IMPACT DePaul

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The events that occurred on Tuesday May 24th will not be forgotten at DePaul. This is what members of IMPACT DePaul had to say.

Alex Boutros - President

Claire Anderson - VP

Luke Borkowski - Educate Yo’self Session Leader

IMPACT DePaul: I Matter, Political Activism Can Too is a nonpartisan, political activism organization. Our mission is to educate and engage the underrepresented segments of the US voting demographic, which are youth and the impoverished. On DePaul’s campus we focus on voter registration and student political involvement in relevant issues such as CPS, CAPS and corruption in Chicago. We also visit high schools and homeless shelters.

Milo Yiannopolous’s brand of idealism is that of social conservatism with a heavy right-wing populist influence. It comes as no surprise then that he is an avid Trump supporter, this being the reason he was booked by the DePaul Republicans. I need not go into the specific political ideologies of Mr. Trump, particularly because this is a nonpartisan organization and I find it extremely difficult to remain neutral about this certain presidential-candidate-to-be, but I will say that he has been criticized heavily for racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic and transphobic comments.

Milo, his beliefs, and all that he represents, then, polarize the masses. The happenings at his event last Tuesday were completely unsurprising when taking all of this into account. By these happenings I mean protestors verbally warred with supporters, which halted Milo from speaking.

Amidst the mayhem that erupted, the DePaul Republicans and other supporters rightfully defended their freedom to assemble, to voice and support their opinions. The nature of these issues, however, is that they make compromise nearly impossible, and the support of any of them has the potential to endanger and alienate whole factions of our population. Enter the protestors, who also defend their first amendment rights of free speech and protest. Voltaire’s quote: "I disagree with what you're saying, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" was certainly applicable here.

The protestor’s strategy was simply to shut the event down. They were obviously successful, but also hugely failed in other regards: the protestors were disorganized, disrespectful and pugnacious (some argue rightfully so). Unfortunately, this sent the sort of message that Milo loves to utilize when criticizing his more liberal opponents. So while he may not have been able to speak, he succeeded in another goal: to show that the left will deny free speech and “bully” him for his views. This is a popular strategy for Milo and he wields it well. As a tech contributor at Breitbart, he knows the power of a viral video, knows that footage of protestors acting out in an uncalculated manner against him will garner more votes for Mr. Trump than any policy or argument.

Milo’s rhetoric goads protestors, specifically those labeled by the conservative media as “social justice warriors,” into inciting disrespect by insulting their physical appearance, particularly feminists - Trump’s criticisms of Carly Fiorina and Meghan Kelly anyone? Some view his speech as ideological and representative of conservative policy, but it little more than a tactic to gain political traction, and in this case, it worked, making the nonevent hugely successful for the DePaul Republicans, Milo and supporters of Donald Trump.

The outcome of last Tuesday’s event was a memorable, yet disheartening, escalation of hatred and disrespect on both sides. The university did not help matters much: DePaul showed a pitiful lack of foresight and later, damage control. Perhaps their hands off approach was an attempt to honor the freedoms of both sides of the argument, but it only seemed to raise tensions even higher: encouraging disruptive protesting and angry retaliation.

When faced with a Donald Trump or a Milo Yiannaopolous, the best thing protestors can do is to not feed into their narrative, do not give them ammunition to further hurt your valid contrarian opinions. Take a page from MLK Jr.’s strategy book, and that of many other main players of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, who captivated the media by showing the world that opponents of injustice will fight peacefully and civilly, no matter how violent and hateful the supporters become. The idea is this: When someone doesn't speak your language, do you merely scream louder to drown out their message, or do you teach them how to speak new words? Additionally, know when to walk away from a fight, it is never weak to be the bigger person or send the bigger message, even if it is not louder.

Peaceful and respectful protesting is more likely to inspire the support of the media and the masses, spark a movement, and create systemic change.

Crass, angry protesting generally sends the loudest message only to those in direct opposition to you, and only inspires a response of the same kind.

Last Tuesday there was no way to tell who was a supporter and who was an opponent when violence ensued. Protest organization is key: wear identifying clothing, carry signs and maintain an orderly formation. Without these things, one side inevitably blames the other for any violence. Protesters must make it absolutely obvious of who they are and that they are NOT the ones instigating ANY violence.

It is not just on our campus that we see tensions rising: I do believe Tuesday is indicative of our nation’s political climate as a whole. The political scene makes me feel as we’re back in the 1960’s. The saying, “History always repeats itself” has never seemed so grim.

If you are interested in discussing the ways people protested in the past, the tactics of protests happening now, and brainstorm ways we can protest in the future please come to IMPACT’s round-table discussion on  Tuesday May 31 5pm-6:30pm in arts and letters 409

Yes, there will be plenty of pizza and brownies.