Matthew Hoy

Why the Women’s March and Yiannopoulos protests aren’t so different

Columnist Matthew Hoy
Columnist Matthew Hoy

When I read the first two sentences of Joe Tarica’s column last weekend, I thought he was going to pre-empt this column that I had planned to write.

Tarica, unsurprisingly, praised the about 10,000-person-strong Women’s March that occurred the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated. Then, in the next sentence, warned that “next time a huge crowd gathers here, it won’t be peaceful; it will be divisive rather than unifying, and someone may get hurt.”

Thankfully, no one got hurt. But, what Tarica failed to mention was that the two crowds he described — the defiant progressives at the Women’s March, and the angry, threatening protesters outside the Spanos Theater at Cal Poly, where Milo Yiannopoulos spoke last week — would likely consist largely of the same type of people.

Some of the same members of the crowd that filled Mitchell Park in downtown San Luis Obispo and marched “in peaceful solidarity for the causes of equality and respect,” wrote Tarica, just over a week later were outside a barricaded theater calling for a gay, Jewish, Catholic, Trump supporter to be silenced.

Two weeks ago, at the Women’s March, thousands of people delighted in the fact that there were thousands of people in a very blue city in a purple county who all agreed that an orange guy shouldn’t be president.

It’s easy to have a peaceful atmosphere when everyone there agrees with you.

At the Women’s March, the crowd chanted: “This is what democracy looks like!”

Outside the building where Yiannopoulos was speaking, the protesters chanted: “This is what democracy looks like!”

At the Women’s March: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, (insert preferred catchphrase here), has got to go.”

At Cal Poly: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, (insert preferred catchphrase here), has got to go.”

Some protesters, following the three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle), even had the same signs they’d used a week earlier at the Women’s March.

At Cal Poly, more than 100 law enforcement officers, temporary fencing and metal detectors were necessary to keep people safe from the crowd that touts its tolerance of all colors, creeds, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities.

One person posted a sign on the temporary fencing that read: “No Ban. No Wall. Just Love.”

The protesters shouted: “No Milo. No KKK. No fascist USA.” And: “Kill every Nazi.”

(Although I’m generally in favor of Nazi killing in time of war, I suspect that the protesters’ righteous antagonism to national socialism wouldn’t really be limited to nationalists or would include any actual socialists. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is safe.)

Tarica’s column likened Yiannopoulos’ mere presence in San Luis Obispo as the “recipe for a riot.” But it wasn’t Yiannopoulos’ fans that were in danger of rioting. It wasn’t his supporters who were going to be incited by the British provocateur to take to the streets and shoot pepper spray into the eyes of their opponents. Or beat their foes unconscious with metal pipes.

Instead, it was people who share Tarica’s and this paper’s editorial board’s politics.

The pro-Milo/pro-Trump side aren’t the ones rioting or trying to silence their political opponents. It’s the other side. This violence and anti-free speech rhetoric is coming from the political left, and some substantial part of that violence and calls to silence the right come from people who voted for Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein.

It wasn’t Yiannopoulos’ supporters who surrounded the venue at UC Davis last month and cowed university administrators there into canceling the event.

It wasn’t fans of Yiannopoulos who, just 24 hours after his Cal Poly appearance, tore down fences, smashed windows, lit fires, threw rocks and launched fireworks at the building where the Breitbart editor was slated to speak at UC Berkeley.

As The Federalist website co-founder Sean Davis noted on Twitter that night, “[I]f you’re breaking glass at night because a Jew is speaking, you’re not protesting fascism. You are fascism.”

It was people who identify with a group that Tarica praised back in 2011, the Occupy Movement, who last Wednesday made it clear they want to start a war.

The political left and far left might want to reconsider that course. As has been pointed out many times, the left sees firearms as very bad things and actively discourages their ownership and becoming competent in using them.

You really don’t want to start a war when the other side has the vast majority of the guns.

Conservative columnist Matthew Hoy is a former reporter, editor and page designer. His column appears in The Tribune every other Sunday, in rotation with liberal columnist Tom Fulks. Read Hoy’s blog at Follow him on Twitter @Hoystory.