The anti-free speech protesters had one goal in mind Tuesday evening: shutting down Michael Johns, a conservative activist and co-founder of the Tea Party. In that respect, these protesters failed miserably as Johns refused to back down from their loud wailing. That alone is a cause for celebration.
Invited to speak on campus by the Cornell Political Union, Johns gave a 45 minute speech explaining why Trump won the presidency. He touched upon a frustration with free trade, burgeoning debts, a failing healthcare system, rising inflation and unregulated immigration as chief factors in propelling Trump to the White House with the final nail in the coffin being Clinton representing a continuation of these problems if she was to be elected. He saw the core of Trump’s support as “the forgotten men and women,” an archetype of middle America left in the dust by a corrupt political and economic elite.
Johns further explained that Trump’s victory also stemmed from how he was an unorthodox candidate, one that the common people could relate to. “For the first time,” Johns stated, “there was a candidate who was not a product of Washington, who was not a product of that system, and acknowledged some things that had not appeared to have been acknowledged by Republican candidates.” According to Johns, Trump’s background and his characteristic of unapologetically addressing the average workers’ problems with a brash tone, which Johns noted was something McCain and Romney significantly lacked in their runs, resonated well with these “forgotten men and women” and thus granted him their trust.
Throughout the speech, protesters outside the door interrupted Johns by screaming inane chants demanding that the speech end. Such chants included “no safe space for white supremacy” and “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” but the one that stood out the most was the humorous yet threatening “open that door!” First of all, why should organizers listen to people whose main goal is to shut down their events?
Second, the spectacle proved that the controlling of borders actually works. Just as nation states use walls to keep out people trying to gain illegal entry, this event used doors and a police presence to keep out undesirables obsessed with destroying it. And finally, the Political Union offered a student debate on Johns’ speech at the end. If these protesters truly wanted to try and counter his message, they could have politely attend the event, respectfully listen to his speech, and then civilly participate in the impromptu debate.
Of course, the fact that the Political Union required an expensive police escort to protect the event is a damning statement on freedom in the marketplace of ideas in Academia. That said, it is indeed admirable that they succeeded in hosting this event in spite of last minute hikes in security fees.
In closing, we are not tired of winning and are pleased to see what remains of the political center understanding the far-left’s obsession with authoritarian power. Those on the far-left are convinced that their opponents are immoral, evil and thus deserving of zero political rights whatsoever. This ideology lost last night. These protestors were marginalized in their attempts to deny Michael Johns a platform. The power they had to drown out Rick Santorum and silence Milo Yiannopoulos through riots is eroding as more and more people in Academia are embracing the diversity of thought. In Johns’ own words as the protesters lost their steam: “In a free society, our strength is rooted in the fact that we have ideas that vary.”
We are confident the extreme far-left will continue to lose their power as more right-of-center speakers are invited on campus. They will become increasingly desperate and angry as they fail to shut down speakers. Consequently, they will create a feedback loop of tarnishing the left’s image in the perspective of the political center. As defenders of the First Amendment and supporters of individual thought, we will do our part to help ensure that right-leaning speakers will always have a voice at Cornell. Last night was a victory, one that should be capitalized upon.
Matt Haro contributed to this article