Sen. Bernie Sanders has spoken out against the progressive left’s ongoing efforts to suppress free speech on campus, stating that it only contributes to rising political tensions in the United States.
Sanders’ statements come in the wake of James Hodgkinson’s mass shooting of GOP congressmen during a morning baseball practice in Alexandria, VA, which hospitalized Majority Whip Steve Scalise and wounded several others. Following the shooting, Sanders deplored Hodgkinson’s actions, describing the violence as “despicable” and “unacceptable in our society.”
“I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through non-violent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values,” said Sanders at the time.
Speaking on CBS, Sanders said that efforts to suppress free speech contributed to the rising tide of political violence.
“Look, freedom of speech, the right to dissent, the right to protest, that is what America is about,” he said, per PJ Media. “And, politically, every leader in this country, every American has got to stand up against any form of violence. That is unacceptable. And I certainly hope and pray that Representative Scalise has a full recovery from the tragedy that took place.”
The senator stated that “people have a right to speak” on campus, even if their speech is considered disagreeable or problematic. In February, leftist activists at UC Berkeley shut down a speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos using violence.
“And you have a right, if you are on a college campus, not to attend. You have a right to ask hard questions about the speaker if you disagree with him or her,” Sanders said. “But what — why should we be afraid of somebody coming on a campus or anyplace else and speaking? You have a right to protest. But I don’t quite understand why anybody thinks it is a good idea to deny somebody else the right to express his or her point of view.”
“What is very clear is, we are in a contentious and difficult political moment in our country’s history,” he added. “I have very grave concerns about the Trump agenda right now.”