Expert’s advice: Don’t engage with the alt-right on campus

September 20, 2017

The alt-right is laying a trap for Berkeley students during next week’s planned “Free Speech Week,” a writer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alabama-based anti-hate group, told students and administrators Tuesday night.

The event, organized by the campus’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, comes ahead of a series of student-sponsored events next Sunday through Wednesday that are expected to bring right-wing speakers to campus for noon and evening rallies, although the exact plans still remain unclear. The list of speakers being circulated, though not all confirmed, includes YouTube personality Milo Yiannopoulos and conservative writer David Horowitz.

While many students are eager to protest the speakers, Ryan Lenz, the law center reporter, encouraged them to be thoughtful in their response.

“This is a group of people that wants to piss you off; this is a group of people that wants to trigger you, as they say” Lenz told the crowd of roughly 100 people in the Multicultural Community Center. “This is a group that calls you all little snowflakes; this is a group that comes from trollish environments online that does things for the lolz, for the giggles and the laughs. They are coming at you with the intent of making something uncomfortable for you, and they do it really well.”

An argumentative, even violent, response to the speakers would give Yiannopoulos exactly the kind of coverage on Fox News he is hoping for, Lenz contended.

“You should make your presence known, just as they do,” he added. “But don’t engage them.”

Lenz encouraged students to read the law center’s guide to responding to the alt-right on campus.

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