It seems both the protesters and Milo Yiannopoulos got what they wanted. The protesters got the controversial Breitbart figure’s event shut down and Milo got the notoriety and becomes a martyr for the right and their claim about an intolerant campus.
UC Davis issued a statement on Friday night, “After consulting with UC Davis Police Department and UC Davis Student Affairs officials, the Davis College Republicans canceled tonight’s event featuring Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos. The decision was made at about 7:00 pm, 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the event, after a large number of protesters blocked access to the venue, and it was determined that it was no longer feasible to continue with the event safely.”
“I am deeply disappointed with the events of this evening,” said Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter. “Our community is founded on principles of respect for all views, even those that we personally find repellent. As I have stated repeatedly, a university is at its best when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive.”
The decision was not one made by Milo himself.
“My event at UC Davis tonight has been cancelled after violence from left-wing protesters,” read a post on Yiannopoulos’ Facebook page. “There are reports of hammers, smashed windows and barricades being torn away. The campus police can’t guarantee anyone’s safety so I’m not being allowed anywhere near the building. Stay safe, everyone.”
The university confirmed, however, that despite some reports to the contrary, “there were no broken windows or other property damage during the protest. Earlier in the evening, one person was arrested inside the venue. No further arrests were made. “
Meanwhile, Mr. Yiannopoulos posted, “I’ll be marching through the UC Davis campus from 1 pm today, with Martin Shkreli and the College Republicans, to protest the cancellation of my event last night.”
The College Republicans added, “We will not stand for the repressive left perpetuating violence, censoring speech, and spreading hate.”
The Vanguard has, over the last month, received a large number of guest contributions on this topic.
In December, a student group wrote, “The use of campus facilities and resources to host and therefore legitimize a white nationalist runs completely counter to the stated goals of the University of California and serves as a direct threat towards traditionally marginalized groups on campus.”
They added that “we demand that UC Davis administrators remove Milo Yiannopoulos’ platform for spreading hate and bigotry on our campus and issue a statement condemning white nationalist rhetoric within our community. Now is the time for our university to take a firm stand and prove its commitment to inclusivity and egalitarianism in the face of growing exclusionist movements throughout the United States.”
While some have called for opposition to the event, that does not represent the view of the Vanguard. “The real test of free speech is those screaming at the top of their lungs something that you oppose with every ounce of your being – will you fight for them?” the Vanguard wrote in a December column.
In a statement to the UC Davis community earlier on Friday, Acting Chancellor Ralph Hextor wrote, “All of those who expressed concern referenced Mr. Yiannopoulos’s notoriety for making disrespectful and often offensive utterances directed at certain segments of our society, or global society, and for denigrating ideas with which he disagrees. They view the beliefs and statements in question, along with similar ones attributed to Mr. Shkreli, as being in sharp conflict with the type of institutional environment that UC Davis is committed to supporting—one that is inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds, and dedicated to the pursuit of deeper understanding through the free and civil exchange of ideas.”
He continued, “We affirm the right of our students—in this instance, the Davis College Republicans—to invite speakers to our campus. Any public university must do everything it can to make sure that all members of its community are free to express their views—both because free expression is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution and enshrined in University of California policy, and because it is an essential ingredient of excellence in higher-education teaching and research.”
He would add, “[L]et me add my personal belief that a university is at its best, is most true to itself, and makes proper use of its unique intellectual resources when it listens to and critically engages opposing views, especially ones that many of us find upsetting or even offensive.”
The Davis Phoenix Coalition wrote the university “to express our condemnation and concern over the hateful rhetoric promoted by Mr. Yiannopoulos’ visit and the unsafe climate these types of speakers breed.”
They continued, “While fully understanding and believing in the power and importance of the First Amendment, we also know that language informs human action. Most hate crimes are primed, as was the one that prompted the formation of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, by the perpetrators using language to dehumanize their victims.”
At the same time, they agreed with law professor Alan Brownstein when “he rightly states that now is not the time for censorship and that now more than ever our right to free speech will be of utmost importance.”
Instead, they argued, “So if our only recourse to keep our democratic freedoms intact while promoting a world where all people are safe, respected and free from violence is to speak up against hateful rhetoric then we implore our community to speak up loudly, to join us in condemning intolerance, to renew our commitment to civil discourse and the respectful bridging of common values and differences in ideas.”
Finally, Sean Raycraft, an organizer and a Vanguard Board Member, wrote in Davis College Republicans Have A Lot To Answer For On Milo, “the College Republicans have invited the elephant to our community, knowing its going to step on a lot of mice.”
He adds, “As far as I am concerned, the College Republicans THEMSELVES are responsible for the hurt and pain caused by Milo coming here. Milo is what he is, they know that, the community knows that, and so does Milo. They have a lot to answer for.”
The Vanguard messaged the College Republicans asking for a response and never received a response.
—David M. Greenwald reporting