Coulter pulls Berkeley speech, but Alt-Right descends on campus

Simon Murdoch - 27 04 17

Coulter, whose speech on illegal immigration was planned for this evening but was later cancelled by the university over safety concerns, had initially vowed to speak on the campus today regardless, rejecting the offer of a rescheduled date for the event.

However, yesterday Coulter reneged on her vow after the Young America Foundation, a conservative youth organisation which had co-organised the speech and had filed a lawsuit after the university’s “unconstitutional suppression of free speech on campus”, pulled out because of “foreseeable violence” (though it is continuing with its lawsuit).

Alt-Light, Alt-Right: “The show must go on”

Figures in the ‘Alt-Right’ and ‘Alt-Light’ have said they plan to descend on Berkeley regardless of Coulter’s decision not to speak. Gavin McInnes, Rebel Media host and founder of the ‘Western chauvinist’ fraternal organisation ProudBoys, told his followers that after speaking with Coulter he decided that “the show must go on”.

Joining Gavin and his ProudBoys (members of which were involved in recent violent demonstrations in Berkeley and who have the backing of Coulter) will be Kyle Chapman AKA ‘Based Stick Man’:

Chapman was recently arrested after fighting a member of the public while promoting a pro-Trump Berkeley rally. Chapman has recently announced the creation of the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights”, a “tactical defensive arm” of ProudBoys that has the approval of McInnes.

As noted in the above tweet, Lauren Southern, Faith Goldy and Brittany Pettibone will be speaking at the event. Southern is a former Rebel Media contributor, author of the book How Baby Boomers, Immigrants & Islam Screwed my Generation, and was in attendance at the previous violent confrontations at Berkeley between pro-Trump/alt-right/alt-light supporters and anti-fascists.

Goldy is a host on the extreme Rebel Edge and Pettibone, who will be speaking at the ‘Make Cali Great’ celebration of Trump’s first 100 days in office on April 29 (where Chapman will also be speaking), is a vlogger who has promoted the “white genocide” conspiracy theory online.

Defending free speech in whose name?

A tweet from Southern highlights the continued effort by alt-light and alt-right adherents to co-opt the iconic Berkeley free speech movement. The 1960s civil rights and Berkeley free speech activist, Mario Savio, was also co-opted also by alt-light (and ex-Breitbart tech editor) commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, when he announced the name of an award he will give out during his ‘Free Speech Week’ at Berkeley later this year.

The debate around free speech on campuses and beyond has intensified in recent times, and the issues it has raised are vital to address.

However, the Alt-Light and Alt-Right’s attempts at drawing exact parallels between themselves and the 1960s Berkeley free speech movement are mistaken, since across the alt-right and alt-light spectrum are found views – from white nationalism to anti-feminism and much more – whose speech intends for the marginalisation and oppression of others.


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