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Leftist protestors are increasingly shutting down campus speakers — regardless of their political affiliation


Radical, indoctrinated students at progressive American universities, encouraged by equally radical professors and college presidents, see all beliefs, ideas, and words with which they disagree as “violence” that must be protested and purged.

Several speaking events have been hindered by anti-Israel protestors at different universities recently as left-wing students continue to show a growing comfortability with shouting down invited speakers.

Most notably, anti-Israel protestors are now shutting down speakers from both sides of the aisle. In March, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., was invited to speak at the University of Maryland for the Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture Series.

The lecture was titled, “Democracy, Autocracy, and the Threat to Reason in the 21st Century.” Raskin began by stating, “Progress in history requires not just reasoning, which is certainly necessary, but it’s not sufficient, because it also requires the addition of the pro-social emotions, as the psychologists call it, of solidarity, empathy, love and the political virtues of justice and equality and freedom.”

Not long after, though, Raskin was interrupted by anti-Israel protestors claiming that the representative was “complicit in genocide.” In keeping with the theme of his speech, Raskin suggested that the protesters should engage in a discussion with him rather than heckling. He attempted to explain his position in advocating for the return of hostages taken by Hamas as part of a ceasefire. As he attempted to resume his lecture, however, protestors again shouted so loudly that he had to stop his speech.

Raskin then responded, “We need a new peace movement too, if you are the representatives of it. Because you’re not engaging in real dialogue with people and you’re not convincing anybody.”

As protestors began arguing with other attendees, UMD President Darryll Pines ended the lecture.

Pines disagreed with Raskin’s premise, saying that he sees the heckler’s veto as an example of democracy at work.

“He came here to speak about where our democracy is going in our country. What you saw play out actually was democracy and free speech and academic freedom. From our perspective as a university, there are the difficult conversations that we should be having,” Pines claimed.

A similar scene took place at the University of Georgia as Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., spoke as an invited guest by the local Turning Point USA group. One after another in continuous fashion, protestors stood up during Collins’s speech to accuse him of supporting genocide because of his support for Israel while lobbing obscenities and insults at him, including calling him a “fascist.”

Collins attempted to speak about the murder of University of Georgia student Laken Riley, who was allegedly attacked and murdered by an illegal immigrant, who has since been arrested and charged. But protestors claimed Collins was using her death to spread hatred. The protestors largely read statements off of phones or printed out on paper to make the claims that Collins has “blood on his hands” for supporting the genocide of “30,000 Palestinians.”

Their attempts to stop him from speaking eventually led to the congressman being escorted off campus.

Meanwhile, some groups are calling for the punishment of 72-year-old Walter Isaacson, a well-known biographer and journalist and a history professor at Tulane University, after he pushed a pro-Palestinian protestor out of the New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week. The anti-Israel groups claim the event was sponsored by Tulane University, though Tulane disputes this.

The protestor, Rory MacDonald, a transgender who uses “they/them” as his pronouns, was shouting and interrupting the event. MacDonald was asked by a group known as New Orleans Stop Helping Israel’s Ports to interrupt the event and was the eighth protestor to stand up and interrupt. Tulane Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) claim that when Isaacson pushed MacDonald out of the room, he cursed at him, battered him, and left him with scratches and bruises.

Video of the encounter does not show Isaacson doing anything other than grabbing MacDonald by the arms and pushing him out of the room.

SDS put out a statement calling for Isaacson to be dismissed. In that same statement, they claimed that Tulane and Louisiana State University are helping Israel to steal natural gas and called on Tulane to divest from Israeli companies or those who sell weapons or fuel to Israel.

A report by College Pulse and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) found that 63 percent of students believe that it is acceptable to shout down a speaker in order to prevent them from speaking on campus; 45 percent believe it is acceptable to block other students from attending a speech; and 27 percent believe it is acceptable to use violence to stop a speaking engagement on campus.

Notably, students were far more likely to favor silencing a conservative speaker than one who is liberal or progressive.

Even more disturbing is that students are not developing this view in a vacuum. These same beliefs are also held and pushed by numerous members of academia and university presidents such as Pines, who claims that stopping a person from expressing their right to free speech is, in itself, free speech.

Shouting down a speaker is known as the heckler’s veto, and it is not only against most university policies, it is actually illegal in some states.

That hasn’t stopped students from trying to continually silence speakers they oppose. Anti-Israel protestors seem to be one of the most willing groups to silence speakers of any political persuasion with their claims that anyone who supports Israel’s right to defend itself supports the genocide of Palestinians, but groups who support abortion, LGBTQ ideology, climate change, and other radical progressive beliefs are just as aggressive.

What these students, professors, and university presidents like Pines miss is that silencing a speaker is not free speech, it is actively thwarting free speech. Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at George Washington University, criticized Pine’s weak response to the protestors at Maryland, writing,

“These protesters stopped the free exchange of ideas in a university event. They prevented opposing views from being spoken or heard. In so doing, they blocked the critical condition needed for higher education in allowing an exchange of ideas. Heckling is an effort to stop discussion, not to engage in discussion.

Clearly, the ‘difficult conversation’ for Pines is to enforce university policies and protections for free speech. It takes courage and principle. It requires administrators to have the commitment to suspend or expel students who disrupt classes or events. They have every right to protest outside or to ask difficult questions. They do not have a right to prevent speech.”

These students aren’t seeking to participate in democracy and they aren’t looking to engage with speakers. They aren’t passionate liberals looking to have a reasoned debate with conservatives. They are radical leftists looking to silence anyone with whom they disagree. Through shrill and unhinged shouts of ad hominem attacks and ridiculous accusations, these students, brainwashed by the leftist institutions they attend, stop anyone to the right of Mao Zedong from speaking because they cannot handle the ideas, beliefs, or words of anyone they disagree with.

To the left-wing American college student, any dissent from leftist talking points and radical delusions “is literally violence.”

University presidents and academics must stand up to these childish protestors and discipline them if they ever hope to have free discussion on campus. If they won’t then it will be up to legislators to ensure taxpayer dollars are not spent on political indoctrination facilities instead of institutions of higher education.

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