THE TRUTH ABOUT BERKELEY & ANN COULTER FAQs
Much information is being distributed about Young America’s Foundation and the events at Berkeley this week.
Please note, the university blocked every effort to provide a venue required to sponsor an educational event with Berkeley students.
At no time was there ever a space or lecture time confirmed for Ann to speak. Conservatives shouldn’t be relegated to speaking outside under the threat of violence when numerous liberal speakers are given venues at any time they wish.
We didn’t run. We stepped up and sued Berkeley and we paid for Ann to give a lecture, not just give a brief speech on Sproul Plaza among violent protestors.
We are moving ahead with our lawsuit to protect students First Amendment rights and ensure future conservative speakers do not face these obstacles when speaking at Berkeley.
- Young America’s Foundation’s Statement
- Washington Post Article Highlighting the Foundation’s Stance
- Todd Starnes on Fox News: YAF “battles with words and ideas, not baseball bats and switchblades.”
- Dinesh D’Souza: YAF “is fighting hard to open the doors for free speech.”
- Washington Examiner: In response to Berkeley, Rep. Sean Duffy asks Betsy DeVos to take action on taxpayer-funded campuses
- National Review: Ann Coulter needs to stop attacking the Young America’s Foundation
- The College Conservative: No, YAF didn’t abandon Coulter over UC Berkeley
BridgeCal and the Berkeley College Republicans, students active with Young America’s Foundation, contacted YAF for help bringing in Ann Coulter to speak on campus. YAF is the largest, oldest, and most effective organization sponsoring conservative voices on campus, with a track record of successfully facing down administrators, professors, protestors, and leftist activists hostile to conservative ideas.
The Berkeley students organizing the event did everything right. Ann confirmed a date and a contract was sent to the school. The Berkeley administration had six weeks to prepare and secure a proper venue. They failed to do so.
Administrators used a vague and unwritten high profile speaker policy to force all conservative speakers to give their presentations before 3:00 p.m. when most students are in class. The event could not be advertised in advance, and the venue location is not easily accessible to most students.
The University cites, as its reason for canceling the lecture, its “high-profile speakers” policy. In recent weeks, administrators have used this unwritten policy to cancel events featuring two conservative speakers for YAF—Ms. Coulter and David Horowitz. During the same time period, administrators permitted events featuring leftists Vicente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico, and Maria Echaveste, former advisor and White House Deputy Chief of Staff to President Clinton, to proceed without interference. This discrepancy is telling.
The school then decided, unilaterally, to postpone the event until the fall of 2017, citing “safety concerns.” This decision came with still plenty of time to make adequate arrangements to protect the speaker, campus community, and outside guests.
No! What would change between now and the fall? This was simply a tactic by the Berkeley administrators to delay and derail the event.
YAF demanded that the school provide an adequate venue at the agreed-upon time. The school countered with an offer to hold the speech during what is known as “dead week” (while students are studying for finals). Events that successfully reach a broad cross-section of the campus community take place in the afternoon or evening, on campus. Again, this was not acceptable, and the Berkeley students, working with YAF, refused to agree to these new terms.
YAF has a track record of threatening to do just that, and successfully pressuring campuses to provide adequate venues and security for conservative speakers. Last year, the president of California State University, Los Angeles cancelled a scheduled event with Ben Shapiro just days before the event was due to take place. Shapiro, working with YAF staff and student activists on campus, made plans to appear on campus regardless, and only a few hours before the scheduled start of the event, the president of the university relented and unlocked the venue. However, the administration and some radical Leftist professors had fomented such opposition to the event on campus that most students were prevented for hearing Shapiro’s remarks, due to a large crowd of aggressive protestors. Brave students and a courageous speaker ensured that the event happened anyway, albeit under less than ideal conditions.
These are not new challenges for YAF. We fight these battles every week, standing alongside students and conservative leaders when those entrusted to provide a safe, “tolerant” learning environment and protect free speech rights fail to do so.
Berkeley presents a new situation. No venue or event time was ever approved by the school. There was no event to cancel, since no event in final form ever existed.
On her own and without student involvement, Ann started telling people she would appear at an off-campus event. We told her she should feel free to do so, and we would still pay her for her time, but we were unwilling to put students’ physical safety at risk by sponsoring an open air event where violence was expected. Earlier this week, we hired and flew in three security detail personnel to Berkeley. They confirmed other intelligence we received that there was a heavy domestic terrorist presence and violence should be expected.
We also discovered that the University of California Police Department at Berkeley has an official “stand-down” policy for any situation that develops on campus as long as the situation doesn’t involve the imminent loss of life, allowing the leftist thugs who have terrorized Berkeley’s campus to do so without consequence.
This is an absurd position for the administration to take. Berkeley is a campus with a history of violence. Not an ancient history of violence, but a recent history. It threatens the safety and security of their own students. It runs counter to all free speech law and precedent. And these are not conditions under which YAF would agree to proceed with an event.
They were pretty simple, really:
1. We could not reasonably ensure the safety of YAF students and staff. Unprepared undergraduate students should not be asked to walk into a predictable melee that is likely to result in serious injury and very unlikely to result in conservative ideas being heard by many, or any, of the participants. Ann Coulter herself would be surrounded by professional, private security. Students and other participants would not be afforded the same protections, and it was unfair and unreasonable to ask them to plunge into that environment. There may come a time and place when that is called for, but this was not it. (It’s easy to talk boldly from afar, but who was going to make the call to those young men and women’s families?)
2. Had the circumstances of an impromptu, open-air march onto campus amid violent protests played out as predicted, even with no or minimal serious injury, the results would have been counter-productive. YAF’s goal is to get more conservative voices, more often, on more campuses, including Berkeley. We could always have a walk across Sproul Plaza and have a melee doing so. That has happened twice already this year.
That was never the goal. It relegates conservatives to violent events at best with nothing like the speech venue afforded to those on the Left. It excludes us from where a real exchange of ideas can happen. The goal was to get access to the lecture halls and classrooms like every other viewpoint. A walk across Sproul Plaza will not remove the unconstitutional policies practiced by the Berkeley administration in silencing speakers.
3. Berkeley’s original contention was that the event was too dangerous to hold on campus. Ann’s publicity stunt would have simply proven the point. Furthermore, other leftist administrators would seize on this instance and use it as an excuse to throw up more roadblocks for other conservatives from appearing on campuses.
Again, NO! What we did instead was file a lawsuit in federal court against Berkeley for the school’s unconstitutional suppression of free speech. Again, the ultimate goal is to have the Berkeley administration, and all schools, provide equal protection for conservative speakers. They are not doing this now, and they are in violation of the law. Lawsuits are unpredictable, but this is a strong case, and we are prepared to take this case, and others (this is not the first legal challenge YAF has mounted against a hostile campus), as far as we can. We are not backing down, and have never done so. The challenges we face go well beyond just one event.
We train students to organize campus lectures and promote conservatism on campus. We don’t train them to engage in physical fights with the Left. There may be circumstances under which that may be necessary, but asking students new to our cause, untrained and unprepared, to do so when other, more effective options are available is foolhardy.
And you should be. Ann Coulter’s comments, which are misleading, divisive, and direct fire in all directions, are unfortunate. The lawsuit is about more than just Ann Coulter.
David Horowitz was recently subjected to the same, vague speaker policy as Coulter. Future conservative speakers will face the same restrictions if they aren’t challenged.
Anger should be directed at leftists who are committed to using illegal, immoral, violent tactics to shut down conservative voices and, especially, school administrators who are at best complicit in and at worst materially supportive of these radical Leftists attacks on free speech.
Over the years, YAF has worked with some of the most effective advocates for our ideas, and successfully reached hundreds of thousands of students when the Left has done everything in their power to shut these ideas and these voices out of the campus conversation. The ONLY reason many students have heard from the likes of William F. Buckley, Charlton Heston, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, Walter Williams, Ward Connerly, Michelle Malkin, Dinesh D’Souza, John Stossel, Ben Shapiro, Allen West, and, yes, Ann Coulter, along with many, many others, is that YAF provided the training, resources, and backbone to get these speakers on campus in the face of great opposition. That has not changed now and will never change.