Two videos went viral last week, showing a University of California at Riverside student named Edith Macias rip a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat off the head of fellow student Matthew Vitale. Macias ran off to the student life offices with the hat, but not before sharing this exchange with Vitale:
Vitale: “This is mine. You do not get to take other people’s property that is legally theirs in this county.”
Macias: “Man, f— your laws.”
Vitale: “I have a freedom of speech to wear this hat.”
Macias: “Your f—ing freedom of speech is genocide, homeboy! Is that what you are trying to represent?”
Reasonable people would expect this to be a clear cut case of right and wrong, with the expletive-screaming hat thief clearly in the wrong. But the progressive left has been trying to convince us that up is down, and wrong is right, in increasingly shrill and angry ways. Our colleges and universities have become lightning rods for the fights between the far left and far right, and this fight boiled over at the University of California last week.
There are two videos of the incident, one filmed by Vitale and the other by Macias. The basic facts of the situation aren’t in dispute, and it’s pretty clear cut what happened. Vitale, who is the External Vice President at College Republicans at UCR, was attending a mandatory student meeting on campus.
Macias, who Vitale notes he’s never met before, approached him, removed the MAGA hat from his head, and ran off. It’s clear when watching the altercation unfold that Macias considers herself so in the right, she expected campus staff to discipline Vitale, not her.
When it became clear that campus staff wanted to return the hat to Vitale, Macias was upset. “Oh my God, you’re going to keep letting him wear it? That just shows how the f*** UCR [University of California, Riverside] is and the education system. It’s geared to benefit white people, white people, not me. In the premises of the university I deal with microaggressions on the daily, as do other people of color and you have people out there wearing hats like those, y’all don’t say s*** about it. Make America Great Again? Really? Lynches, mass genocides, mass deportations. Constant killings, and y’all are just gonna shut the f*** up?”
It’s important to note at this point that Vitale is half-Nicaraguan, and when he tells Macias, this she tells him that doesn’t matter, because he appears to be a white man, and is privileged. In a time when mislabeling people and silencing them is considered hate speech and a microaggression, it’s telling that Macias erases Vitale’s race and ethnicity.
During an interview, Vitale said, “My hope for this is that people in my generation will wake up to the idea of free speech. Too many people in my generation believe that their feelings supersede everything, even the law. This country was founded on the ideas of individual rights. No one can take those rights away because they’re endowed by God, not the government or one’s peers. I’d like to see basic respect return to this country. We don’t have to agree on everything, but the one thing I hope all Americans can come to agree on is that everyone should (and does) have the right to speak their mind uninterrupted.”
When asked if he expected the response to the video to be so widespread, he said, “Definitely not. When I posted it, I thought it was going to get shared a few times around the conservative pages that I belong to; I’d maybe write about it for my blog, and it would eventually just disappear.”
This won’t disappear, and it shouldn’t. Vitale was informed that Macias could be charged with a felony, since video evidence exists of her removing the hat from his head. Macias’s supporters don’t intend to let this drop, either, and have an extensive list of demands. With no acknowledgement that Vitale was the wronged party, or that his property that was removed by force, they instead want to see Macias supported and rewarded.
Specific demands include that the university supply and fund alternative housing for both Macias and her family, amnesty from both campus and legal charges, mental health accommodations for late school work and free counseling, and public statements by the university against white supremacists and in support of sanctuary campuses. It’s worth reading the statement, if for no other reason than to see that these progressive students still don’t understand why stealing someone’s property is wrong.
Vitale provides a breath of fresh air for those worried about college students and millennials, with their reputation for apathy and far-left ideology. He wants people to know this about young conservatives: “firstly that we exist; millennials aren’t all just hopeless leftists. The College Republicans are great activists; donations to them are always a good way to support the cause. Other than that, consider volunteering on a campaign — local, state or national. We frequently volunteer and work on campaigns and can always use help!”
It’s time to support politically savvy young people, and to remember that free speech is a vital American freedom.
Correction: This article previously misidentified the state university at which Macias and Vitale are enrolled.