The president of the University of Washington College Republicans says she received an anonymous flyer that labels her as a racist because she invited an alt-right speaker to campus. And she told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns that she’s not the only person receiving intimidating flyers for promoting free speech.
Jessica Gamble said she received this “Wanted” type flyer via email that features photos of her under the title “the racist in your class.” The flyer criticizes the UW College Republicans for hosting Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial Breitbart news editor associated with the “alt-right” and who was banned from Twitter for allegedly inspiring racism and misogyny against comedian Leslie Jones. It also alleges that Gamble has “close affiliations with white supremacists and Neo-Nazis” and invites people to contact both her and her father, listing phone numbers, emails and social media accounts.
“I kind of had a feeling something like this might happen but I was a little bit in shock and so I messaged my parents because actually I was at a meeting last night and said, ‘Don’t freak out, don’t be mad, I’m gonna send you something, just read through it. Dad, if you get calls, this is why,’” she told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns. “And so I sent it to them and they got mad, they got scared, all that kind of stuff.”
But was she scared?
“No, I still haven’t been yet,” she said. “I guess I’m not too worried because if anything physically happens to me, it’s not good for them, you’ve made a martyr out of someone. I guess I’m not too worried just yet.”
Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak to the UW Republicans on Jan. 20. A Change.org petition that calls for UW President Ana Mari Cauce to ban the Conservative from speaking had more than 4,300 signatures as of Wednesday morning. The petition cites a university code on discriminatory harassment as rationale for the ban. Cauce wrote in her blog that she does not approve of the speaker but that protecting free speech is important and that “we have reviewed this event with the State Attorney General’s office and there are not, at this time, sufficient grounds to ban him from speaking on our campus, although we continue to monitor what is going on as he speaks elsewhere.”
There have also been appeals to cancel his planned Jan. 19 speech at WSU, though Breitbart published a story last month that the university was demanding a $2,000 security fee but that the “university’s security team would not seek to protect Yiannopoulos should an agitator rush the stage.”
Gamble said her group booked Yiannopoulos in July before he was kicked off Twitter, in order to spread awareness about the club and, more than anything, because he spoke for free speech.
“We wanted like Ben Shapiro, that was like $10,000 for an hour and a half conversation for him to speak,” she said. “We looked at Milo and he didn’t charge a dime and that was our biggest factor because … there are a whole lot of costs to cover.
“We figured, Milo’s free, he’s getting some traction right now, he’s got a huge Twitter following because at the time he was still on Twitter and we really agreed with his stances on safe spaces and free speech on campus and how you’re shutting down discussion the one place discussion is meant to be.”
She added that Milo’s “outlandish” style has been a boon for membership.
“Our membership is growing because of Milo,” she said. “I know it would have made more sense if we had a more eloquent, adequate speaker that would appeal to everyone but the thing is we are getting a lot of people that are coming out of hiding that have been really worried about speaking on a college campus or being involved on a college campus because of their beliefs and Milo has emboldened them.”
Gamble said she’s asked via social media the flyers to be taken down if people see around campus and at WSU. In the process, she’s even heard from a few others who have had posters made about them and called Nazis.
“I don’t think this is unique,” she said. “It’s unique for this situation but it seems like this type of doxing, where they share the information with all of it, it’s starting to become more and more prevalent.”
Zak Burns, a Democrat, apologized on behalf of his ilk for the poster.
“I’m sorry that you have to go through something like this because you want to bring a speaker to campus,” he said. “I think this is absolutely disgusting – it’s bullying and intimidation in its absolute worst form, and beyond that, it’s tattling. They’re tattle-tales. ‘Oh, you better call her dad and let her know what she’s doing.’”
Jason Rantz, meanwhile, has written that this type of trolling only emboldens people like Yiannopoulos, and that the best way to fight is to ignore him altogether or to hear him out and challenge him on his actual merits.