As a university on the forefront of progress, UC Berkeley has had a reputation of being an open and tolerant atmosphere. So when the College Republicans club organized a bake sale that charged the buyer’s goods based on their race or gender, many were shocked. But when done to prove a point, people should realize there is really nothing about which to be offended, nor are there grounds to attack such a bake sale.
Regardless of one’s opinion on the issue of affirmative action satirized in the UC Berkeley’s College Republican’s “Increase Diversity” bake sale, the backlash the event’s organizers have received is unreasonable. It is hard to believe people’s sense of entitlement to political correctness could produce death threats and such intolerant opposition.
But controversy is often the best way to draw attention to one’s cause and get one’s voice heard, something students evidently understand.
In an interview on John King USA on Tuesday, California state senator Democrat Ed Hernandez called Berkeley College Republicans President Shawn Lewis, and the other club members “insensitive” for planning such an event. The senator might be correct in using this adjective, but then again, it is not the citizen’s job to be “sensitive” in his or her political activism. The very reason citizens become active in the public sphere is to promote what they believe, and in almost all areas of politics, people will disagree.
Just a few hours after the event’s Facebook invitation page went online, students posted multiple angry comments and threats of physical violence. Lewis said one person even threatened to bring a spiked baseball bat to the group’s table during the sale.
The group was forced to shut down its lunchtime table setups because of these reactions, which speaks to the immature and undemocratic nature in which opponents of the bake sale acted. Fortunately, Berkeley College Republican members did not let this stop them from following through with the sale.
The way in which Berkeley’s College Republicans went about getting their point across was indeed controversial.
It is dissapointing many Americans, especially the students who will be the future leaders of our nation and the world, are so thin-skinned when it comes to others exercising First Amendment rights in a way that does not perfectly exclude all emotion and consider everyone else’s potential feelings. Berkeley College Republicans did not put on their bake sale to persecute any group of people, but to express their disapproval of a political idea.
Instead of civilly considering what the Berkeley College Republicans had to say, opponents of their event immediately got tunnel-vision when they heard the word “race.”
Removing the passionate edge to politics the Cal bake sale displayed would simply be harmful to free speech, politics and democracy as a whole.
Sarah Cueva is a sophomore majoring in political science. Her point runs Fridays.