Mario Savio Spins in His Grave as Berkeley Cancels Ann Coulter's Speech

Though I'm no fan of her politics, I believe most Americans recognize the name of Ann Coulter:

...but I suspect that less than 10% remember Mario Savio:

From September through  December of 1964 Savio and a dozen other students at the University of California at Berkeley organized protests that became known as the Free Speech Movement, insisting that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom.  

On December 2, between 1,500 and 4,000 students went into Sproul Hall as a last resort in order to re-open negotiations with the administration on the subject of restrictions on political speech and action on campus.  Among other grievances was the fact that four of their leaders were being singled out for punishment. The demonstration was orderly; students studied, watched movies, and sang folk songs. Joan Baez was there to lead in the singing, as well as lend moral support. "Freedom classes" were held by teaching assistants on one floor, and a special Channukah service took place in the main lobby. On the steps of Sproul Hall, Mario Savio gave a famous speech:

... But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be — have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean — Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings! ... There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

At midnight, Alameda County deputy district attorney Edwin Meese III telephoned Governor Edmund Brown, Sr, asking for authority to proceed with a mass arrest. Shortly after 2 a.m. on December 4, 1964, police cordoned off the building, and at 3:30 a.m. began the arrest. Close to 800 students were arrested, most of which were transported by bus to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, about 25 miles away. They were released on their own recognizance after a few hours behind bars. About a month later, the university brought charges against the students who organized the sit-in, resulting in an even larger student protest that all but shut down the university.

After much disturbance, the University officials slowly backed down. By January 3, 1965, the new acting chancellor, Martin Meyerson (who had replaced the resigned Edward Strong), established provisional rules for political activity on the Berkeley campus. He designated the Sproul Hall steps an open discussion area during certain hours of the day and permitting tables. This applied to the entire student political spectrum, not just the liberal elements that drove the Free Speech Movement.

Most outsiders, however, identified the Free Speech Movement as a movement of the Left. Students and others opposed to U.S. foreign policy did indeed increase their visibility on campus following the FSM's initial victory. In the spring of 1965, the FSM was followed by the Vietnam Day Committee, a major starting point for the anti-Vietnam war movement.

In 1966 there was a substantial voter backlash against the individuals involved in the Free Speech Movement. Ronald Reagan won an unexpected victory in the fall of 1966 and was elected Governor of California.  He then directed the UC Board of Regents to dismiss UC President Clark Kerr because of the perception that he had been too soft on the protesters. The FBI had kept a secret file on Kerr. Reagan had gained political traction by campaigning on a platform to "clean up the mess in Berkeley".  The rest has pretty much run through the fabric of protest in contemporary American History.

Now in an ironic twist, UC Berkley officials sent the Berkeley College Republicans a letter Tuesday, canceling an appearance by Anne Coulter because campus police had determined they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event: "We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue," said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. "Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully." - Ann Coulter vows to speak at Berkeley despite cancellation

It's an ironic hundred and eighty degree spin on the Free Speech Movement that must have poor old Mario spinning in his grave.

Views: 314

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 23, 2017 at 9:36am

JMac- you know from previous comments going back some time now that I have not just enjoyed your recollections of the 60s and 70s, particularly in California, and have, through my own reading of them, seen their accuracy and how the jibe entirely with the herstorical record as it were. That said, it is now 100 Days in and the OS crew may remember two old guys named MS and Ben Sen who spent November 16 begging you all to stop with the Far Left flirting which would have stopped the current emergency state. I did not know he knew Mario, Ben is older than I, but, I have been protesting at Berkeley for 50 years now myself, including having Reagan's goon squad kill another kid right next to us at People's Park. Question based on my own experience ... would you expect Noam Chomsky to be welcomed in Alabama? How about if he went right into Confederate AG Sessions home neighborhood and started sharing his truth and wisdom? I mean, would the Klan just stand by doing nothing? You all seem to not understand Berkeley at all, it is NOT a place any Republican Lies and Propaganda will be tolerated, ever. I just took a shot at the Far Left but, they are not wussies and 2 weeks ago they went toe to toe with the Central Valley Nazi Crackers. They will never stop. Never. Going to Berkeley will never be made OK for corporatist scum. Never.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on April 23, 2017 at 9:51am

Maui, I fully suspect that Coulter's appearance is an act of provocation and I fully expect that where or whenever she speaks there will be open protests by all kinds of folks at the campus and city of Berkeley.  That is the double edged sword of the First Amendment.  I just couldn't allow the irony of the position of University's administration pass without comment.  Thanks for reading and commenting.

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 23, 2017 at 9:56am

Welcome, but, the point remains- she, Milo, Tucker, Bill O, Sean-o, all the profiteers who fleece the credulous saps, born-every-day-suckers and died in the wool haters who make up the Right Wing idiocracy, fool no one in the most educated part of the Earth, and so so-called Free Speech runs into the societal equivalent of setting the theater ablaze. I was just there a couple weeks ago, and so were others who congregate here. I triple-dog guarantee that there is NO CHANCE of sanctioned hate speech going off at Sproul. It.Will.Not.Happen.

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 24, 2017 at 8:09am

Saw a news story on this to start the week, interview with the Young Repuke campus rep. He looked, in a word, scared. Not confident in the slightest. Reminded me of Trump at that AA Church in Michigan during the primary. Made a limp argument he wasn't for Milo and avoided, of course, the whole truth of the matter which is you CANNOT bring stupidity like talk of trickle down into Berkeley and expect to get away with it. Again, looks very gloom for our peroxide friend's hate mongering opp, and they are now going to try and litigate- no matter, the Black Bloc could care less or if anything it will piss them off even more, which is already an awful lot.


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