Saturday, September 14

Bruin Republicans to continue to host potentially controversial speakers

Bruin Republicans has invited several notable conservative commentators to speak at UCLA,
 including Dennis Prager, a radio talk show host and founder of website Prager University.
 (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin)

Bruin Republicans has invited several notable conservative commentators to speak at UCLA, including Dennis Prager, a radio talk show host and founder of website Prager University. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated on May 17 at 6 p.m.

Bruin Republicans hosted numerous conservative speakers this school year, despite backlash against similar speakers at UCLA and other campuses.

Speaker events have always been a part of Bruin Republicans’ programming, said Alexis Moran, president of Bruin Republicans. On May 9, the club hosted Dennis Prager, a conservative talk show host and founder of website Prager University.

However, recent controversies around speakers who discuss contentious topics relating to undocumented immigrants, police officers and free speech have sparked protests.

For example, Milo Yiannopoulos, a British media personality who supports far-right political ideologies and a former editor at right-wing news site Breitbart, cancelled an appearance at UCLA partially due to threats of potential violence from protest groups and the inability of the club to meet his demands.

Student protesters also disrupted a talk titled “An Illegal Immigrant Killed My Child” by Sabine Durden, whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in an accident. She also toured with President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.

College Republican organizations at other universities have had similar responses.

In a case that made national news, Ann Coulter had to cancel an appearance at the UC Berkeley, after the university said it could not accommodate her in part due to threats of violence.

People also protested against Yiannopoulos speaking at UC Berkeley, by destroying campus property and throwing rocks at police officers.

Despite the controversy and protest, Moran said Bruin Republicans invites conservative speakers of all types, even those with more controversial views or stances.

“We’ll bring speakers – we don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say, but part of our membership will. It’s important for us to keep intellectual diversity within our club.”

Moran said Bruin Republicans usually tries to host at least one major speaker per quarter, such as Charlie Kirk, Steve Forbes and Heather McDonald. The club has also hosted smaller speaker events with local assembly members, speakers from conservative interest groups such as the California Rifle & Pistol Association and local attorneys from free speech organizations.

Moran said during election season, Bruin Republicans invited local and state representatives to educate its members about candidate positions. However, outside of election season, Bruin Republicans does not have a set formula to find speakers, she added.

“Sometimes the speakers will reach out to us, or sometimes we will reach out to them because of their popularity in the conservative movement amongst millennials,” she said.

Moran said one way the club invites speakers is by reaching out to them individually. For example, Bruin Republicans directly contacted Kirk, founder and executive director of a conservative youth advocacy group called Turning Point USA, to speak next week. Bruin Republicans has also reached out to organizations to sponsor its speaker events.

Some students said they attended Bruin Republicans’ latest event because they were familiar with Prager’s work and were interested in hearing him speak live.

Emma Gale, a first-year applied mathematics student, said she attended the event because she used to listen to Prager on the radio in middle school. She added Prager’s talk was her first Bruin Republicans event, and she might attend future events focusing on election candidates.

Alex Jiminez, a UCLA alumnus, said he came to listen to Prager speak because he read a lot on Prager in the past and was interested in attending Prager’s event in person. He added this is also the first Bruin Republicans event he’s attended.

“I’ve read a lot from the authors that are usually featured by Prager University,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to come see an actual live speech given by Dennis Prager.”

Jiminez said he would be interested in attending future Bruin Republicans events featuring influential conservative speakers.

Even with the backlash from some campus groups, Moran said Bruin Republicans will likely continue hosting conservative speakers for the foreseeable future, and that if students want to protest, the group hopes they will do so peacefully.

“We respect everyone’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and believe that peaceful protesting falls under all American citizens’ freedom of speech,” Moran said.

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  • Dr_Crowley

    Since when is “free speech” a contentious issue? What a retarded thing to say!

  • Doc_Political

    Having and exercising free speech should not equal tarnishing your reputation and claim to be a serious participant in political discourse. Steve Forbes is a serious person who can speak intelligently about ideas, and the Bruin Republicans do themselves and the campus community a service by bringing him to speak. On the other hand, people like Yiannopoulos and Coulter are professional trolls; their gimmick is saying outrageous, low-level insults — devoid of any intellect worthy a university audience — for the sake of selling books and collecting more speaking fees. The Bruin Republicans may cherish the ability to play victim when the inevitable protests happen, but it comes at the cost of their reputation.

    • garyfouse

      Wrong. When the left reacts by violently shutting down an event, it is their reputation that suffers.

      • Doc_Political

        I’m not wrong. Both things are correct. College Republicans tarnish their reputation when they invite vulgar speakers whose sole purpose is to troll, and the Left suffers when they object to free speech — especially in violent or otherwise bullying ways. Consider the possibility that this isn’t a matter of Left v Right (on which you have to take a side and engage in “what-about-ism”), but rather a possibility for all students to engage in intelligent and respectful discourse.

        • garyfouse

          Ask yourself which side is it that tries to disrupt, shout out or shut down speakers. It is almost always the left.

          I watched Ann coulter speak at UC Irvine without incident. It is true she takes no prisoners and delights in insulting her opponents. But can the left not listen and ask well thought out questions in the q and a? That’s what I do . I would never try to shut down a speaker I disagree with.

          • Doc_Political

            I’m not sure who or what you’re responding to. I agreed that shutting down speech (as abhorrent as it may be) is disgraceful, and has been a tactic of the campus Left.

            I’m asking that the College Republicans use the opportunity to invite intelligent speakers, who are equipped with conservative ideas (not ugly and unnecessary insults). Just as no one takes the campus Left seriously when they try to shut down speech, no one takes the campus Right seriously when their speech is intentionally-offensive ideologically-empty garbage.

          • garyfouse

            Also ask the liberal student groups to invite more respectable speakers. You can complain about Coulter and Yiannopoulos but what about Farrakhan, Amir abdel malik Ali, rasmieh odeh and on and on ? You may not know the last two but I have heard some vile speech at UCI and other places directed at the US, Israel and Jews as well.

            Yiannopoulus is not my cup of tea but Coulter pales in comparison to the onslaught of leftist rabble rousers who routinely are welcomed on campus with no disruption

          • Doc_Political

            I have no qualms about asking the campus Left and Right both to bring intelligent speakers, and not garbage speakers. One should, however, be secure enough to accept and provide helpful critique to even their own side without requiring the sort of what-about-isms you are obsessing over — especially in this case, where the article we’re commenting on is specifically about the Bruin Republican’s strategy of inviting speakers. I’m a former college Republican from Berkeley. I don’t shy away from critiquing the Left at moments where it’s relevant, but I obviously care about the reputation and integrity of my own side tremendously.

          • garyfouse

            I question the very purpose of the article to begin with-that the College Republicans are inviting “controversial” speakers. How about the speakers invited by say Students for Justice in Palestine or the Muslim Student Association? Or even better Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA-a politicized office totally devoted to the destruction of Israel?

        • roccolore

          The College Democrats have invited terror apologists, Communists, Jew-haters, and Blame America Firsters to campus. And no one ever rioted or shouted down the speaker.

  • JnGalt52

    From the article: “contentious topics relating to undocumented immigrants, police officers and free speech”
    I understand the progressive love affair with illegal immigrants and no borders and their hatred for law enforcement.
    But “Free speech” is “contentious? Only to Fascists.

  • Charlie Alvarez

    Leftist fascists are turning college campuses like UCLA into zones of censorship.