- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

The president of DePaul University likens campus race activists that shut down a conservative event to troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy during World War II.

Conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos was threatened with violence and hit in the face by a female student during a speaking engagement at the university’s Chicago campus on earlier this week.

A letter issued Wednesday by Rev. Dennis Holtschneider said the students were wrong — yet also very much like Allied Forces who fought and died in France on June 6, 1944.

“Yesterday’s speaker was invited to speak at DePaul, and those who interrupted the speech were wrong to do so,” Rev. Holtschneider wrote from Normandy. “I was ashamed for DePaul University when I saw a student rip the microphone from the hands of the conference moderator and wave it in the face of our speaker. […] Here in Normandy, I expected to be moved by the generosity of those who gave their lives on the beaches early on June 6, 1944. I did not expect, however, to be shocked when I realized that most of the soldiers were the same ages as our students today. The rows on rows of white crosses in the American cemetery speak to the selflessness of the human spirit at early adulthood to lay down their lives for a better world. I realize that many of yesterday’s protesters hold similarly noble goals for a more inclusive world for those traditionally held aside by our society.”

Roughly 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy and more than 9,000 were killed or wounded in the assault.

The Daily Caller noted on Thursday that Rev. Holtschneider’s letter initially focuses not on chastising Black Lives Matter supporters who disrupted Mr. Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement, but instead attacks the conservative guest as “unworthy of university discourse.”

“Generally, I do not respond to speakers of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ ilk, as I believe they are more entertainers and self-serving provocateurs than the public intellectuals they purport to be,” the university president wrote.” Their shtick is to shock and incite a strong emotional response they can then use to discredit the moral high ground claimed by their opponents. This is unworthy of university discourse, but not unfamiliar across American higher education. There will always be speakers who exploit the differences within our human community to their own benefit, blissfully unconcerned with the damage they leave behind.”

Footage of Tuesday’s event went viral because neither campus police or campus security intervened to control the raucous crowd. Reason magazine, a libertarian outlet, warned on Wednesday that free speech advocates should pay attention because, “tactics used to thwart Yiannopoulos, including the heckler’s veto, can and will be unleashed on other speakers.”

“Yiannopoulos has asked the university to refund him the $1,000 he paid in extra security fees, which seems fair,” Reason wrote. “Requiring would-be speakers to pay for security, and then failing to protect them when security is actually required, is unbecoming of an institution that claims to value free speech.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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