Art by Kevin Chan // Daily Nexus

Art by Kevin Chan // Daily Nexus

Powerful images have always been catalysts for change. From the civil rights and antiwar movements during the 1960s and 1970s to the modern movement against police brutality, powerful images have a unique ability to sway public opinion by portraying unjust situations exactly as they are.

Therefore, I direct the attention of liberals on the UCSB campus to two powerful images of injustice that have emerged from two different American college campuses over the past few days.

One of these images comes from Yale University. In late October, Yale administrators sent out an email requesting that students avoid “culturally unaware or insensitive” Halloween costumes. Some students felt that this email was too restrictive, and a few students in Silliman College (one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges) took the issue up with their Associate Master, Erika Christakis.

In response to these complaints, Christakis sent an email ( to Silliman College students that offered a different perspective on the issue of offensive Halloween costumes. Christakis acknowledged the legitimacy of concerns about respect for diversity, but shared her view, based in her experience as an early childhood educator, that overly strict rules about Halloween costumes go too far. She asked, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”

The uproarious reaction to Christakis’ email answered her rhetorical question better than she could have imagined. Hundreds of students and faculty signed a letter denouncing her, and there were calls for her resignation. On Nov. 5, students gathered in the Silliman College courtyard to protest Christakis’ email. Erika’s husband Nicholas Christakis, the Master of Silliman, went out to speak to them, and the ensuing confrontation was caught on video (

During the confrontation, Nicholas Christakis remained polite, reasonable and conciliatory, but stood firm in his support for his wife’s views. The students surrounding him jeered, derided and insulted him. When Nicholas Christakis tried to calmly explain to one of the students why he disagreed with her, she snapped at him to “Be quiet!” and began screaming at the top of her lungs that Christakis should resign his position. “IT IS NOT ABOUT CREATING AN INTELLECTUAL SPACE!” the student yelled. “IT IS ABOUT CREATING A HOME HERE!”

I challenge any liberal to watch the video of the incident and tell me they support this kind of behavior.

The other image I wish to present to you comes out of the University of Missouri. Amid growing racial tensions at Mizzou in recent weeks, the left-wing group Concerned Student 1950 staged a protest on Nov. 9. The protest occurred in a public space on campus. However, when student reporter Tim Tai attempted to document the protest, he found himself being physically blocked by the protestors. While Tai tried to politely assert his First Amendment rights, he was shouted at, jeered, menaced and physically pushed.

These interactions were caught on camera ( by another student reporter, Mark Schierbecker. Shortly afterwards, a protestor tried to grab Schierbecker’s camera, and subsequently shouted to the crowd at large, “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here! I need some muscle over here!” This protestor was later revealed to be an assistant professor at Mizzou, Melissa Click.

Liberals on campus, I hope these videos prompt you to have a little “waking up” moment of your own.

The situation at Mizzou is still confused (and will probably take a long time to unravel fully), but at least some of the racial grievances there appear to be legitimate.

This does not, in any sense whatsoever, excuse the actions of the protestors.

And so I am writing this as an open letter to liberals on campuses all across America, but particularly on the UCSB campus. I might not consider myself one of you, but I respect the sincerity of your intentions. You have high ideals. You want to end racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. You want to bring about a more progressive and a more just world, and you want to be on the right side of history.

Do you believe that these angry mobs at Yale and Mizzou are on the right side of history?

How does the ugly reality of their actions line up with the lofty rhetoric you espouse about greater equality, diversity and tolerance?

Throughout history, people on the side of injustice have had moments of “waking up,” where they realized that their actions were inexcusable, and they could no longer hide from this fact.

Liberals on campus, I hope these videos prompt you to have a little “waking up” moment of your own. Because the actions being taken by these liberal protestors are not the actions of a political movement cloaked in righteousness and driven by a hunger for justice. Their actions are those of bullies, not heroes.

Because the same idealistic campus liberals who once chanted “Make love, not war” are now calling for “muscle” to remove neutral observers.

Because regardless of ideals, regardless of the legitimacy of their concerns, the actions of these protestors clearly and undeniably overstep the bounds of civil behavior and basic human decency — and you know it deep down.

If you were watching a movie and saw characters acting like the protestors in these two videos, those characters would almost certainly be the villains of the movie, not the heroes. Why should you apply less discernment to real-life situations than you would to a movie?

Liberals, it is time to start doubting yourselves.

You may have, in the past, dismissed conservative concerns about liberal bias in the modern university. Can you watch these videos and tell me, with a straight face, that there is not a legitimate problem with liberal bullying on college campuses?

Yale and Mizzou are not isolated incidents. Countless instances of this sort of behavior have been documented on college campuses over the years, including here at UCSB.

Freedom of expression is a nonpartisan goal. There have been some instances of conservatives censoring liberals in college. This is wrong, too. But on the modern campus, the censorship and vitriol and bullying are coming overwhelmingly from one side — from your side.

Because the same idealistic campus liberals who once chanted “Make love, not war” are now calling for “muscle” to remove neutral observers.

Rather than looking for problems everywhere in the world, maybe you should examine the evil within your own hearts and souls a little more closely.

Liberal students and faculty, I challenge you: watch these videos with as open a mind as possible. Ask yourself how you would react if you saw right-wingers at, say, a Tea Party rally acting the same way. And ask yourself if this is the sort of legacy you wish to be part of.

And if the answer is yes, then you should be open to considering the possibility that you have become every bit as narrow-minded and bigoted as those you oppose.