". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Campus Encampments Only a Warm-Up for Summer of Protests

April 29, 2024

Illegal campus occupations have entered their second week while hapless administrators at supposedly elite universities squirm like four-year-olds trying to gain control of a runaway tractor. The protests “don’t appear to be dying down at all,” Family Research Council Action President Jody Hice noted on “Washington Watch” Friday. As finals and then elections loom, “many people are asking and wondering if the violence is going to spill over into the summer months.”

“These protests are going to continue into the summer,” answered Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) in the same interview. “And, as it gets hotter, and tempers flare, the potential for more disruption is evident. And it’s going to be very unsettling as the summer goes on.” The campus encampments are “just uncovering the truth,” he added, “which is that the radical Left — supported by and endorsed by terrorist groups around the world — are doing what they can to stoke unrest across the country.”

The cause doesn’t matter to left-wing direct action. Sometimes, the activists don’t even know what the cause is. “I’ve seen interviews with students chanting, ‘From the river to the sea,’ and [they] don’t even know what river or what sea they’re talking about,” said Cline. A viral video clip showed two college students at an NYU protest last week who admitted they didn’t know what they were protesting. “Any student in late April is generally looking for any pretext to get out of class,” suggested Owen Strachan, senior fellow for Family Research Council’s Center for Biblical Worldview, on “Washington Watch.”

Whatever the cause, the Left has cultivated a culture of protest, where students and others gather simply for the excitement, the thrill of sticking it to the man, the rush of power from inhibiting other people’s lives, or the feeling of invincibility reinforced by the inexplicable reluctance of law enforcement agencies to enforce the laws these protestors break.

The protest counter-culture has been growing for some time. As early as 2011, protestors cut their teeth at illegal encampments during Occupy Wall Street. From April 2016 to February 2017, protestors camped out in the Dakotas to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In 2020, left-wing activists inflated a single incident of bad policing into a nationwide summer of racial division. The BLM movement perpetrated more than 500 violent riots, causing $1 to $2 billion in damages. The well-organized and relentless rioters staged nearly-nightly standoffs with law enforcement at the Portland, Ore. federal courthouse, the White House, and in New York City — not to mention other cities.

Since late 2021, left-wing activists participating in “Stop Cop City” have camped out near Atlanta, seeking to prevent the construction of a police training facility. In March 2023, Atlanta police detained dozens of activists, including a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) after more than 100 masked individuals in black clothing “entered the construction area and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers,” ultimately vandalizing and destroying construction equipment. Later that year, local officials indicted 61 individuals on racketeering charges.

The violence continued in 2022, when left-wing activists resorted to violence and intimidation in support of abortion-on-demand. The militant leftists not only targeted the homes of Supreme Court justices but even churches, academic appearances by constitutional lawyers, and everything in between.

This lifestyle of protest has created a need to protest, which in turn creates a demand for overhyped controversies. “Whether it’s environmental rhetoric or whether it’s international support for Hamas,” Cline pointed out, “we’ve seen a liberal indoctrination of college students and young people.” The education system is “being abused by the Left to infiltrate and indoctrinate young minds.”

One of the key words there is “young.” Left-wing radicals have even created summer camps to indoctrinate 4th through 8th graders into their activist lifestyle, teaching them the sort of escalatory tactics that necessitates instruction about how to deal with tear gas.

Now, as other causes apparently lose their luster, college activists with far more zeal than knowledge have happily adopted the cause of anti-Semitism as their reason to get out of bed in the morning — or perhaps I should say, get out of their pup tents.

Commentators on both sides of the political aisle have drawn comparisons between the student protests taking place today and anti-war protests from the late-1960s. At Columbia University, students appear to be consciously reenacting a university occupation that took place there in 1968. Establishment Democrats, having selected Chicago for their 2024 convention, have expressed concerns that this summer could see a repeat of the Democratic National Convention in 1968, when young radicals clashed violently with police. The summer riots of 1968 prompted disturbed Americans to elect Republican Richard Nixon that fall on a platform of restoring law and order.

Conservatives have also drawn the connection. “This reminds us of 1968 and the anti-war protesters. They were violent, violent extremists. They called for the violent overthrow of the United States government,” Regent University Dean of Government Michele Bachmann said on “Washington Watch.” Once again, she said, “We’re seeing calls for the overthrow of the United States government when they call for ‘death to America,’ ‘death to Israel.’”

The parallels to riots of the 1960s are more than superficial, suggested Rabbi Yaakov Menken on “Washington Watch.” “These folks who were students with … the long haircuts and the bandanas are now professors, tenured professors, in some cases even deans of students.” In other words, the student rioters of the 1960s are now the ones teaching university students today. Is it any wonder that they taught their proteges to follow in their footsteps?

“Hopefully they go back to class,” Cline said about the protestors, “and then go get jobs for the summer because … it would avoid the kind of summer unrest that we saw across the country in 2020.” Cline added that he hopes “cooler heads prevail.” If they don’t, Americans could be in for a “long, hot summer” of protesting and riots.

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.