At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7 in HUB 355, the UCR chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) hosted Libertarian commentator and YouTube star Julie Borowski to discuss political correctness, campus free speech and what it means to be a Libertarian. The event, with nearly one hundred people in attendance, began with an introduction by YAL member and first-year political science major Samir Al-Alami and YAL chapter president and fourth-year chemical engineering major Jonathan Potthast.
Borowski is a Washington, D.C. based political commentator who is best known for her YouTube channel garnering over eight million views. She formerly worked as a policy analyst for FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian think tank, and her writings have appeared in numerous media outlets like the Washington Examiner, Townhall and Daily Caller.
Borowski began her talk by discussing free speech on college campuses placing particular emphasis on the Wednesday, Feb. 1 riot at UC Berkeley after Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. “It turned into a violent riot where people were pepper-spraying each other and a lot of these people claim to be anti-fascist but their tactics are fascist by trying to shut down free speech.” She elaborated by saying “free speech is really important because, as a society; how are we going to pick what the best ideas are if we are not allowed to hear all of them?”
Borowski then transitioned into the next part of her talk by saying that since she was a political science major in a very liberal college, she wanted to “do something different on this college campus and give an alternative viewpoint” to what she deemed as the usual liberal opinion. She then gave “a primer on Libertarianism from A to Z” listing all of the issues Libertarians stand for in alphabetical order including gun rights, the war in Iraq, taxes, abortion and immigration.
The speech was followed by a Q-and-A with the audience which touched on topics such as vaccines, gun rights in California, hate speech and the future of the United States under the Trump administration.
However, not everyone agreed with Borowski. Nicolai Bonca, a second-year english major, expressed his difference of opinion, especially on Borowski’s positive comments about free-market capitalism. “I took issue with ‘yeah, if you have an idea, you can innovate, you can make money for yourself.’ This whole notion of ‘if you have an idea, if you have the willpower’ you can do whatever you want, I don’t agree with that,” stated Bonca. To Bonca, individuals are not free and within social structures by force. Femi Adeyamo, a first-year economics major, agreed with Borowski wholeheartedly. Adeyamo, who identifies as a moderate, said “I agreed with her on a lot of stuff, especially the drug war and military involvement” referencing her critical views on the war on drugs and War in Iraq.
Shortly after the event, the Highlander sat down with Borowski for a brief interview in which she discussed President Trump, immigration, mass media, college Libertarianism and political correctness. The interview follows and is slightly edited for clarity.
Evan Ismail: How do you believe we should handle the Middle East? Should we intervene, leave them alone, and if so, how should we go about it?
Julie Borowski: I believe in non-interventionism where we have to look at ‘is this in the best interest for the United States?’ ‘Is it self-defense?’ So, yes I would like the United States to completely leave the Middle East. I think it was a mistake to go in the first place; I would like to bring the troops home and actually focus on the problems here. Intervening overseas, especially with what we have seen with Syria actually makes the problem even worse. So, yes, come home.
Ismail: So based on that, if something happens to an ally for example, would you say leave them alone and let them fend for themselves or do you think in that case, we would help them?
Borowski: It depends on the situation but only if it’s in the self-defense of the United States because I don’t think we should get intertwined in battles overseas that have nothing to do with us. I believe we should be friends with other nations. I believe in free trade, completely, but as opposed to fighting wars for other countries, no I don’t think so. I think that costs way too much money and way too many American lives.
Ismail: For immigration, do you think our current policy is adequate or do you agree with Trump and what he’s doing with immigration? We’ve had some protests, recently, about his immigration policy, specifically, “No Ban No Wall,” so what is your take on what he is trying to do?
Borowski: Libertarians, like I said, are torn on immigration. I don’t believe in the wall myself; I don’t think it’s actually going to do anything because I think most of the problem is that people come here on visas and overstay. As far as the Muslim ban, I think that was implemented so poorly and so messily. It just happened when people were on the plane and they got stranded and even people with green cards were detained. So, I think that should have been better. I do think vetting the refugees is a good idea but opposed to completely shutting down immigration, no I don’t think that is a good idea.
Ismail: What do you think could be changed in our current political landscape? Do you think Trump would be open to a Libertarian viewpoint?
Borowski: I think Trump is open to some Libertarian ideas. I think that he would be good in that he would probably repeal Obamacare and audit the Federal Reserve. I think there should be more transparency, lower taxes, less regulation. Trump is not a Libertarian on civil liberties issues which I think could greatly be improved and as for foreign policy, I’m still not sure what a Trump foreign policy will be like. So, I think that will be very interesting to see. He’s open on some things but not so open on other things.
Ismail: I’d like to go back to your views on police. We’ve seen a lot of division and distrust between the police and the people so how do you suggest that civilians and the police can repair their relationship?
Borowski: I think ending the War on Drugs is a good step in the right direction because I think people, especially in the inner cities, are more afraid of police than ‘they’re there to protect me.’ So I think all those laws against victimless crimes where people are just hurting themselves should be repealed and be dealt with in a different matter to actually help people as opposed to harming them and throwing them in jail and taking them away from their families. I would like to go back to where police are actually protecting people with ‘don’t hurt other people’ and ‘don’t take their stuff’ as opposed to criminalizing plants.
Ismail: Trump has declared a “running war” on the media so do you think there has been dishonesty in the mainstream media toward Trump? Do you think this shows that Trump is actively trying to silence his critics?
Borowski: The media was extremely unfair towards Trump. The whole elections cycle they were just bashing Trump constantly while they were ignoring all of Hillary’s wrongdoings. And there was a lot of wrongdoings from Hillary from a liberal perspective even, so I think the media has been unfair. I think Trump needs to get better at learning how to handle criticism. He tends to lash out on Twitter when anyone says anything bad about him which I think he needs to handle better.
Ismail: We do not have a lot of right-wing or Libertarian speakers on this campus so what do you want tell students at UCR about libertarianism?
Borowski: First of all, I want to tell them to look into it and see what Libertarianism is about. Even if they don’t agree with it right away, at least be exposed to a different viewpoint. In college especially because the college I went to, I just heard about the liberal perspective. I think students should learn about other perspectives even if it’s just to have their own views challenged which I think you should do.
Ismail: You’re not very politically correct, so what do you think about the PC movement and politically correct speech and culture on campuses like UCR?
Borowski: I think political correctness has basically limited free speech to the point where people are afraid to say their own opinions. Like myself as a commentator, compared to a lot of conservative Libertarian speakers, it’s just unbelievable the kind of backlash I get for not being politically correct and I think I’m pretty tame. So I would say that people should speak their minds and let the chips fall as they may. But don’t go after somebody calling them racists and sexists over the littlest things.
Ismail: Building on that, do you think the political correctness on college campuses around the country and in our society in general is here to stay?
Borowski: I hope not. I think that one of the reasons that Trump was elected is because people are tired of PC culture. I can’t predict the future but I think it’s slowly starting to decline.