Roughly five years ago on David Letterman’s show, Barack Obama said, “One thing I’ve learned as president is that you represent the entire country.” At the time, he most likely would not have expected to have someone frequently characterized as a “man-baby” succeed him. The events that led up to Gavin McInnes’ speech in the Kimmel Center for University Life on Feb. 2, however, proved Obama’s quote to be frighteningly true. Both the sides of this debacle — McInnes and the College Republicans versus the anti-fascist movement and other protesters — are prime examples of the growing partisanship and irrational thinking and behavior that our president has both embodied and encouraged.
With the majority of NYU students being liberal, the actions of McInnes have been received by most in a similar way. McInnes has a narrow, selfish worldview full of xenophobic thoughts, and he projects them onto the masses in an effort to instigate. Despite being a self-identified Libertarian, he spews a purely conservative agenda focused on hate. His discourse is sophomoric and edgy, and he resorts to over-the-top Islamophobia and the alt-right’s favorite meme term, “cuck.”
Whether you agree with what he says, to stoop to the level of the protestors in front of and in the Kimmel Center would be just as bad as to be a xenophobe. Setting hats on fire in a crowd, pepper-spraying McInnes and interfering with medical and police services are not forms of protest – they are symptoms of intellectual de-evolution. This was a crowd of anti-fascist protesters surrounding an outnumbered Trump supporter and sticking their tongues out at him. He was berated and threatened with assault. After speaking to the Trump supporter, I learned that he is a registered Democrat and the son of Mexican immigrants who is fed up with the Democratic National Convention after it allowed corruption to end the Sander’s campaign.
For people who don’t like fascism, these protesters sure surfaced close to it. Whether you agree with this, the right to free speech allows people to be xenophobic. Being intolerant of anyone on the right — regardless of xenophobic tendencies — to the point of violence and assault is authoritarian and intolerant. You cannot juxtapose violence, political discourse and people who act like children. Just as conservatives should be ashamed that the alt-right is the most prominent representation of conservative ideals, liberals should be ashamed of the
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb 6. print edition. Email Tom Miritello at [email protected]