Hunter Gilbert is a freshman data journalism major at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about rights and tech for The Maneater.
As the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s, University of California, Berkeley is no stranger to political protest and unrest. Dissenting opinions, whether or not you agree with them, are supposed to be welcomed. But at the most recent protest, freedom of expression and tolerance were put on hold while violence reigned supreme.
Silencing the other side helps no one. The most recent clashes at Berkeley should not have occurred.
People from both sides came looking for a fight. Tim Pool, formerly a part of Vice Media, interviewed a member of Antifa who was there to protest the free speech and Trump rally. The protester claimed he was there because the Trump and pro “free speech” rally were authoritarian, yet the protester brought a knife in anticipation to subvert people to his own political belief. This is ironically a tenet of being an authoritarian. Pool pointed out on the Rubin Report that there were actually traditional liberals participating in the free speech rally.
Then, we saw members of Antifa hurl M-80s at crowds of onlookers, Trump supporters and later the police. Pool interviewed a speaker for Antifa who pointed out that they believe they “have the right to harm others to push their politics.”
People who sympathize with the right used violence and force during the clash as well. On the other side we saw Neo-Nazis punch counter-protesters to get their own point across.
Both sides called each other fascists, but both sides used fascist tactics during their protests and the brawls that transpired afterward. Both sides are at fault.
The fact of the matter is now, more than ever, we need discussion in our country, which isn’t always pretty. Nothing comes easy and none of the topics that need to be discussed are simple. If they were simple and easy to fix, they wouldn’t be issues.
Another thing to take into account is that the groups that clashed at Berkeley are not representative of the entire political spectrum. There were members of white nationalist groups, neo-Nazis and anarchists all of whom had no issue using violence to get their points across. But the actions of few, in this case a very small percent, do not represent the total existence and beliefs of a political party. I know plenty of Democrats and Republicans that can get along just fine with one another.
If we spent more time actually talking to one another rather than labeling and fighting, we could actually come to conclusions in our country. Instead, we find ourselves as polar opposites in a “this us against them” mentality. Believe it or not, things are not always black and white. There is often a grey zone. Nobody wins when we fight and waste time. When we reach the point when we believe violence is the only answer, we have not only lost all credibility as a portion of society but we also have let violence trump democracy and discussion.
Colin Moriarty said on The Rubin Report, “Express yourself, explore difficult ideas, be wrong sometimes, don’t be afraid of guilt by association. Talk to people you disagree with.” Only then can our society attempt to sort out its issues.