Liberals, learn from Ben Shapiro at Berkeley and enter enemy territory


In preparation for conservative writer Ben Shapiro, UC Berkeley quickly transformed from a picturesque campus community into a military state. The California college spent a whopping $600,000 towards security. From concrete barriers to armaments of pepper spray, we saw one of the most prestigious campuses in our country go from an American dream into a nightmare.  

Hundreds of people attended the speech by Shapiro, and thousands more streamed it online. Although students vehemently opposed Shapiro coming to campus and even lined the entryway of the university chanting “Speech is violent, we will not be silent.” Shapiro was able to deliver his highly-anticipated message to the Berkeley audience.  

{mosads}In 1964, UC Berkeley became the birthplace of free speech. The designation of being a free speech campus, however, does not discriminate against what some have dubbed “hate speech.”  

This lack of discrimination when it comes to speeches has ushered in speakers that not only agitate crowds but are often viewed as insidious. In February, protests erupted at UC Berkeley ahead of a planned speech by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and resulted in $100,000 worth of damages to the campus. Again, we see right-wing commentators causing chaos and disruption at the birthplace of free speech.  

This leads us to begin to question why UC Berkeley is not only the birthplace of free speech, but has become a breeding ground for political disturbances and upheaval.

While Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos have the right to speak at Berkeley (or any other campus for that matter), what is being missed in all of this is the intent behind bringing right-wing speakers to a predominantly liberal campus. What our country is witnessing is a tidal wave of right-wing provocateurs descending on Berkeley’s campus like ants on hot dogs on a picnic table.

The purpose of these provocateurs is not to educate, but to disrupt the status-quo. Disrupting the status quo is not only a tactic used by Shapiro and Yiannopoulos, but it was also the golden ticket that took Donald J. Trump from 5th Avenue to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

These right-wing provocateurs want to change the landscape of traditional college campuses, infiltrate the minds of their audience to add to their growing base and bring as much attention and controversy as possible to the right-wing agenda. Since Trump was elected, the political playbook has not only been turned upside down, it is wide open and yearning for new participants. The right has found a way to ignite their base through shrewd tactics often eschewed by the left.

The secret weapon used by the right is to infiltrate enemy territory and embrace all the controversy and fanfare that comes with it. In the 2016 presidential election, one of the biggest criticisms of Hillary Clinton was her inability to connect with coal miners and residents of “flyover states.” If the left has any chance of taking back the House in 2018 and the oval office in 2020, they must enter enemy territory.

Those states which have felt forgotten and feel despondent by the democratic party require not just a seat at the table, but an entire chapter in the 2018 playbook. If the Democrats fail to make a connection with those individuals who are ignored because they traditionally vote Republican, not only will the right maintain a firm hold on their base, they will also convert loyalist Democrats.

The incidents at UC Berkeley present best-practices that extend beyond a speech on a college campus. It has given the left insight to the right-wing playbook. What we can see is an agenda that sits at the intersection of disruption and breaking away from the status quo. If the Democrats want to be competitive, they must do want any other team would do when given the playbook of their opponent. Use it against the opponent and play the opponent’s game better than them.

If not, the Democrats risk another four years of Donald J. Trump and his right-wing provocateurs at the helm.

Dr. Wendy Osefo is a political commentator, Democratic strategist, and assistant professor of education at The Johns Hopkins University. She is the former director of Family and Community Engagement for the Obama administration’s Anti-Poverty Initiative, D.C. Promise Neighborhood (DCPNI). Wendy regularly appears on Fox News and TV One as a political analyst. Follow her on Twitter @WendyOsefo.

Tags Ben Shapiro Berkeley, California Breitbart London Conservatism in the United States Donald Trump Freedom of speech Hillary Clinton Milo Yiannopoulos University of California, Berkeley

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