularly fond of piling trash cans in the street and setting them on fire. They broke into a few cars, some with people in them. It was a general wave of mayhem and destruction.
Now, in case my opening paragraph was not clear, I want to reiterate that the people billing themselves as antifas (short for anti-fascists) assaulted political opponents and spent the night breaking glass in order to drive away a Jew. Fascist and anti-fascist may be like flammable and inflammable; two words that sound opposing but actually mean the same thing. And in defense of minorities, they threatened a gay immigrant. You really can’t make this up.
So let’s be clear about one thing: no matter how vile you believe someone’s rhetoric to be, violence is not a justified response. Yes, hate speech is free speech. And when you respond by rioting to someone saying your ideology is a disease, you only make their case. Don’t feed the troll.