The Alexandria shooting, at a Congressional baseball practice, is only the latest event in a building trend of politically motivated violence targeting conservatives. This movement has been building for years, starting on our nation's college campuses.
Now, numbers show these anti-conservative actions have tripled since the election of President Donald Trump.
Today, a whopping 46 percent of events with conservative speakers hosted by Young America’s Foundation (YAF) were disrupted. In the year before the election, this number was less than 15 percent.
These events were either disrupted by protesters, stalled by university administrators, or outright canceled. This intolerance toward conservative views is the greatest threat to free speech on our nation's college campuses today.
Aggression toward conservatives on campus is at an unprecedented and unsustainable level. It should not be the case that 1-in-5 students are afraid to express controversial opinions on campus, according to a poll conducted by The Polling Company, Inc. on behalf of Young America’s Foundation.
The epitome of this growing threat is the recent unconstitutional suppression of free speech by the University of California, Berkeley. The University stymied every effort to provide a venue to host Ann Coulter, a prominent conservative author and speaker, and then used viewpoint-discriminatory restrictions by selectively enforcing an unwritten “high-profile speakers” policy.
The university used this unwritten policy only twice. First against David Horowitz, also a prominent conservative and New York Times rated best-selling conservative author, then against Coulter. Furthermore, the University of California Police Department at Berkeley has an official “stand-down” policy, effectively giving protesters permission to veto conservative speech.
Free speech violations may be on the rise, but conservative’s readiness to fight back should be too. We need to fight and be ready to go the distance. This is why YAF, along with the Berkeley College Republicans, is taking legal action against Berkeley to protect students’ First Amendment rights and ensure future conservative groups do not face these unconstitutional obstacles.
Winning in court alone, however, is not the solution. We must win over campus culture.
A startling 53% of college students agree that using or not using certain words can constitute an act of violence, according to the same poll conducted by The Polling Company, Inc. on behalf of Young America’s Foundation. This is how the Left justifies their violent actions to shut down conservative speech. To the radical Left, ideas and words equal violence.
This perverted conception of violence has dangerous consequences. Only 28% of student respondents reported being “very concerned” with the “censorship of ideas, opinions, or free speech” on their college campus.
It has become commonplace for conservative students to face harassment and assault from campus leftists. Nearly 400 students signed a statement at the University of Michigan voicing their concern of the hostile environment toward conservatives on campus after the election of President Donald Trump.
Conservatives should not let the pressure from the Left force them into silence. Rather they should actively continue to host events with conservative speakers and challenge bias at their schools. When administrators get in the way or stand by as hecklers take over conservative events, students should fight back. Freedom of speech is worth the fight everywhere, including on campus.
Conservatives cannot fight for free speech on the sidelines. Winning this free speech battle requires the bold, unrelenting defense of conservative ideas.