Milo Yiannopoulos calls President Trump “Daddy,” and it seems the relationship might be mutual.
Wednesday evening, UC Berkeley ultimately canceled a speech by Yiannopolous, Breitbart editor and professional provocateur, just two hours before it was to take place. The speech, organized by Berkeley College Republicans, was massively protested, and those demonstrations turned increasingly violent after masked protesters not affiliated with the university started marching on Oakland.
Early Thursday morning, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes railed against the protests:
The birth place of free speech became its graveyard. So here’s what needs to happen: President Trump should immediately issue an executive order blocking Berkeley students from receiving any federal funding. Same goes for any other public university that wants to silence conservative voices. Free speech for all or no federal money! Not a single taxpayer penny, period!
That segment aired around 5:17 am. An hour later, Trump tweeted:
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Then, at the top of the 7 o’clock hour, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox and Friends to reinforce the tweet. She mocked the students who protested, saying, “I don’t even know if they know what they’re protesting. I would love to do this big survey nationwide and ask everybody outside these airports, on the college campuses: what’s got you so in a lather?”
“Life doesn’t work that way folks,” she said. “You’re going to work with people who disagree with you. You’re going to encounter folks who aren’t just accosting you in this protective environment.”
Besides the fact that the airport protesters were very clearly protesting Trump’s Muslim ban, the students protesting Yiannopoulos also have obvious concerns. “Provocateur” falls short of describing the way Yiannopoulos propagates hate in the forms of sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and even homophobia (despite being gay himself).
For example, when he spoke at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in December, he publicly doxxed a transgender student on campus, outing her, calling her a “tranny,” showing pictures of her, deadnaming her, and encouraging the crowd to ridicule her. She was actually in the audience, and she later wrote candidly about how she felt so unsafe on campus afterwards that she dropped out.
Berkeley had every reason to be concerned that Yiannopoulos’ appearance there could pose a similar threat to students. A post the day before on Breitbart openly proclaimed that he would use his appearance at Berkeley to kick off a campaign to “take down” the “sanctuary campuses” that protect students who are undocumented immigrants. The university’s Office of Student Affairs even reached out to the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) to express concern that Yiannopoulos would publish pictures and personal information about undocumented Berkeley students.
After the speech was cancelled, BCR complained that its “constitutional right to free speech was silenced by criminals and thugs.” Yiannopoulos himself insisted that “the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”
What Yiannopolous offers is not just speech, but bullying of the most vulnerable. He openly encourages those who are white and male to attack basically anyone and everyone else. Trump, taking his cues from Fox News, is validating his behavior.