February 2, 2017 by John Kass
The other day I wrote a column about the need for originalist conservatives on the Supreme Court to limit the ever-expanding power of our Imperial Presidency.
And in it, I mentioned President Donald Trump and the anger of the hard left toward him.
“… the political theater of the left becomes not only increasingly noisy but also increasingly violent and hostile.”
Some readers howled and called me out for the sin of being a conservative. Others demanded I list examples of this increasingly violent and hostile attitude of the left.
There’ve been many examples over the past year or so, of violence at political rallies and so on, but how about something that’s fresh in the news?
People were beaten there by leftist mobs in the name of social justice, beaten to the ground to prevent free speech. Young Trump supporters were beaten.
This took place on the same University of California at Berkeley campus where the “free speech” movement was born decades ago, back when Scott McKenzie sang his gentle song calling young people to California to wear flowers in their hair.
But you can’t smell the flowers when your hair stinks of pepper spray, can you?
Not all the protesters were violent. Many on the left, even the most angry, hold dear to free speech. And legitimate protesters were on campus to demonstrate against a scheduled talk by hard right provocateur, gay bigot and self-described troll Milo Yiannopoulos.
He was supposed to speak to a few hundred. But the riots caused the university to cancel his talk, and the publicity carried the Milo brand to millions. So he of the alt-right got what he wanted. The alt-left gave it to him.
In this, they’re symbiotic species, feeding off the same nutrient: rage.
I find the pro-white alt-right repugnant, but then I’m no a fan of Black Lives Matter protesters chanting for “dead cops” either. But I am a fan of liberty and free speech, even speech that I consider objectionable.
And those members of the hard and angry left who used mob violence to silence objectionable speech revealed themselves as fascist.
With pro-and-con protesters outside the assembly hall at Berkeley came a mob of some 150 or so, mostly young, their faces covered, attacking Trump supporters with sticks, rocks, fists. They also set fires, and police said there were Molotov cocktails.
One of the victims was Kiara Robles, a young woman with a red baseball cap, similar in style to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats.
But her Trump-style hat said, “Make Bitcoin Great Again,” and she was willing to talk to a local ABC TV news crew.
Amid the shouts and anger all around her, Robles took pains to credit those on the left who were nonviolent.
“I’m looking to make a statement by just being here, and I think the protesters are doing the same,” she said. “Props to the ones who are doing it nonviolently, but I think that’s a very rare thing indeed.”
Immediately, she was attacked.
And in full view of the news crew and on video, pepper spray was sprayed in her face. She went down.
If you’ve ever been sprayed in the face with a chemical agent, you’ll never forget the feeling.
Your eyes don’t merely shut, they disappear. Your lungs disappear. Breath is gone. Control is gone. Resolve is gone, and all by chemical design.
It happened to me. Just out of my teens, I’d been in a brawl and was sprayed by police. They grabbed me by my long hair, pulled my head back, and hit me with the stream from a distance of a few inches. My politics were much different then, but I can still remember the spray.
It takes the fight out of you.
But the sin of what happened to Miss Robles at Berkeley is not that it took the fight out of her.
It’s the possibility that it took the tolerance out of her.
Because that’s what mob violence does. That’s what shaming people on social media can do as well. The application of angry group force can take the dignity from victims. The void fills with anger.
Since the Berkeley riot, a common lament is that it was such a small thing, really, and that by using violence, the hard left has actually helped Trump.
Their violence has colored his legitimate critics with the stain of their mob action. And there is some truth to this.
Trump is an objectionable personality, not remotely conservative, a braggart and a bully. And in his typical ham-handed style, he even went so far as to threaten to deny federal funds to Berkeley for its treatment of Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is connected to Breitbart, a pro-right news site once led by Trump adviser Steve Bannon. Berkeley didn’t stop Yiannopoulos. The protesters did.
Yet there is a difference between Trump and the left.
Trump was elected president.
And the left was not.
For all their talk of tolerance and social justice and diversity, the political left is at bottom, all about force.
The force used to silence dissent. The force used to carve out “safe spaces” at universities to protect students from challenging ideas. The force used against those who hold differing views.
And ultimately, it is about using the force of government, under the color of law and with government’s awesome power to tax and destroy, to compel outcomes, modify behavior, shape culture and change minds.
And force was on display at Berkeley the other night, an odious mob from the left silencing an odious troll of the right, in the place where the left’s free speech movement was born.
Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast with John Kass and WGN’s Jeff Carlin here: www.wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.