UC-Berkeley: Then and Now

James Studdard is an attorney who did not attend UC-Berkeley. His application to Berkeley was summarily rejected for some allusion he made about God and country. He may be reached if absolutely necessary, at studlaw2000@yahoo.com.

In 1964 I was a freshman at a small community college in Glendale, California doing some remedial course work in preparation for applying for admission to a more well-known and academically respected University. Among the colleges I applied to was the University of California at Berkeley. A fellow classmate of mine (now, a retired West Point educated General) warned me that UC Berkeley was a hotbed for “free speechers,” and I might consider a more irenic college for serious studies. He explained that the free speech movement was headed up by a radical liberal named Mario Savio, who claimed that the UC administration was suppressing (liberal) student activism. The Civil Rights Act was in full swing which provided the impetus for the movement.
In December of 1964, after weeks of sit-ins, lie-ins, and loaf-ins, Savio spoke before a massive sit-in that led to the arrest of 800 students. A reporter described what followed as a “gauntlet,” as students were pushed down the stairs, beat, and kicked. The confrontation proved too much for the university, and the university faculty voted to end all restrictions on political activity (by liberals).
What is ironic about the sixties protests is that not one or group of masked conservatives attacked Mario Savio. There were no fires started, no windows smashed, or epithets thrown. There was, though, protest from a rising politician named Ronald Reagan. Reagan, as he was testing the waters for entering the California governor’s race in 1966, was continually asked the question about his opinion of the Berkeley protesters. Reagan blasted both the protesters and the administrators who, according to Reagan, were coddling the disruptive students. Reagan was incredulous of the kerfuffle and said, “Will we allow a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy dissident minority? Will we meet their neurotic vulgarities with vacillation and weakness?”
Now, fast forward, same school, 2017. Conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter is invited to speak at Berkeley, only to be violently rejected by the hooded liberals who so gushingly promoted free speech in the halcyon days of Mario Savio, Angela Davis, and others of the Herbert Marcuse stable of social reformers. Radicals then, who believed, at least as a façade for justifiable violence, the Marcuse mantra, “man in the pursuit of Socialism, needs to adopt the mantle of a Marxist Existentialist which will lead to a qualitatively different society and life of the egalitarian stripe.” Huh? Initially, Coulter, was granted safe passage to speak at Berkeley, but then, as it usually happens when conservatives attempt to speak at any bastion of liberal Fascists; the wailings and whimpering, kicking and screaming, and holding of  breath  go up, endorsed and funded by the usual suspects, like, say, George Soros and, well, free speech was not free after all, not, at least, for conservatives. The basement dwelling millennials struck. The anarchists prevailed. Coulter blinked. No speech.
This brings me around full circle in the political spectrum and begs a revisit to the question asked to and the response of Ronald Reagan about the Berkeley protesters, supra. “Will we allow a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy dissident minority? Will we meet their neurotic vulgarities with vacillation and weakness?” The answer in 2017 is sadly, but inevitably, yes.

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