The Berkeley College Republicans have invited far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at UC Berkeley on February 1st.
Given the recent increase in fascist activity both on and around the UC Berkeley campus, we feel that the university’s willingness to provide a platform to Milo Yiannopoulos and his views is unacceptable, and we intend to shut this event down. We are inviting all allies and the Berkeley community to join us in making UC Berkeley a fascist-free zone.
Yiannopoulos is one of the many online trolls who successfully capitalized on the Trump campaign to bring fascist and racist ideas into the mainstream. While his presence on the web can be traced back to the GamerGate controversy, Yiannopoulos rose to cult fame through his work at Breitbart News Network, where he used his identity as a gay man to express overtly islamophobic views under the facade of queer interests. Similar to Trump, the core of Yiannopoulos’ support has come from places like 4Chan, Reddit, and other online bastions of the “Alt-Right”. However, since being banned from Twitter for his anti-black harassment of actor Leslie Jones, Milo has been searching for a new platform off the web for his hateful ideology. In fact, on his current book tour Yiannopoulos has used the frame of “anti-political correctness” to push dangerous narratives about a wide array of marginalized groups. Some examples of his hatred on tour so far includes such spectacles as dressing in drag to mock a sexual assault survivor; calling to keep trans folks out of the LGBT movement and encouraging their harassment; and calling BlackLivesMatter a terrorist group. Additionally, Yiannopoulos is connected to Roosh V, a well-known “men’s rights activist” that has advocated for legalizing rape, and Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute (NPI), intellectual head of the “Alt-Right” that seeks to make America an exclusively white ethno-state, who came to the UC Berkeley campus in May 2016 with UCPD protection to recruit Berkeley students to his white supremacist cause.
In this context, Yiannopoulos’s college speaking tour should be recognized as an effort to embolden “Alt-Right” internet trolls into real world political organizing on college campuses. In light of the success of the Trump campaign, the “Alt-Right” is looking for opportunities to turn their momentum into an organized political front. This event is particularly important as an opportunity for Yiannopoulos to connect with a large audience, and for a large number of far right supporters to connect with him and others at the event. This is an opportunity that we cannot give them.
As the last year has demonstrated, this kind of free speech and discussion has meant near impunity for racists and sexists to target marginalized students on campus with little recourse for those who are harassed. We believe that an educational community should not accommodate fascist ideologies. We believe it is the responsibility of communities both on and off campus to shut down this kind of organizing in order to ensure that there is no platform for fascists in Berkeley!
This is a call to action to stand against fascism and the militarization of campuses. This is a call to stand in solidarity with those communities who are most at risk from this kind of neo-fascist “free speech,” especially in the wake of Trump’s election win. We encourage those interested in taking a stand now to use the letter template below to demand that UC Berkeley not host Yiannopoulos.
Feel free to draft your own message or use the letter script provided below however you choose to contact the University. For those interested in delivering their message over the phone or via mail we have provided that info below:
I am writing to express my anger and frustration at UC Berkeley’s decision to host notorious racist, sexist, and transphobic speaker Milo Yiannopoulos on February 1, 2017. I am also notifying you of a growing inter-community coalition to keep Milo off campus and of my support for them. In light of the increasing hostility towards marginalized groups on campus, including the hate crime committed on campus on election night and the increasing racist harassment around campus that has followed, it is disgraceful that UC Berkeley would welcome Mr. Yiannopoulos and his hateful, bigoted rhetoric on campus. Mr. Yiannopoulos was slated to speak at Portland State University and NYU, however both campuses cancelled the events stating that his viewpoints compromised student safety. He has also been permanently banned from DePaul University as the school claimed he created a “hostile environment.”
The permission of this speaking event is yet another example of the continued inaction by the university to protect the interests of many of its students. At this point it is well within the university’s ability to stop this event from happening. I urge the university to issue an apology to the community at large for permitting such a dangerous figure to come to campus and threaten the safety of its students. If the university chooses not to take action, students and community members will take the initiative to keep their campus safe.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office
Dan Mogulof, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs