Campus Free Speech

Antifa Shut Down a Planned Debate Between Yaron Brook and Sargon of Akkad at the King's College

"This was an act of violence...via a series of jackbooted totalitarian tactics."


Screenshot via Youtube

Antifa agitators shut down an event at the King's College in London featuring Ayn Rand Institute President Yaron Brook and anti-political-correctness YouTube personality Carl Benjamin (a.k.a. Sargon of Akkad).*

Violence ensued, and several security guards suffered injuries, according to a statement put out by King's Libertarian Society, the student group sponsoring the event.

"This was an act of violence, clearly intended to silence Yaron and Sargon's planned debate, via a series of jackbooted totalitarian tactics that unfortunately proved successful tonight," the group said.

On Twitter, antifa activists celebrated their victory.

The skirmish between masked antifa protesters and event organizers was captured on video. It's not clear who threw the first punch, though antifa obviously initiated the disruption. The shutdown was premeditated—activists organized it through a Facebook event. KCL Socialist Students, Intersectional Feminist Society, Kashmir Solidarity Movement, KCL LGBT+, KCL Action Palestine Society, KCL Justice For Cleaners, and the Demilitarise King's campaign were all involved, according to The Washington Examiner.

Yaron Brook is an Objectivist thinker with extremely hawkish foreign policy positions. He noted on Facebook that both the far left and the alt-right consider his opinions anathema. (In particular, he's a staunch defender of Israel, a view that often inflames extremists who agree on little else.) Benjamin has a history of making disgusting comments and defending unsavory characters. I'm not sure whether I'd want to sit through a discussion between these two, and there are many reasons one might object to both Brooks' and Benjamin's views on libertarian grounds.

Of course, King's College Libertarians should have the right to decide that for themselves—and other students have the right to choose whether or not to listen. Unfortunately, antifa has appointed itself the sole arbiter of what kind of speech is permitted on campus. Antifa is a decidely illiberal movement, according to Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook author Mark Bray, and that means the group only cares about its own side's free speech rights. Once again, it's hard to tell which guys are supposed to be the ones who are actually against fascism.

CORRECTION: I initially described Benjamin as "alt-right sympathetic," consistent with how mainstream news outlets have portrayed him. But upon further investigation, those reports seem misleading. Benjamin claims to stridently reject the alt-right and has quarreled with its members.