[sixties-l] Berzerk at Berkeley

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 16:32:10 EST

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    Berzerk at Berkeley
    By Dan Flynn
    FrontPageMagazine.com | March 7, 2001
    URL: http://frontpagemag.com/archives/racerelations/flynn03-07-01.htm

    DAVID HOROWITZ'S INSTINCTS were right in attempting to take out an ad in
    the Daily Californian. If you're a conservative, paying for your right to
    speak is just about the only way for your ideas to reach a large audience
    on a campus as inhospitable to free thought as the University of
    California-Berkeley. Conservative views, after all, are scarcely to be
    found amongst the faculty, officially invited guest lecturers, or on the
    op-ed page of the Daily Cal. When conservatives do speak out at Berkeley,
    they are shouted down and threatened.

    I know this from experience.

    Last semester, I was invited to speak at Berkeley by a group of
    conservative students. My speech was shouted down by an angry mob and a
    monograph I had written, Cop Killer: How Mumia Abu-Jamal Conned Millions
    Into Believing He Was Framed, was the subject of a Nazi-style book-burning.

    Even before I arrived on campus on September 27th, angry leftists began
    their campaign of censorship. A banner in the student union advertising my
    lecture was confiscated. Chalkings on the event were scribbled over.
    Hundreds of posters announcing my lecture were torn down. A former student
    senator who was caught ripping down fliers, told the event organizers who
    caught him that he planned to "Sabotage [your] event" and "f--- shit up."
    All of this occurred in the home of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s.

    I was invited to campus to speak on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former
    Black Panther who was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of
    Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal, whose book Live
     From Death Row has sold close to 100,000 copies largely through professors
    requiring students to read it, has become the darling of the academic
    left. Publicly professing your belief that he is guilty can get you into
    trouble, as evidenced by computer viruses that have been e-mailed to me by
    his supporters and two physical attacks upon me by devoted Mumiacs.

    Before I uttered my first word at Berkeley, students began an orchestrated
    campaign of shouting. "White-motherf---er!" "Racist!" and "Nazi!" were
    among the shouts hurled my way. "You're a f---ing murderer!" one man
    yelled, "Don't tell me you're not a murderer! You have blood on your
    hands!" Others accused me of being an FBI agent. One man screamed, "You're
    David Duke, motherf---er!" Perhaps half of the 175 students that packed
    the room were there for the sole purpose of making sure that the other
    half did not hear a word of the lecture.

    As I attempted to speak, a black student invaded the stage and wrote
    www.kkk.com on the chalkboard behind me. One student wore a T-shirt
    stating, "I killed Daniel Faulkner," while an older audience member
    shouted that Abu-Jamal should have been awarded a medal instead of jail
    time for killing a policeman. Another particularly unclean man dropped his
    pants and "mooned" me. He later attempted to rip the microphone's cord
    from the wall.

    As chaos ensued, I was asked to tell the audience that the police were on
    their way and that they would be clearing people out who continued to yell
    and scream. "They've been here the whole time," an audience member
    shouted. "We f---ing invited the police." Indeed, it became clear very
    quickly that the police were already there and that their presence was not
    to ensure my right to free speech, but to reinforce the obstructionists'
    right to silence speech. The only time that I observed an officer speak to
    an audience member was when a man gently asked one of the disrupters to be
    quiet. It was his benign request, rather than the anarchic yelling and
    screaming, that sparked a UC-Berkeley officer to tell the man who had come
    to listen to sit down.

    Despite the disruptions, I decided to turn up the audio on the microphone
    and continue speaking. My persistence in speaking, however, was largely
    symbolic. No one beyond the first few rows could decipher my words amidst
    the constant screaming. Although the mob had succeeded in ensuring that no
    one could hear my lecture, I didn't want to give them the satisfaction of
    forcing me to depart the podium.

    At the conclusion of the event, the mob stole the remaining copies of my
    Cop Killer monograph and held a book-burning. As the students circled
    round the bonfire of books, some ironically held signs admonishing others
    to "Fight Racist Censorship." I was given a police escort to my car
    through a back door.

    With not one Berkeley faculty member or administrator publicly condemning
    the book-burnings or the censorship of my talk, I wrote the University's
    chancellor for clarification regarding Berkeley's policy on free speech.
    Chancellor Robert Berdahl, who didn't even bother to respond, had a deputy
    write back to say, essentially, that the censorship of my lecture was my
    own fault. The response was ironic considering Chancellor Berdahl's very
    public claims embracing civil libertarianism. "No party to any debate^no
    matter the number of people on any side^has the right to exclude speech
    they disagree with," he announced to the campus as he opened the school's
    Free Speech Caf one year ago. "This applies to the administration, it
    applies to the students, the staff and the faculty."

    His remarks lauded the school for carrying on the tradition of the Free
    Speech Movement of the 1960s that began at Berkeley. "This is a legacy
    that carries with it an obligation," he continued, "For if the University
    is truly an institution rooted in democratic values dedicated to the
    freedom of speech we must guard against impediments to this freedom and
    always work to overcome the barriers that would limit speech. I speak of
    the barriers imposed by authority. I speak of the barriers imposed by an
    angry crowd's behavior which make it impossible for a speaker to present
    his or her viewpoint. I speak of the barriers imposed by poverty and
    unequal access to resources such as the media." His words were hollow.

    The reaction of the student body was much less uniform. In the pages of
    the student newspaper, some defended my right to speak. Others implied
    that I should have been arrested. "If they're going to arrest the people,
    they might as well arrest the speaker," remarked student senator Evora
    Griffith immediately after the speech. Griffith noted that by inviting a
    conservative to speak, the organizers "knew this was going to happen."

    Another student senator drew a line between "free speech" and "violent
    speech." "To me, one is protected under the law. The other abridges it and
    the rights of communities of color on campus, and by that token, the
    African American students had every right to tear down the signs of their
    oppression." Despite the very violent speech directed against me, "violent
    speech," he claimed, was the type of speech that I engaged in and that
    needed to be stopped. Thankfully, a majority of the student senate didn't
    buy his argument and formally condemned the censorship of my speech.

    The book-burning of Cop Killer, the subsequent mob prevention of former
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking, and the
    destruction of stacks of copies of the Daily Californian containing David
    Horowitz's ad are all signs of how intellectually bankrupt the campus left
    has become. In the intellectually cloistered world of Berkeley, students
    who have never encountered conservative ideas don't have the means to
    intellectually combat those ideas. Unable to defend its positions by
    normal methods (i.e., debate, reason, etc.), the left resorts to
    censorship to stop the other side from being heard. And what is it that is
    so threatening to the campus left?

    In my case, I offered that five witnesses implicated Abu-Jamal in murder,
    a half dozen others reported that he confessed or otherwise incriminated
    himself, his gun^containing spent shell casings that ballistically matched
    the fatal bullet^was found at the scene, he wore an empty shoulder
    holster, and was found nursing a chest wound from a return round from the
    murdered policeman's gun. Compelling evidence, not just for a jury and
    more than a dozen judges who have reviewed the case, but (judging by the
    hysterical response of those at Berkeley) by the campus left as well. What
    else, but a fear of the truth, would cause them to react in such a way?

    In David Horowitz's case, he notes, among other things, that forcing
    whites who never owned slaves to make payments to blacks who never were
    slaves is unjust. This is a powerful argument. So powerful that the campus
    left censored it.

    Mumia Abu-Jamal enthusiasts know that any real discussion of the case of
    their hero reveals him to be a fraud and a murderer. Likewise, defenders
    of reparations for blacks who were never enslaved paid for by whites who
    never owned slaves is a shakedown scheme that applies Marxist principles
    to race.

    The ongoing censorship of any speech contrary to the prevailing
    ideological dogma at Berkeley is a disgrace. How else, but through
    censorship, can the campus left continue to defend these indefensible

    Dan Flynn is executive director of Accuracy in Academia and the author of
    Cop Killer: How Mumia Abu-Jamal Conned Millions Into Believing He Was

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