There is no question that the campus of the University of California at Berkeley is a wing-nut magnet of the first order. Conservative provocateurs are drawn to the legendary campus for several reasons: the school’s left-of-lefty reputation; a heritage of free speech championship that makes for pointed fingers of hypocrisy when local activists protest conservative speakers; and the close proximity of perhaps the nation’s largest and most aggressive antifa community, ever ready to play the foil.
Earlier this month, conservative writer Ben Shapiro spoke at Berkeley, and while there was no violence (the antifa folk appear to have given the event a pass), the campus po-po incurred an estimated cost of $600,000 to keep the peace. Those costs, and the possibility of renewed violence, have had the locals really, really concerned about announced plans for a “Free Speech Week” organized by Milo Yiannopoulos, whose appearance at Berkeley back in February had to be canceled after “150 masked agitators” went wild:
Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police. Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.
This was probably the high point of Milo’s career to date, since it occurred just before he lost his Breitbart gig over an old video of him appearing to endorse pedophilia. So it’s no wonder Yiannopolous decided to go right back to Berkeley to see if he could regain some alt-right martyrdom points. He is, after all, trying to make some money from his recently published book touting his supposed outrageousness.
But Milo (or whoever is advising him) made a big mistake by hyping the event with big names he had not exactly nailed down. At first we heard he’d be accompanied by his former boss Stephen Bannon and by world-class outrage developer Ann Coulter — an unholy trinity that would have guaranteed an antifa freak-out and international notoriety. Blackwater mercenary-king Erik Prince, Islamophobe par excellence Pamela Geller, and alt-right celebrity Mike Cernovich were also reported to be onboard, along with conservative academician Charles Murray and right-wing think tank pundit Heather Mac Donald.
“One dumbfounded speaker after another emerged to voice their surprise at their inclusion on the list, with many claiming to have never been contacted about the event,” wrote Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin.
Conservative social scientist Charles Murray said he was never scheduled to appear at Berkeley despite what the events planners say — and went on to call Yiannopoulos a “despicable a**hole.”
“Commentator Heather Mac Donald was also surprised to find she was meant to speak at the event…. Ann Coulter never confirmed her attendance publicly, and neither did Steve Bannon, who is scheduled to appear at a political rally in St. Louis on Sunday,” said McLaughlin.
As one thing has led to another, rumors ran wild that Yiannopolous will be forced to call it all off. He’s certainly under pressure from the university — which doesn’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for security at a fake event — to do so. Perhaps to wring one last bit of publicity out of the scam, Milo’s planning a press conference in Berkeley for tomorrow. Here’s guessing he’ll have the podium to himself. But it may be the final time he can command this type of attention for a while.