Above is the logo used by groups aligned with the antifascist ideology in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United States of America.
Charter Oak High School

Commentary: Radicalism rising

On April 15, members of the radical right gathered in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley to protest for the freedom of speech. The protest was organized in response to the cancellation of a speaking engagement from Ann Coulter, a social and political commentator supported by the alt-right.

The cancellation follows a trend of cancellations that have occurred on campus in response to the radical right’s political and social views, many of which are considered to be racist or sexist. However, at the core, it is somewhat concerning to see what was the epicenter of the free speech movement during the ’60s deny speakers to present on campus for their opinions and beliefs. It seems relative truth is rearing its ugly head without absolutes to determine what is ultimately right or wrong.

Independent journalists at NPR member stations are having similar troubles determining how to ensure the First Amendment rights of radical interviewees without allowing hateful rhetoric to go unchecked. Ideally, journalists wish that these interviews could go on air live, without edit.

However, some find that the interview cannot be conducted without the interviewee hijacking control of air time to fulfill their inflammatory objectives and gain supporters for movements that are less than considerate for certain ethnic and social groups.

However, where is the line drawn? It can be argued that in today’s day and age free speech has become as politically polarizing as gun legislation. The fights that occurred during the protests in April are evidence of the tumultuous nature of the relationship between the left and the right.

The inflammatory nature of the alt-right movement has given rise to an equally radical left movement known as ANTIFA, an abbreviated form of anti-fascist action. Followers of the group attended the protest, which was a pro-Trump rally, in order to protest against Trump and his supporters, both of which they believe are fascist in nature.

Ironically, this self-proclaimed, anti-fascist group appeared in a sort of uniform, many members robed in black and red with masks or scarves covering their faces, and many intended to incite violence against Trump supporters.

The fights were quelled, though rather slowly according to attendees, and ended in 21 arrests and 12 injuries. Yet, many ANTIFA protesters felt there was still unfinished business and some radical leftists are continuing to garner support to “drive fascists off campus.”

However, radicalism does not reign supreme. Members of University of Berkeley’s Cal Berkeley Democrats club frown upon the actions of the radical left. Cal Berkeley Democrats’ president, Caiden Nason, stated that the club’s members have become jaded with outsiders attempting to make Berkeley the center of political unrest.

It is possible that the current volatile political nature of Berkeley may affect students’ choices in university. However, senior Sharon Lau looks at the situation from an optimistic perspective.

“I have been paying attention to the radical movement in the area, but currently I am not extremely concerned about my safety in the future. I would like to get involved in freely expressing one’s opinions, but I think violence and hatred are definitely not the right solutions and methods in a sophisticated society,” said Lau.

Although politics may polarize the world, it appears that  today’s youth are seeking refuge from the onslaught of radicalism dominating the media. Whether California or America for that matter, remains a political battle field, remains up to the citizens.

1 Comment

  • Reply unclesmrgol May 25, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Where should the line be drawn? The answer of course is in the nature of freedom of speech. Each person has the right to speak right up until their speech deliberately interferes with that of another. Perhaps the best example is the press, where a newspaper can be an analogue for speech. Each newspaper publisher controls their venue (the press which prints their newspapers) — they have the right to publish that which they care to publish, and a right to publish or not (if that is their will) that with which they are in disagreement. As they sell or give away (as is their wish) newspaper, no person who opposes the content of the newpapers has the right to destroy them in order to prevent them from being read by interested persons.

    The best statement came from the President of the California State University at Fresno, where a pro-abortion professor ordered students from his 8AM class to go about the University erasing chalk statements on the sidewalks which were put there by pro-life students. The persons writing the statements on the sidewalk had obtained permits by asserting that the chalks was erasable and would do no damage to University property. Up until the professor and his retinue arrived, the messages were unscathed by any passers-by. The professor claimed that he and his students were merely exercising their own freedom of speech when they scuffed out the chalked lettering on the pavement, because the markings were not done in a putative “free speech zone” on the campus. President Joseph Castro, speaking to CNN, had this to say about the issue, which makes all the points above and then some: “Free speech on campus is not limited to a ‘free speech zone’ or any other narrowly defined area,” he said. “Those disagreeing with the students’ message have a right to their own speech, but they do not have the right to erase or stifle someone else’s speech under the guise of their own right to free speech.”

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