This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.
For decades, the University of California at Berkeley has had a reputation as an off-beat place where students get out of control when they get upset about something. Egged on by radical-left professors and what is arguably the country's most irresponsible campus paper, Daily Californian, UC Berkeley has well-earned the moniker, Beserkley. To make matters worse, the school has been "led" in recent years by a feckless chancellor named Nicholas Dirks, who having been forced to resign is hiding under his desk as he awaits the naming of a successor. I say hiding under his desk because this is a guy who used school money to have an escape tunnel built in his office in the event of out-of-control student protests-such as last week. Last week's riot, however, set a new low for UCB's national reputation. It has been compounded by actions not only during the riot, but before and after.
When the College Republicans announced that they had invited conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on February 1, it set off a chain of howls from the leftists on campus as well as the community agitators, many of whom no doubt participated in the riot. Over 100 professors, who obviously don't know the first thing about the First Amendment, asked the chancellor to cancel the event. They wrote two letters, which the student journalists at the Daily Californian edited for style and clarity. Dirks, in a rare moment of gumption, issued a statement condemning Yiannopoulois but insisting that the principle of free speech dictated his right to speak.
The day before the event, the Daily Californian ran an op-ed by a student urging the campus to turn out and "kick Yiannopoulos off campus." Then the riot occurred. Fires were set, windows and glass doors were broken, and some people were beaten. Incredibly, campus police, no doubt told to stand down by the administration, arrested a grand total of one person. An employee of the campus reportedly beat a Trump supporter and posted pictures of his victim in social media as he lay on the ground.
Now, as we speak, UCB is circling the wagons. The next evening, UC Professor and former labor secretary Robert Reich, who witnessed the riot, told Don Lemon on CNN that the rioters (who were masked) were not students because he knows the students (all 38,000 of them presumably.) More incredibly, he said that according to rumors he heard, the rioters were actually right-wingers trying to discredit UCB's reputation for free speech. Rumors. And this guy is a professor?
And then there is the Daily Californian. I read a lot of campus papers online while following the insanity in academia, and I can think of no worse campus paper than the DC. This is a paper that features a gay male student columnist who writes in excruciating detail of his sexual exploits. There is also a female columnist who works as a sex worker and describes her intimate details in columns, as well as a young black man whose op-eds are consistently about how white people are still victimizing blacks in the year 2017. I should also add that four-letter words are just fine and dandy with the editorial board-whoever they are.
All that pales in comparison to this past week's writings at the DC which are actually defending the riots. Arguably the worst was this op-ed which claimed that the riot demonstrated the presence of free speech on the UCB campus.
The entire University of California is in bad shape under the leadership of UC President Janet Napolitano. Having just concluded an 18-year adjunct teaching career at UC Irvine, it is my view that the problems existed before she arrived, but things have gone from bad to worse. The riot at UCB has brought added national attention to that school's problems. It is all part of a greater national virus that infects universities; political correctness, indoctrinating professors, unrestrained anti-Semitism over the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and a preoccupation with ethnicity that divides students into tribes. It's going to take a long time to overcome this entrenched culture. We can start by putting new leadership into places like UC Berkeley.