The Slatest

Trump Threatens to Pull Federal Funding From Berkeley Because of Protest Against the Alt-Right

People protesting controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos take to the streets on Wednesday in Berkeley, California.

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump tweeted a threat to cut off the University of California–Berkeley’s federal funding over violent protests that prevented alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on Wednesday evening.

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Trump’s tweet, once again, may have been inspired by a Fox News segment.

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UC–Berkeley, one of the top research universities in the world, receives $370 million in research funding annually from the federal government, with much of it going to the study of medicine, engineering, energy, and the natural sciences. Berkeley did nothing to foment the disruption of Yiannopoulos’ event and in fact coordinated the provision of space and security to the Berkeley College Republicans, who invited him. In statements Wednesday evening, campus officials condemned the night’s violence. From Berkeley News:

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Campus officials said they condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.

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[…] Campus officials added that they regret that the threats and unlawful actions of a few have interfered with the exercise of First Amendment rights on a campus that is proud of its history and legacy as the home of the Free Speech Movement.

In an earlier message to the Berkeley campus community, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks made it clear that while Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to those of the campus, UC Berkeley is bound by the Constitution, the law and the university’s values and Principles of Community, which include the enabling of free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective.

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Campus officials say that about 150 nonstudents in the crowd of about 1,500 protesters were responsible for most of the night’s violence, which included the assault of event attendees, the setting of fires, and the vandalism of the Student Union and businesses in the area including a Bank of America and a bagel shop.

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Yiannopoulos, tech editor of Breitbart, an alt-right publication formerly run by Trump adviser Steve Bannon, has been visiting campuses around the country as part of his Dangerous Faggot tour. At a stop at the University of Washington on Jan. 20, a Yiannopoulos supporter shot a protester.* At a stop at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in December, Yiannopoulos ridiculed a trans student who had sued the university for discrimination and was later targeted for harassment by Yiannopoulos supporters.

Yiannopoulos has made a career out of facile, predictable bigotry. In the wake of the Orlando, Florida,  shootings, for instance, Yiannopoulos, who is gay, decried America’s Muslim problem in a Breitbart piece:

America has a Muslim problem. Notice my wording carefully here. It isn’t a radical Muslim problem. It isn’t an ISIS problem, an Al Qaeda problem, a Taliban problem, or any of the Muslim terror groups that have sprung up in 2016. The terror attack on Saturday is an expression of mainstream Muslim values.

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He followed a few months later, in September, with a speech at the University of Central Florida called “10 Things I Hate About Islam”:

Muslims think they own women to such a degree, that they think women who wear shirts above their ankles in European countries are fair game to be raped. That’s real rape culture, right there — not the bogus one on college campuses.

[…]Hordes of homophobic Muslims are being imported to the west so they can shoot up gay nightclubs, and the left says nothing — except to blame it on “toxic masculinity.”

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The whiny gay leftists who cry when I say something offensive but are silent in the face of an existential threat are the self-haters. They hate themselves so much they want to commit suicide — suicide by Islamic immigration.

It was this kind of speech that elevated Yiannopoulos’ profile enough to secure a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster and has evidently thrilled College Republican chapters across the country enough to invite him to speak on campus. As of Thursday morning, no further tour stops are listed on his website.

*Correction, Feb. 2, 2017: This post originally misstated that a shooting at a Yiannopoulos event occurred on Jan. 25. It occurred on Jan. 20.

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