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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

“Rising to the bait” is a fishing term. Anglers lure fish hiding in the deep by positioning bait on or near the surface. Fish that rise to the bait usually end up on someone’s dinner plate.

Conservative groups routinely try this technique on college liberals. Their lure is an inflammatory right-wing speaker. The catch comes in duping liberals to act badly as censors of free speech or, even better, violently. The protesters provide free entertainment on Fox News Channel. And the broader public sees them as spoiled college kids. It’s painful to watch.

Why else would Berkeley College Republicans invite the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on their famously left-leaning University of California campus? A publicity freak trafficking in racist slurs, Yiannopoulos is currently best known for advocating sex between men and boys.

Taking their cue in a play their enemies wrote, the offended ones made a big deal out of this cartoonish character. The cameras caught “protesters,” some wearing masks, in full rampage. They trashed the campus before heading off into downtown Berkeley to smash some windows. (By the way, who exactly were these people hiding their identities?)

Over at the State University of New York at Buffalo, agitated students all but shut down a speech by Robert Spencer, an alleged Islamophobe. Spencer’s claim to fame is his controversial Jihad Watch website.

Behind many such speaking engagements is a group called Young America’s Foundation. And behind Young America’s Foundation are the Koch brothers, Richard and Helen DeVos and other very rich financiers of the right. Their agenda relies on discrediting anyone to their left.

Frankly, I don’t care enough about Ann Coulter to even dislike her. Her political shock act ran its course long ago, and being ignored is probably her greatest fear. But the left seems determined to revive her career.

Coulter’s scheduled speech at Berkeley was canceled after protests raised security concerns. It should surprise no one that the foundation was picking up her $20,000 speaking fee. College Republicans and the foundation are now suing Berkeley for allegedly violating Coulter’s First Amendment rights.

What should smart lefties do? Three things.

One is develop a very thick skin. Many of you are unable to distinguish between merely provocative and totally offensive. You can simplify by dropping such distinctions. Both kinds of speech are protected. If right-wingers choose to invite promoters of disgusting views, let them own it.

Two is to understand this about the opinion business: Success can come from drawing a positive response or a negative one. Failure is no response. Thus, the most effective way to block an obvious attempt to bait you is to swim away. Don’t petition. Don’t attend. Don’t enrich those who make a livelihood out of getting under your skin.

Wit, meanwhile, makes for a great offense. As the writers at “Saturday Night Live” have taught us, mockery is a more fearsome weapon than raw rage.

Three, when campus conservatives book speakers custom-designed to enrage you, try this clever tactic: Host a sensible conservative to give a talk at the same time. The growing ranks of anti-Trump conservatives offer a pool of highly promising candidates.

Such speakers would draw audience and attention away from the flamethrower across campus. Finding common ground is good for the civic culture, and joining forces enhances power. Importantly, you would come off as open-minded and also be open-minded. We’d all do well to listen more to opinions contrary to our own.

Resist the flashing lures. The choice for campus liberals comes down to this: Either you frustrate those who would provoke you or you become their dinner.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at


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19 responses to “Campus Liberals Are Too Easy To Bait”

  1. A. D. Reed says:

    Thank you, Ms. Harrop. I’ve been urging similar tactics for ages. I suspect that, unfortunately, most 19- and 20-year-old college students won’t listen to us–few people that age are really level-headed about anything: love, sex, politics, culture …

    I tried to convince Democrats in Asheville, NC, to call and reserve all the tickets they could when D.J. Trump came to town to campaign last summer. Asheville — a bright blue dot in dimly red western NC (home of Mark Meadows and Patrick McHenry) was an audacious choice for Trump’s campaign. Unfortunately, local Dems demonstrated, showed up en masse around police barriers, shouted and cursed and in a few cases acted out physically.

    How much better would it have been to have filled the auditorium’s 2000 seats with regular folks, aged 25 to 75, and, the moment Trump began to speak, for all of them to stand up and quietly walk out!

    • itsfun says:

      Yep; buy all the tickets and deprive Americans the right to see and hear who and what they want. Your idea is just another way to deny free speech. Its okay to have different opinions, its not okay to try and stop any body from hearing different opinions. Having different ideas, opinions, etc. is what made America great at one time. Now President Trump is trying to accomplish that greatness again.

      • delete your account probably says:

        Yeah, all those people that were “deprived”, in the bizarre hallucinatory dreamscape you live in where you somehow aren’t a traitor.

      • Independent1 says:

        They’re not different ideas and opinions, unless you consider the plots crooks write to rob a bank or defraud someone of their life savings is somehow classified as an idea or opinion.

        You morons have nothing but the minds of gangsters. And every notion you come up with that you think is an idea or opinion, is in fact nothing BUT A PLOT to figure out how you can screw somebody out of what YOU WANT!!

        Just look at the gerrymandering and other conniving that you morons come up with to steal votes and keep yourselves in power – are these rational ideas or opinioons?? NO!!! And all the other conniving and fraudulent acts you idiots perpetrate to suppress votes and steal elections!!

        Or the anti-democracy plot that the GOP legislators in North Carolina came up with to pass legislation that would curb the rights of a newly elected Democratic governor to oversea their gerrymandering and other anti-democracy plots. Fortunately a judge overruled that GOP plot.

        Get real lowlife, Republicans never came up with an idea or opinion that wasn’t a plot to steal as many taxpayer dollars and stuff them into their own pockets or the pockets of their wealthy donors!!

        If Republicans had any rational ideas, it wouldn’t be all 10 states that are rated the most miserable to live in being run by the GOP. Or all 25 states with the people most broke and on the verge of bankruptcy being run by the GOP!!

        And people in GOP-run states wouldn’t be living 2-6 year shorter lives than people in Dem run states if the GOP had any real opinions or ideas that weren’t crooked plots!!!

      • The lucky one says:

        I agree up until your last sentence. Trump is not a champion of free speech. He wants to make it more difficult to criticize public figures by making it easier for the wealthy to threaten lawsuits and stifle dissent.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Better to have them start laughing.

      • A. D. Reed says:

        Very possibly! Or do like the students at Bethune College when Betsy DeVos spoke, and simply stand and turn their backs.

        • dbtheonly says:

          You’ve hit the classy response.

          I’d want the campus paper to read, “Richard Spencer, the 21st Century’s answer to Springtime for Hitler.”

      • Mariaeminnick says:

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      • The lucky one says:

        Why not both?

  2. itsfun says:

    Allowing, hearing, speaking, different opinions and ideas are what made America great. Denying any of these just makes us another third world nation.

    • delete your account probably says:

      Sorry, there’s no obligation anyone has to give you traitors the time of day, let alone listen to the racist gibberish you grunt. Maybe – just maybe! – it’s supporting a fascist despot that makes the US just another third world nation, you useless moron.

  3. Great article. The more enlightened students on campuses should see the invitations of the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos and Anne Coulter as a godsend. By allowing these spiritually moribund individuals to speak out offers students and others to weigh for themselves in a cool dispassionate manner the innermost aspects of the spiritually deficient mores of Right Wing extremists. I would suggest they invite Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer, and other dim-minded right wing ideologues to expound until the cows come home their nonsense.

    And afterwards, the more enlightened students might want to contact local Baha’is, or contact the External Affairs Committees of the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha’is of The United States, of Alaska, and Hawaii, to invite speakers to give talks on subjects with themes that would serve as counterweights to whatever morally deficient topics were offered as speeches by extremists—either in parallel to the talks by extremists, or scheduled after the extremists speak.

    That way, students who are neutral will be able to discern for themselves the stark contrasts between views inspired by lofty sentiments compared to the dead-weight of toxic hate-filled rhetoric, while those whose minds were already aligned towards a spiritually enlightened view can be further inspired to move towards the light, and further appreciate the dangers of walking towards an infernal fire.

  4. I of John says:

    Ahhh the old liberal trap. Lure young liberals with tasteless rightwing nonsense and catch them in hypocrisy after inciting a reaction. Normally that would be sufficient to be the whole story however in this highly charged political time were looking at incitements the could boil over to rioting. A tricky trap to set considering it could well blow-up in rightwing faces.

    • johninPCFL says:

      Unfortunately so far it has not blown up in their faces.

      If the “protestors” had just allowed Yiannopoulos to spew his fetid hate, the VERY NEXT STORY would have been his defense of NAMBLA, and the entire conservative establishment would still be wearing the story. Instead, the NAMBLA story is buried along with the riot.

  5. latebloomingrandma says:

    Boy, this was an interesting article. The Koch’s tentacles seem to be everywhere. I would never have guessed that some of these seemingly misplaced invitations to speakers had a specific motive beyond spouting right wing blather.

  6. dpaano says:

    I so agree with the author’s suggestions….my mother always taught me that if someone did something you didn’t like, just walk away. That irks them more than if you actually did something back to them, which, in turn, only makes it inherently worse in the end! Just because a college books a speaker who is anti-establishment doesn’t mean that anyone has to attend….it would be more photogenic if they took pictures of 3-4 people at the speech rather than the crown outside rallying against the speaker. Look at the two pictures side by side….which one would be the most provocative? I think the former showing few people attending the speaker’s program!!!

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