[Marxism] How Violence Undermined the Berkeley Protest On Campus

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 4 12:36:12 MST 2017


thanks for posting this, Lou.  It is all well said

comradely

Gary

On Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 8:06 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> Then I saw someone wearing all black walk up to a student wearing a suit
> and say, “You look like a Nazi.” The student was confused, but before he
> could reply, the black-clad person pepper-sprayed him and hit him on the
> back with a rod.
>
> I ran after the student who was attacked to get his name and more
> information. He told me that he is a Syrian Muslim. Before I could find out
> more, he fled, fearing another attack. Amid the chaos came word the event
> had been canceled.
>
> ----
>
> NY Times Op-Ed, Feb. 3 2017
> How Violence Undermined the Berkeley Protest On Campus
> Malini Ramaiyer
>
> BERKELEY, Calif. — What do you do as a reporter when a protest begins? You
> cover it.
>
> But what about when the man being protested is known for rhetoric that
> makes you nauseated? Or when you see a student get beaten up because he
> looked “like a Nazi”?
>
> How do you remain objective?
>
> Those were the questions that faced me when, as a reporter for the student
> newspaper at the University of California, Berkeley, I covered the protest
> on Wednesday night at the college that turned violent, drawing national
> attention. I didn’t know what to think about it all, and truthfully, I
> still don’t.
>
> The protesters were demonstrating against a scheduled speech on campus by
> Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor and right-wing provocateur, who had
> been invited by the Berkeley College Republicans.
>
> This was always going to be a controversial event. Mr. Yiannopoulos has
> been giving inflammatory speeches on a college tour meant to push back
> against what he sees as the stifling politically correct left. But his
> language has veered decidedly toward hate speech. At the University of
> Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for example, he singled out a transgender student for
> ridicule by name.
>
> Because of actions like that, many Berkeley students and more than 100
> faculty members petitioned the university to block the event, but the
> chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, declined to do so, citing free speech.
>
> This, of course, raises questions about free speech: Is it free speech if
> it makes us feel unsafe in our own skin? On the other hand, what does this
> campus represent if it doesn’t respect the rights of people with whom many
> of us disagree?
>
> Protests are a staple at Berkeley and I’ve always appreciated the activism
> here. Wednesday night, I saw many creative posters urging people to fight
> Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism. One
> group of protesters wore red ribbons emblazoned “Resist,” while another led
> a “resistance dance party” near the venue.
>
> Until Wednesday, I never felt in danger during a protest. Around 7 p.m. I
> saw a huddle of people yelling at one another. As more people surrounded
> them, a burning red trucker’s hat was held up on a stick. There were
> reports that another student wearing what appeared to be a “Make America
> Great Again” hat was severely injured.
>
> Then I saw someone wearing all black walk up to a student wearing a suit
> and say, “You look like a Nazi.” The student was confused, but before he
> could reply, the black-clad person pepper-sprayed him and hit him on the
> back with a rod.
>
> I ran after the student who was attacked to get his name and more
> information. He told me that he is a Syrian Muslim. Before I could find out
> more, he fled, fearing another attack. Amid the chaos came word the event
> had been canceled.
>
> It was clear early on that the majority of violent protesters most likely
> were not from the campus. Still, in the aftermath, I heard people say that
> peaceful demonstrations would not have succeeded in preventing Mr.
> Yiannopoulos from speaking. So was violence appropriate?
>
> A Trump supporter was hurt. A Syrian Muslim student was hurt. Does either
> of those statements seem more outrageous than the other?
>
> Violence often has unintended consequences. For one thing, those who
> initiated the violence implicated many others in it too. Black students,
> Latino students, gay students and others who are already vulnerable — and
> were protesting peacefully — became even more vulnerable to the backlash.
>
> When the violent protesters thought they were defeating “fascists,” could
> they imagine who else they might be hurting? When my co-reporter was
> threatened as she recorded students marching down the street, and I was
> threatened when I took pictures of the vandalism, I myself became afraid
> and upset.
>
> There are so many people in this country who have been fighting social
> injustices for years. Acts of violence undermine their efforts, and can
> reverse good, patient work. The beauty and the defining characteristic of
> peaceful protests is that they are a struggle, and they don’t always
> translate to concrete results. How do protesters achieve success when they
> are screaming at the top of their lungs and it doesn’t seem as if anyone
> can hear? I understand that frustration. I have felt that frustration.
>
> However, just because peaceful protest doesn’t get as much attention as
> punching someone in the face, it doesn’t mean that we should abandon the
> commitment to peace. Violence doesn’t encourage social progress, and it
> certainly doesn’t quiet those with whom we disagree.
>
> I understand the fight for a more progressive, just society. But this is
> not how we get there.
>
> Malini Ramaiyer is a first-year student at the University of California,
> Berkeley.
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