Last week, a planned talk by Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled at the University of California, Berkeley after a protest turned violent, resulting in arson and property damage. As an alumnus of the university, I wrote about the incident last week, pledging not to donate to my alma mater until free speech was better tolerated on campus.

I must admit that my resolve was slightly tested after a few friends and college classmates commented that perhaps I was being too harsh, blaming students and the administration for a violent incident that was out of their hands. Then, I opened the opinion section of the Daily Californian, Berkeley’s student newspaper, this week.

In an op-ed series entitled “Violence as self-defense” a number of students, community members and rioters defended and even took credit for the mayhem. The titles of their pieces read like they’re straight out of George Orwell’s “1984”: “Violence helped ensure the safety of students,” “Condemning protesters same as condoning hate speech,” “Check your privilege when speaking of protests.”

Here’s a small flavor of the quality of discourse these violence apologists bring to the table:

To Milo: I’m sorry that you were too scared to stand your ground during a routine Berkeley protest. Hopefully, you’ll think twice now about recruiting at my alma mater, where hate speech may be allowed a platform by the administration but will never be tolerated by the student body. Here’s a big fuck you from the descendants of people who survived genocides by killing Nazis and people just like them.

Milo, of course, is of Jewish ancestry. But, I suppose it’s not “hate speech” to accuse a Jew of being a Nazi if he’s conservative.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around how students at the top-ranked public university in the United States could fall for such doublespeak. War is peace at Berkeley if the enemy is “racist,” and freedom is slavery if it allows for unpopular opinions to be heard.

Undoubtedly, there’s a number of factors at play that would motivate upwardly mobile college students to justify violence (or even partake themselves). Some of it may simply be written off to youthful idealism and a false sense of invisibility. Indeed, contrary to the thesis of one particular op-ed, it is a profound act of privilege to feel comfortable in rioting without worrying about potential repercussions.

However, I’d also like to lay the brunt of the blame on critical theory. In the humanities today, students are rewarded for turning conventional wisdom upside down ad absurdum. Calling out individuals and institutions for their “privilege” will almost certainly earn an A. Any concept even remotely associated with the white male patriarchy is undoubtedly suspect, even something like free speech, which protects minority viewpoints.

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As a result, hard concepts like speech and action have become blurred to the point where some students hold so-called “hate speech” in the same category as a physical attack on their bodies.

Just read one student’s justification for countering Milo’s speech with violence:

He was banned from Twitter for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” He outed a trans woman during an appearance at UW Milwaukee, an act that placed this individual’s life in danger. And he had plans to name undocumented students in our community as part of his appearance at UC Berkeley, an act that, in the time of Donald Trump, places our classmates at an even greater risk of being attacked. This is violence. If I know that you are planning to attack me, I’ll do all I can to throw the first punch.

So many students’ brains have been rotted by amorphous concepts like “privilege,” “cultural appropriation” and “hate speech” that don’t stand up to any legal, historical or logical scrutiny. But, the facts don’t matter much anymore, because critical theory encourages these students to embrace their truth.

For some students and community members, their truth on Feb. 1 was that they were physically attacked by the potential words of a neo-Nazi gay Jew, and the only acceptable response was violence.

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What a brave new world we live in.

Casey Given (@CaseyJGiven) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the executive director of Young Voices.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.

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