by Ben Shapiro | March 2, 2016 12:04 am
Last Thursday, all hell broke loose at California State University Los Angeles. Hundreds of students gathered to chant slogans, block entrances and exits to the student union auditorium, rough up those who wished to enter, pull the fire alarm, and trap other students inside that auditorium under threat of violence. Police officers stood aside and allowed that mob to violate basic safety protocols, reportedly at the behest of the school administration.
Because I was coming to speak.
I had been scheduled to speak at Cal State Los Angeles for weeks. Young America’s Foundation had organized the Fred R. Allen Lecture Series; CSULA represented the kickoff event. Student activists worked hard to publicize the event. Two separate radical professors at the university objected publicly to it, with one challenging “white supremacist” students to wrestle him, and another asking on Facebook, “I say this event is a problem…What we go’n do y’all?!?!”
Then, the Monday before the big conflagration, the president of the university, William Covino, summarily canceled my speech.
“After careful consideration, I have decided that it will be best for our campus community if we reschedule Ben Shapiro’s appearance for a later date, so that we can arrange for him to appear as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity. Such an event will better represent our university’s dedication to the free exchange of ideas and the value of considering multiple viewpoints,” Covino stated in Orwellian fashion.
I told Covino to stick it — this was viewpoint discrimination, and I would show up anyway.
After days of silence, Covino must have determined that he didn’t want to risk the legal consequences of barring me, so just two hours before the event, he backed down, adding, “I strongly disagree with Mr. Shapiro’s views.”
By the time we reached campus, the near-riot had begun. I had to be ushered through a back door by armed security as well as uniformed police. Helicopters circled the area; news trucks parked along the street. The room in which I was slated to speak was nearly empty, because the student protesters had blocked all the doors and were pushing around anyone who wanted to enter. One reporter was assaulted three times; one of the people who wanted to attend my speech was pushed to the ground and kicked. Police smuggled the students in four at a time through the back door until students blocked that door, too. Halfway through my speech, the fire alarm went off. I spoke through it.
When the speech ended, I asked security if I, along with the other students, could go out to confront the protesters. The campus police told me they couldn’t guarantee my safety or that of any of those listening to me if we chose to walk outside. Instead, they’d have to spirit me away through a separate building with a large coterie of armed and uniformed police, stuff me into the back of a van, and then escort me from campus with motorcycles flashing their lights.
This is America in 2016, on a state-funded university campus. And it shouldn’t be surprising.
We have spent two generations turning college campuses from places to learn job skills to places to indoctrinate leftism and inculcate an intolerant view of the world that insists on silencing opposition. We have made campuses a fascist “safe space” on behalf of the left. Anyone who disagrees must be shut down, or threatened or hurt.
It’s not just college campuses, either. We’ve entered an era of politics in which baseless feelings count more than facts, in which political correctness means firing those with different viewpoints, in which government actors insist that they can police negative thoughts. We’re on the edge of freedom’s end, and many Americans don’t even see it.
They would have had they been at CSULA that day. And they will soon enough if they don’t stand up for their rights today.
Ben Shapiro, 32, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, a radio host on KRLA 870 Los Angeles and KTIE 590 Orange County, editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com, and senior editor-at-large of Breitbart News. He is The New York Times best-selling author of “Bullies.” He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles.
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