Unethical Quote Of The Week: Robert Reich

“I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students. Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event. So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth.”

—-Former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, spinning himself silly to allow his leftist-colleagues to duck accountability for the Berkeley rioting.

Nope, I don't believe it.

Nope, I don’t believe it.

Robert Reich isn’t a supposed to be a political hack. He’s a scholar and a former Cabinet member. Yet he felt it necessary to abandon all logic and honesty in order to try to shift blame for a leftist anti-Trump, anti-speech riot on a major college campus onto its targets. This might be good news: Reich is no fool, and maybe the Angry Left is beginning to realize that its tactics have backfired. So now it is just lying and blame-shifting. That’s an improvement. Sort of.

Reich’s statement is unbelievable on its face. He teaches at Berkeley, but does he really expect anyone to believe that in the middle of a night-time riot, he was in a position to recognize individual rioters and render an informed judgment regarding whether they were students? The school has more than 38,000 students! It is impossible for Reich to know all of them, and during the chaos of a riot at night, it is highly unlikely that he could even distinguish the students in his own classes. His  unequivocal statement that none of the rioters were students is a false one: he cannot know that. He cannot know they were “outside agitators.” He cannot know that he had never seen them before, especially since many of them were wearing masks.

Then he says that there are rumors that they were “right-wingers,” and in the next sentence implies the truth of those rumors. You know, I’ve heard rumors for years that Robert Reich is really one of the Seven Dwarfs, escaped from the fairy tale, like in “Enchanted.” The smart money is on “Doc.” However, since there isn’t a shred of evidence that this rumor is true, and thus suggesting otherwise would be unfair and dishonest, I would never, never state that Reich is close associate of Snow White and Dopey. Reich, however, feels constrained by no such principles, being, apparently, a devotee of the false dialectic employed by leftists for a century or so.

Boy, did I get sick of arguing with people like him is college.

Moreover, saying that Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech is far from a “complete distortion.” First of all, we have the evidence of the speech-suppressing riots, which Reich neatly absolves his employers and colleagues of enabling by pronouncing a rumor as fact, mid-paragraph, and attributing to himself internal X-ray face recognition software.

Second, The Foundation For Individual Rights In Education, which tracks such things, has rated Berkeley’s speech codes and regulations “yellow,” meaning that they  have “at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application.” For example, the current Berkeley civility code reads in part,

[T]he administration of this University publicly declares its expectation that all members of the campus community will work to develop and maintain a high degree of respect and civility for the wealth of diversity in which we are all fortunate to live and work together.

This language, of course, supports the theory behind the rioting. Since Milo Yiannopoulos’s rhetoric does not manifest “a high degree of respect and civility,” the students who acted to silence him were only following Berkeley ideals.

Asked later in the interview by CNN host Don Lemon, who, typically, didn’t challenge or point out Reich’s slide from rumor to certitude, “You think it’s a strategy by [ Yiannopoulos] or right-wingers?,” Reich replied,

“I wouldn’t bet against it. I saw these people. They all looked very– almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”

This is Big Lie politics, shameless use of talking points, rumor-mongering and outright public deception. A figure greatly respected in progressive circles said on TV, repeatedly, that he knew that the rioters were not students or from the campus, that they were organized by an outside group, and suggested only Breitbart and “right-wingers” as possible culprits.  The record strongly suggests otherwise.


31 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Robert Reich

  1. “Robert Reich isn’t a supposed to be a political hack.”

    Maybe he’s not supposed to be, but Robert Reich has LONG been a political hack. His regular screeds in the alleged Paper of Record prove it.

  2. My initial response was: “Who cares one whit about the opinion of a washed-up, ineffectual, long-gone-from-the-public-eye Clinton appointee?”

    And of course the answer is: All the Democrats do, though I wouldn’t guess how many of them actually know who he is and what he did in government. But it doesn’t matter, does it? Someone gave him a voice, and he lied, and they love the lie.

    It isn’t going to stop, is it?

    This is getting too depressing for me. Look for me with P.G. Wodehouse in my hands. A little escape is a good thing now and then, and no one does it better than PG. Think I’ll start with ‘The Great Sermon Handicap.”

  3. Robert Reich is a political hack. There. I said it. I’d even go on to say he’s an old school, red diaper baby, 1930s-era Commie-Socialist. But that’s just me. Funny that he of all people would use the term “outside agitators.”

  4. I find the idea that the rioters were outside agitators rather than students plausible, though of course I’ve seen no evidence of it.

    The theory that they were stealth right-wingers and that this is a false flag is not plausible, though, and is simply a fantasy used for confirmation bias. If they were outside agitators, they were still leftist agitators.

    • Thanks, I didn’t even notice that. Fixed. It’s no excuse, but the error was in the source of the quote, when I pasted it into the essay. Thanks.

      And no, it didn’t interfere with the dwarf joke at all. And remember, I was just noting a rumor, just like Bob. Unlike Bob, I never implied it was true.

      • Absolutely. Your resemblance to Caesar’s wife is indisputable.

        Yet, I am still put in mind of the following exchange in “The Big Chill”:

        Michael (Jeff Goldblum): I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.
        Sam Weber (Tom Berenger): Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.
        Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

            • Sure it is. It does suggest a willingness to accept a vulnerability for kidding and possible consent that it is OK with him, but in general using anyone’s size as a target is unfair. I knew it was a cheap shot, but decided it was worth nicking the rule to make a point about “I’ve heard a rumor…” And it made me laugh.

              I’d apologize to him for it, if I had the opportunity.

  5. Interestingly, there was another incident of violence at a Milo event last week that went underreported compared to the Berkeley riots. A man was shot outside the University of Washington over an argument about the speaker.

    The shooter was a Milo fan and a Trump supporter.


    Before this was confirmed, many people jumped to the conclusion that the shooter was a liberal who opposed Milo. Given the way liberal protesters have behaved at Milo events, this was a reasonable assumption. But now that it’s been confirmed that the shooter was a right-winger, I think we need to revisit the idea that the “violence problem” exists more on the left than it does on the right. As I said previously, left-wingers are more likely to engage in violent protests, but when you take into account politically motivated shootings, murders and terror attacks, I am not sure you can so easily say that politically motivated violence is more of a problem on the left than the right.

    • I don’t think anyone can so easily say the politically motivated violence WILL CONTINUE TO BE more of a problem on the left than the right. That gunshot of last week is a harbinger, I believe. It’s about fucking time.

    • Per your link, the shooter claims self defense. The police know who he is, and have not placed him under arrest, so they are at least considering his claim somewhat credible.

  6. I am a moderate with a slight lean to the left motivated by social issues. I was having a discussion with two of my sons who are also moderates. The lot of us bypassed both Trump and Clinton, but the tree of us have come to a conclusion that it will be most difficult to support any Democrat in the near future based on the antics and encouragement on display since the election. All three of us will spread our votes around from party to party, but the Democrats may have turned the three of us off their ledger.

  7. In my experience as a resident of the East Bay (Oakland/Berkeley), I find it more than likely that the “black bloc” rioters were indeed outside agitators in the sense of not being UC Berkeley students. They appear to be — and, again, if experience holds, are — the same nihilistic transplants from the Eugene, Oregon, area who fancy themselves anarchists and for six years have been fomenting violence at otherwise peaceful demonstrations and marches in Oakland and Berkeley. They’re even bragging about it today on Twitter under their various handles, which include @OccupyOakland and @OccupyThePort. And none of this means that Robert Reich is not a useful and duplicitous idiot.

    • You beat me to it, Molly. Just heard the same thing from a free-lance journalist* investigating the presence (verified) and source of the “outside agitators.” They were not the whole, but they are a well organized — strange as that may sound for a basically anarchist group — with what might be called a fan base of followers on many campuses. So it was a mix. And definitely coming from the Left.

      * There are a lot of “free-lancers” these days: older … and arguably wiser … experienced news investigators who adhere to the print media. And probably will stick to it if they have to dig out mimeograph machines and stick up flyers on the lampposts. It remains to be seen if there are enough interested readers left who pull off their earplugs and avert their eyes from their smart-phones long enough to take in well researched, well written, thoughtful arguments. Print Persists!

  8. MollyG; It also doesn’t mean that the rest of the group can be dissociated from their actions since they were cheering them on and shielding them when they withdrew into the crowd. I realise you weren’t suggesting that btw.

  9. When I read Reich’s remarks, I thought I was looking at the reverse of a report prepared for Hannity or O’Reilly, full of opinions and innuendo but lacking in verifiable facts. Only it was made by a leftist.
    The trouble with reports like this (from anywhere on the political spectrum) is that it takes so much effort to (a) disprove the allegations and (b) ascertain the actual facts.
    Blessed are those who rake the muck; they do this in our names and for our freedom.

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