Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) skipped out on President Donald Trump’s historic speech to a joint session of Congress last Tuesday. When speaking at a House Democrat’s caucus meeting beforehand, Waters said she would not be able to control herself during the speech. In an interview with ABC News just after, Waters said “the president is not going to say what I want him to say,” so she would not attend. The “queen of the resistance” has also contended that the president’s team is a “bunch of scumbags.”
I highlight Waters’ choice to refuse to even listen to President Trump because it is a microcosm of what happens on college campuses across the country, where students quite often either disrupt or refuse to consider anybody else’s viewpoints.
This is American politics today.
However, to Waters’ credit, she did not attend and subsequently disrupt the speech. Perhaps she’s saving that act for President Trump’s post-re-election speech.
DePaul College Democrats President Jack McNeil wrote an op-ed in this publication last week arguing College Republicans (CRs) have refused to have a “productive dialogue” and have apparently been “trolled” by media personality and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. McNeil claimed that CRs consistently “chose provocation over substance,” that conservatives should “join the real world.”
I have consistently defended Yiannopoulos over the past few months after his appearance at DePaul. I was on stage when a group of militant agitators hijacked the event, unable to hold themselves together the way Waters so courageously did. I was also present outside the event, essentially acting as a bodyguard for Yiannopoulos. I watched a mob threaten my close friend and DePaul CRs’ President Nicole Been, chanting “F*** Nicole Been!” In the days after the Yiannopoulos event, a group of CRs were surrounded and screamed at by hostile students while minding their own business on the Quad. On the day after Trump’s victory, DePaul contacted Been and offered her round the clock security, concerned that she would be violently attacked.
My point in saying this is simply that the claims McNeil makes are not a one-way street. Conservatives on campus are concerned about free speech and student civil liberties, because, unlike leftist students on campus, they actually have to worry about being attacked for their beliefs. And yet apparently, we are the ones hindering a “productive dialogue.” Perhaps leftist privilege has blinded leftist students to this reality.
However, as McNeil says, Yiannopoulos is a troll. He’s a comedian, but comedians are funny because their humor is rooted in truth. Perhaps much of what Yiannopoulos says is not true at DePaul, but in the real world, third-wave feminism is bad, multiculturalism is a sham and social justice is not actual justice. Yiannopoulos has simply given those ideas the ridicule they deserve.
Indeed, Yiannopoulos and those like him serve a vital role in our society. Former Breitbart Editor and Yiannopolous colleague John Nolte put it aptly, “bottom line: If you are not being shocked, offended or insulted, you are not living in a free society. And if you are okay with that, you are either a fascist or a slave. God bless the provocateurs.”
None of this is to say the Yiannopoulos statements unearthed last week were good. They were bad, and were rightly condemned across the board. The American Conservative Union was, oddly enough, right to disinvite Yiannopoulos from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I myself do not agree with Yiannopoulos on everything. It is important for him to take time to reflect on what has happened and address it. If he is the person I have known him to be, a man who despite his “trolly” nature has always been incredibly kind and helpful to me and our group, he will come out better for it.
With all that said, Yiannopoulos is not the face of the movement. McNeil argues that by inviting Yiannopoulos “conservatives traded quality of character and value sets(…)for racist trolling and ratings.” This is silly. One speaker garnering some publicity does not a whole movement make. Not even close. Yiannopoulos certainly speaks to a few issues for conservatism, but the ideology as a whole remains.
The real movement McNeil claims has disappeared is the one that just won the presidency, while also retaining the House and the Senate. It’s the one that is going to put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, repeal the disastrous Obamacare and reform our broken tax code. It’s the one I saw at CPAC two weeks ago, where thousands of people, predominantly young people (and over 30 DePaul students, I might add), gathered in Washington D.C. to hear from many of our elected officials, revel in our victories, but also trade ideas and continue to develop our worldviews. It’s the one I see at DePaul, where, despite Yiannopoulos apparently trolling us, our membership has nearly doubled in his wake.
The contrast with the Democratic Party is stark. At every level of government, Democrats are in disarray. The same weekend of CPAC, there were protests because Keith Ellison (D-MN), accused of being one of the most anti-semitic, a Muslim brotherhood sympathizer and Louis Farrakhan acolyte, was not elected DNC chairman. They made him Vice-Chairman instead. And yet, the mainstream media would have people believe the pro-Israel Trump administration is anti-Semitic. Indeed, Democrats have created guides to heckle and harass Congressmen at town halls, while Anti-fascist parades around campuses attack anyone who might even slightly disagree with them. Only one party here is and has clearly been a danger to productive dialogue.
The truth is, while the left is having an identity crisis, the conservative movement is alive and well. Yiannopoulos has simply been a part of this organization, a useful tool in mobilizing students who have been dismayed by the leftist propaganda so pervasive on college campuses.
Democrats accusing Republicans of losing their values should take a look in the mirror; the illiberal left has taken over their party, while Republicans hold more elected seats than at any time since before the Great Depression. Democrats should actually have the productive dialogue they supposedly revere, and perhaps win some of those arguments for once. Of late, it has not gone too well.
John Minster is the president of the DePaul College Republicans and Vice Chair of DePaul’s Young Americans for Freedom Chapter.