Hayden Williams, attacked on the UC Berkeley campus in mid-February while tabling for Turning Point USA, recently wrote about his experience in USA Today. The assault was not only an attack on conservative values but an attack on freedom of speech.
Williams’ experience is not few-and-far-between: Turning Point USA chapters across the country experience incidents like this frequently. As Williams states,
“I’ve seen the intolerance and hate toward conservatives on our campuses with my own eyes, and the only difference between what happened to me on Feb. 19 and every other day is that the event was caught on video.”
“Conservative students across the country have suffered verbal and physical assault, social ostracism and even academic persecution for voicing their opinions on political topics,” states Williams. Turning Point USA, along with Williams’ employer, the Leadership Institute, fight daily to combat the literal fascism of the ones who claim to be fighting fascism.
Just when the irony could not get worse, “the message that provoked my attacker was our sign that read ‘Hate Crime Hoaxes Hurt Real Victims’,” said Williams. “The irony is that the sign was intended to warn of the danger of disregarding facts and jumping to judgment in an effort to confirm a narrative our feelings tell us is true.”
Williams’ assailant was most likely prompted by the culture surrounding UC Berkeley – a university disconnected from truly letting students “grow personally and intellectually — not only through textbook and classroom learning but also by exchanging ideas, debating tough topics, and being challenged to defend their views,” says Williams.
The Berkeley environment has always been anti-conservative, explains Williams, citing multiple instances of conservative speakers being shut down and rioted against on campus. America’s society may never move forward if this culture spreads beyond the quad:
“Progress depends on the freedom of the human person to develop ideas and voice them. And we’re all better when this intellectual growth happens. The battle to protect free speech is one of the most important culture battles facing our nation today.”
Turning Point USA activists, such as Williams, must continue to fight back against this discrimination with unflagging validity. Many acts may go unnoticed, but no act goes unthankful. Williams – and thousands of other young politicos – understand the struggle and importance of this mission:
“There are so many students across the country fighting for their right to free speech. They don’t do it for recognition; they do it because they understand how imperative this human right is and are willing to defend it.”
Just after the assault, Turning Point USA continued tabling on UC Berkeley’s campus and Charlie Kirk, even made an appearance to encourage the brave activists.