Once again, Republican and other right-aligned students at UC Berkeley are upping the ante in booking speakers or pretending to book speakers that the general student population will find abhorrent, and as was rumored last month, they say they've confirmed fired White House staffer and Breitbart guy Steve Bannon for the planned Free Speech Week events later this month. The East Bay Express brings the news via the right-wing campus group/news outlet the Berkeley Patriot that Bannon has allegedly accepted their invitation to come speak, and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who seems to be the main force behind Free Speech Week, confirmed it as well.
The LA Times picked up the news, in which the group claims that Bannon will deliver "short remarks" on the final day of the week's events, which are set to begin on September 24.
Speaking to campus officials, Politico casts doubt on the announcement, noting via assistant vice chancellor for communications Dan Mogulof that the Berkeley Patriot is a group of five to ten people, and they've yet to complete any of the "critical steps" to secure venues for Free Speech Week something Yiannopoulos first announced back in April, and more recently seemed to have gotten Ann Coulter on board for as well.
Yiannopoulos insisted in an email to Politco, "Ann, Steve and I will be speaking on the final night, Sept 27, in Zellerbach Hall on campus. [Breitbart News editor in chief] Alex Marlow will also appear on stage the same night." There are also, allegedly, some 20 other speakers they plan to invite, despite the university saying they know nothing about this so far.
In a separate statement to the East Bay Express, Yiannopoulos writes, "Uncle Steve was the force behind Trump’s election victory and much of his initial policymaking. Nothing could be better for the leftists who oppose Trump so vehemently than a lesson in the logic behind Trump’s actions, direct from the architect of his policies."
Yiannopoulos, who was kicked off of Twitter last year and left his job as tech editor at Breitbart, appears to have this new website where he posted the following provocative "ad" for Bannon's appearance, along with the headline, "Bannon Infiltrates Berkeley."
I would surely love to ignore this latest bluster and assume, much like Coulter's planned appearance at the end of the last academic year, and the recent thrown-together right-wing rally in San Francisco that would have likely been attended by a grand total of 10 people and thousands of counter-protesters, that this will all come to nothing. These stunts are, of course, all about the reaction, and about creating panic at the university around security so that the alt-right can continue to bang the drum of free speech at the home of the Free Speech Movement. (It should be noted that Coulter ultimately backed out of her April event because she found out there was no money to pay her. She instead took a gig with a Republican group in Modesto that paid her $25,000.)
But we can, no doubt, look forward to several weeks of headlines about this. So brace yourselves.