OPINION: Tomi Lahren event at UNM "cancelled" by protestors
Tomi Lahren (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
OPINION BY ABQ RAW CONTRIBUTOR AND SUBSTACK CONTENT CREATOR: POLICE LAW NEWSLETTER
FOX news personality Tomi Lahren was scheduled to speak at the University of New Mexico (UNM) on Thursday September 15, 2022. The event was hosted by the UNM chapter of Turning Point USA (a conservative nonprofit organization). The event (which was scheduled to end at 9:00 p.m.) was cut short (the event was stopped just prior to 8:00 p.m.) due to safety concerns - as protestors stormed the auditorium doors and clashed with police officers.
A tweet by Tomi Lahren of the incident at UNM
Lahren and Turning Point claim that a mob of far-left protestors swarmed the auditorium and attempted to enter the venue in an effort to disrupt the speech. They claim that there was a valid safety concern for Lahren and her father (who attended the event with her) and that multiple law enforcement agencies on site made the decision to cut short the event due to security concerns. Lahren stated that she was ushered into a “safe room” and then escorted out of a back entrance under police protection.
The Daily Lobo (a UNM student operated periodical) claimed that students of color were denied entry into the event (based solely on their skin color) - even though they possessed tickets (the tickets, though free, were required to gain entry into the event). The managing editor and senior reporter of the Daily Lobo (Maddie Pukite) stated that protestors were upset that this event was taking place at “the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month.”
A spokesperson for UNM stated that the unfortunate actions of protestors disrupted the event and created a security concern so great that the event had to be shut down by law enforcement. The UNM spokesperson relayed that protestors caused criminal damage to the venue by punching a hole in the wall near the venue entrance and illegally pulling the fire alarm.
There are photos of protestors holding signs that read “white supremacists not welcome”, “UNM has no room for racists”, and “Fuck Tomi Lahren”. Cell phone video depicted protestors shouting lines such as: “We don’t want you here!,” “Fuck Tomi Lahren!” and “Fuck you fascists!”
That isn’t racism
The factual problem that the protestors have is that Lahren is not a racist, white supremacist, or a fascist. The irony is that the protestors utilized threats, intimidation, and violence to shut down speech that they disagree with. Think about that - the use of violence to stop words they don’t like - from being spoken. If that isn’t a dictatorial and/or quasi-fascist tactic, then I don’t know what is.
However, if it is too harsh to call these tactics “quasi-fascist” then let’s label them on a very general level as what they objectively are - bad ideas. And we should always criticize bad ideas.
The difference between Lahren and the protestors is that Lahren would likely welcome a discussion with those who have opposing views. The evidence of this is that Lahren appeared on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in December of 2016. And Noah clearly has differing political views than her. Lahren was interviewed by him, on his show, in front of his audience, and she faced some hard questions from Noah. The point is that she participated in the discussion. Lahren did not round up one hundred of her most awful lemmings to threaten Noah and his audience, pound on the doors, pull a fire alarm, and attempt to silence him.
During the show Lahren and Noah had an interesting exchange about Colin Kaepernick (who at the time was in the throes of the flag-kneeling controversy). And objectively, Lahren did not do a great job of answering Noah’s questions. He appeared to have “won” that portion of the debate. But most important, Lahren publicly invited Kaepernick onto her show. She extended the invitation for Kaepernick to have a discussion with her, as opposed to, showing up at one of his events with one hundred maniacs - with the goal of halting his speech.
Lahren invites discussion with those she disagrees with. This is a good framework. A classically-liberal framework. A framework that we all used to agree with - as we discussed important and complex issues under the umbrella of embracing honest debate.
Whether or not Lahren is correct or that any of us agree with her ideas - is far less important than her willingness to sit down and have a discussion with people who have differing views.
When a group defaults to threats and violence (instead of discussion and debate) - this is how the rest of us know that they have lost the war of ideas. They cannot possibly emerge victorious or convince moderates that they have the best ideas after a meaningful discussion - and they know it. So the group relies on brute force, character assassination, doxxing, and other childish tactics to impose their views on others and silence even the slightest whisper of dissent.
Honest people will always first criticize the policy - before the person.
Dishonest people will always first personally attack their opponent - and usually never even comment on the policy issue.
This is a convenient strategy for lazy people to avoid discussion and debate. Because, if you can successfully label your opponent a "racist", "bigot", or "homophobe" - then you can justify never having to debate with them or engage in discussion. As, you are not expected to share the stage or have a cup of coffee with a “racist” or “deplorables”.
The glaring and obvious problem is - these dishonest critics quickly label anyone who has a differing opinion as a “racist”, etc... They make the ever-evolving definitions of these terms purposely broad, ambiguous, and progressively encompassing nearly everyone who dares to not blindly follow. This is a very clever way to avoid pushback on simple and bad ideas.
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