Tuesday, February 7, 2017

About That Violence in Berkeley . . .

I join today with the most distinguished public policy mind of our lifetime in a conspiracy theory that should not be dismissed out of hand.  People do conspire, often for ignoble motives.

Robert Reich and I both smelled a rat when violence erupted on campus, causing the University of California at Berkeley to cancel a speaking appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos (nee Hanrahan), a U.K.-born writer, speaker and employee of the Breitbart propaganda organization whose ex-CEO, Steve Bannon, is the alt-Pres. of Trumpistan.

The cancellation gave Trumpistan’s titular leader an opportunity to tweet gibberish about “free speech” and threaten to cut off the university’s federal funding.  Berkeley is perhaps the nation’s foremost bastion of free speech.  Trumpistan’s absurd accusations are as authentic as if Margot St. James, the founder of the COYOTE union for prostitutes, were to advocate for universal celibacy. (This is not rpt not to denigrate Ms. St. James, whom I have met and who is a gracious, charming and intelligent woman, quite a contrast to the aforementioned titular head of Trumpistan. But I digress)

What began as perfectly proper nonviolent protest at Berkeley erupted into violence with the appearance of a cadre of black-clad, black-masked agitators who began setting fires and throwing things around, appearing to cause some injuries to bystanders and peaceful protesters. 

Reich (a former presidential cabinet officer and now a distinguished educator and author) was there; I was not.  But when my wife described to me the scenes she had seen on television, I immediately remarked that it sounded like a false flag operation.  Reich thought the same thing and wrote about it, connecting dots as follows:

(1) Yinnopoulos writes for Breitbart News, which Steve Bannon -- Trump's strategy director -- ran before joining Trump.
(2) Before Yiannopoulos speaks at Berkeley, Breitbart publishes an article saying that Yiannopoulos will call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies.
(3) Berkeley opens its doors to Yiannopoulos, but campus police have to cancel the event because of masked agitators.
(4) Hours later, Trump issues a misleading tweet, accusing the university of not allowing free speech and promoting violence against innocent people with different views, and threatening to withhold federal funds.
(5) The next night, Yiannopoulos on Fox News says the incident proves that universities like Berkeley don't deserve federal grants by cracking down on free speech.
(6) That same night, on CNN, I raise the possibility that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart could have been collaborating with the agitators -- saying "I wouldn't bet against it." This generates a belligerent column in Breitbart with a misleading headline calling me a liar for claiming that Breitbart News organized the riots.

False flag collaborations to advance right-wing causes are not unprecedented.   Two are famously associated with Nazi Germany: 1. Operation Himmler was an elaborate hoax staged by the Nazis to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was used to “justify” the invasion of Poland.  2. Many historians believe that the February, 1933 Reichstag fire, Hitler’s springboard to power, was set by Nazi collaborators.

I wonder if we are perhaps witnessing the evolution of a vast new American underworld, political as well as criminal, secretly financed  by such outfits as the Donors Trust.  The Trump foundation is among the known donors to this murky right-wing outfit, which promises to "keep your charitable giving private, especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues."

Donors Trust has financed many of the escapades of James O’Keefe, another right-wing sleaze once associated with Breitbart.  It was O’Keefe who created the trumped-up secret videos that enabled Republican congressmen to defund the voter-registration organization, Acorn, and Planned Parenthood.  His doctored videos led to a libel suit by a former Acorn worker; O’Keefe settled out of court for more than $100,000.

In a sauce-for-the-goose maneuver, someone secretly filmed an O’Keefe colleague trying to bribe a lefty protester to commit violence at the Trumpistan inauguration ceremonies.

From black commandos to Milos Yiannopoulos to James O’Keefe to Alt-Pres. Bannon doesn’t seem like a crooked journey at all.  Or does it?

Maybe it’s just me.  And Robert Reich.

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