On the same day conservative author Ann Coulter announced she would not speak to a campus group at the University of California in Berkeley, the New York Times blamed the victim and claimed that conservatives facing violent riots and protests on campuses across the country have no one to blame but themselves.
"Without uttering a word,” reporter Jeremy Peters stated on Wednesday, April 26, Coulter “made herself the latest cause célèbre in the rapidly escalating effort by conservatives to fight liberals on what was once the left's moral high ground over free speech on campus.”
Also in his article, Peters called Coulter “the acid-penned conservative writer” who canceled a planned appearance on Thursday “after the political organizations that invited her rescinded their support over fears of violence.”
“It’s a sad day for free speech,” Coulter said.
Peters also stated:
But across the country, conservatives like her are eagerly throwing themselves into volatile situations like the one in Berkeley, emboldened by a backlash over what many Americans see as excessive political correctness, a president who has gleefully taken up their fight and liberals they accuse of trying to censor any idea they disagree with.
The situation adds up to a striking reversal in the culture wars, with the left now often demanding that offensive content be excised from public discourse and those who promote it boycotted and shunned.
“Berkeley has again become a symbolic flash point,” the Times reporter noted. “The university was not just the cradle of the Free Speech Movement, but also the site of a violent 1969 crackdown that delighted many protest-weary Americans when Ronald Reagan, then California’s governor, ordered the National Guard to move in on student demonstrators.”
“The broader point that conservatives now say they are making resonates far beyond academia, and in many ways echoes some of the most bitter undercurrents of the 2016 presidential election,” Peters stated.
“President Trump’s victory was, to many of his supporters, a defiant uprising against what they saw as a cultural and political elite that told them their values were wrong and their beliefs bigoted,” he continued.
“And Mr. Trump, who has routinely used racially charged controversies and social movements like Black Lives Matter to his political benefit, has leaped to their defense, ready to fan the flames,” the reporter added.
At the time, Trump questioned on Twitter whether the university should have its federal funding revoked.
“Even some liberals say the heavy-handedness by university administrators and students is only reinforcing conservatives’ suspicions, which the left insists are overblown for maximum political potency,” Peters asserted.
“Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist, this week scolded anyone who would shut out Ms. Coulter. ‘What are you afraid of -- her ideas?’ he asked.”
“Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, argued that the controversy only handed Ms. Coulter the big platform she craved,” Peters noted. “If you don’t like it, don’t show up.”
“Unfortunately, Berkeley and other universities have played into a narrative that the right would love to advance,” said Robert B. Reich, a former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton who is now a professor of public policy at Berkeley.
“The narrative assumes a cultural plot against the free expression of right-wing views in which academe, mainstream media -- every facet of the establishment -- is organized against them,” Reich noted.
In an article for the Washington Free Beacon that same day, Staff Writer Alex Griswold stated that one of those "eager conservatives” was political scientist Charles Murray, who was met last month with a violent mob at Middlebury College in Vermont that sent a professor defending him to the hospital.
“Middlebury's political science chair later apologized to the rioters for inviting Murray,” Griswold noted.
“Peters also alluded to the Berkeley riots in early February over the invitation of alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. Rioters caused more than $100,000 in damages to the local community, injuring six people.
“Conservatives on Twitter were displeased with the Times‘ take on the situation,” Griswold stated before quoting Kevin D. Williamson as tweeting: “Oh, geez.” The Times accusation that conservatives deliberately placing themselves in danger is “some shameful stuff.”
Brian Cates joined the debate by sarcastically asking: "When are these f**king Conservatives finally gonna stop causing all this trouble on college campuses by just shutting the f**k up?"
Following the logic of the Times, David Burge posted that the newspaper “endorses the ‘she was wearing a mini skirt’ rape defense.”
James Taranto, an editor for the Wall Street Journal, reminded readers that “this was the same paper that blamed the Tucson and Orlando massacres on Republicans.”
“The university breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday,” Peters noted. However, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks went to extremes in a statement: “This is a university, not a battlefield.”