Controversial Speaker Ann Coulter to Appear at UC Berkeley Months After Fiery Protest - NBC Bay Area
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Controversial Speaker Ann Coulter to Appear at UC Berkeley Months After Fiery Protest

Berkeley College Republicans, the group behind Milo Yiannopoulos' speaking engagement, invited Coulter, who is known for making anti-immigrant comments.

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    Controversial Speaker Ann Coulter to Appear at UC Berkeley Months After Fiery Protest
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    File image of Ann Coulter.

    Conservative commentator Ann Coulter is set to appear at UC Berkeley on April 27 as part of a series of talks on immigration, just three months after a campus visit by disgraced Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled amid fiery, violent protests.

    Berkeley College Republicans, one of the campus groups behind the speaking engagement, confirmed the visit to NBC Bay Area on Tuesday.

    "The Berkeley College Republicans have invited Ms. Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley because she has been one of the most vocal critics of illegal immigration in all its manifestations and was one of the earliest supporters of President Trump, from when he initially announced his candidacy down to the present day,” said Naweed Tahmas, a spokesperson for the campus group.

    Berkeley College Republicans is working with Young America’s Foundation, a conservative organization that regularly sponsors university appearances, to iron out the details, and with BridgeCal, a nonpartisan campus group that sprung up after the Yiannopoulos fiasco. 

    Pranav Jandhyala, BridgeCal's founder, said the nascent organization tries to facilitate civil political discourse between opposing parties. The goal of Coulter's visit, he said, was to expose Berkeley students to alternative perspectives. 

    "We want to create a space where all political views and opinions are welcome, but they are going to be challenged through debate and discussion," Jandhyala said. "...This is the proper way we need to deal with political disagreements." 

    He added that progressive speakers — including Clinton-era presidential adviser Maria Echaveste — have also been invited to speak at the campus as part of the series, and maintained that the overall tenor of the event will be less controversial and more substantive than Yiannopoulos' February visit.

    All speakers will be alloted time to share their views on immigration, and a question and answer segment with the audience will follow, he said. The event, tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m., will be free and open to UC Berkeley students. 

    Coulter's speaking fees are about $20,000, of which Young America's Foundation will put forward about $17,000. The cost of additional security has yet to be worked out with campus police. 

    The Foundation tweeted out its own unique confirmation of the Coulter event earlier on Tuesday, warning “snowflakes” — a term used by the so-called alt-right, a populist fringe group made up of white nationalists, to describe liberals — of the impending lecture.

    Coulter’s visit will likely be seen as a test for UC Berkeley, historically known as the home of the free speech movement, after anti-Yiannopolous protesters smashed windows, started fistfights and set a lamppost ablaze with little interference from local and campus law enforcement.

    The downtown riot made national news and prompted a response from President Donald Trump, who floated the idea of cutting federal funds from the university.

    Coulter, who rose to fame in the 1990s as a political pundit on "Real Time With Bill Maher," is known for roiling those on the left with her inflammatory comments, particularly those about immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community and feminists.

    Her most recent book, "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!" is a New York Times-bestseller that effectively serves as an ode to Trump and a screed against the mainstream political establishment and minority groups. 

    “In the same way any immigrant to Finland makes it less white, any immigrant to America makes it less honest,” she opines in the book. In the past, she has also advocated for bringing back literacy tests for voting, called public schools "babysitting" programs for "hoodlums, and said that scaling back women’s rights is a "personal fantasy."

    UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said that the Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeCal retain the right to invite to campus whomever they deem fit. 

    However, he said, the university's "administration wishes to make clear that an invitation of this sort in no way suggests our endorsement of a particular point of view, and we will continue to affirm our commitment to the values of diversity, equality, and tolerance that underlie the greatness of Berkeley and, indeed, of our nation."

    Coulter is scheduled to speak in Modesto the day after the Berkeley engagement, courtesy of the Stanislaus GOP. Protest plans for that event have already spread on social media. 

    This article has been updated to reflect additional information from BridgeCal. 

    Contact Gillian Edevane at Gillian.Edevane@nbcuni.com

    Contact Gillian Edevane through email at gillian.edevane@nbcuni.com. You can also provide feedback by texting or calling her at 669-263-2895, or following her on Twitter at @GillianNBC.