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Even if you live under a rock, this past Sunday’s National Anthem Protest (a different kind of NAP) probably found you because football is politics now and everything is awful. Regardless of your stance, the protest is for some reason important to you and you’re not really sure why when you look with more depth. That’s okay because that’s how it is for most people. No one really wants to mix football and politics. Football is supposed to be something that brings us together based on regional heritage and makes us hate people from other regions in a completely irrational manner for 3 hours on a Sunday, and it’s great. A true American tradition. This hatred and division bring us closer together in a fantastic way, and at the end of the day, we all have a laugh about it (unless you live in Philadelphia, in which case we’re usually throwing things at the wall in frustration). This has, for so many years, been almost devoid of politics. Now we’ve lost that.
The protests have become a hot topic because they’re a very aggressive form of freedom of expression. While they’re not as inflammatory as burning a flag, it hurts many people to see the flag, something they value above so many things as a symbol of the country they love, disrespected by people they have elevated to hero status. While the idea that football players are somehow American heroes is actually a ridiculous concept when examined rationally, it is how they’re viewed by millions of Americans. The flag is our logo, the anthem is our song, and football is our sport. It’s understandable that people are hurt. It’s also understandable that football players are mad at the president for calling them “sons of bitches”. Really, many things would be solved if football and politics just avoided each other. That seems to be too much to ask.
Yet all of this football talk is actually serving a darker purpose at the moment, whether intentionally or not. There is a far more important free speech fight happening right now, and it’s happening in far more important institutions than the NFL. Most of the battle is happening in one specific place, though it is a microcosm of a massive war being fought across this country. UC Berkeley, once a bastion of the free speech movement, is aggressively leading an assault on the right to have an opinion. This specific school is important for a few reasons. Its heritage as a symbol of Free Expression, the fact that it is a public school and therefore unable to deny Free Expression, and its ranking as one of the world’s greatest public universities, all lend to the setting of this town in California being the ultimate battleground for such a debate. Just a couple of weeks ago, the left forced the school and town to pay $600,000 for security so the College Republicans could host Conservative Speaker and journalist Ben Shapiro without the place burning down (again). Things have been bad at Berkeley, but they came to a head on Sunday.
Milo Yiannopoulos, the man who can’t be destroyed, returned to Berkeley after his last visit was cancelled due to violent protests against his largely “libertarian opinions”. Initially, he was set to return with a host of right-wing allies and speakers, and an army of police. UC Berkeley, however, showed its true colors as a fascist left wing (yes, fascism can be left wing) snake pit by maneuvering around its own rules to prevent the event, Free Speech Week, from occurring. In a saga documented on Yiannopoulos’s Instagram Account, UC Berkeley used bureaucratic red tape to make sure that The Berkeley Patriot, a student organization for freedom, was unable to secure the proper permits and security clearances for the event, and thus forced them to cancel the event they had submitted an application for months ago. Yiannopoulos, having put up $65,000 for the event already, was not cowed.
Milo arrived on campus to a sea of like, 30 leftists with nothing better to do. These courageous young souls enlisted the help of the UC Berkeley Campus PD to keep the hundreds of people who wished to see Milo out of Sproul Plaza, where he had resolved to give his speech. The police would not allow Milo’s fans into a public space on a public campus. They would not protect him as a few dozen crybabies screeched about fascism as they tried to force the libertarian to shut up.
Let that sink in, and then we’ll continue.
Milo was denied the ability to use any sound amplification, denied police protection, his audience denied access to a public space, yet he persisted. He took his perch on a slightly elevated surface and began to preach the ideals of freedom to a crowd of college students. As an army of his supporters patiently waited outside the police blockade with signs and posters, Milo delivered his speech to a small crowd of entitled brats who denied their classmates the right to hear that speech. The media refused to tell the real story.
At UC Berkeley, Milo stood out as a true hero for the rights of man, daring to speak his mind in the face of evil. While the country focused on a bunch of millionaires who we’d all rather shut up and play football, one man was standing against literal suppression of free speech by a government institution in the United States of America. It’s time we woke up.