It goes without saying that Milo Yiannopoulos can be a pretty vile person. If you know who he is, it’s probably because you’ve seen a video of him crashing Amber Rose’s “Slut Walk” to tell rape survivors they were asking for it. These appearances generally result in Milo checking every box on a laundry list of ways to offend: cultural appropriation, sexism, objectification, and any other hot button issue likely to land you an angered editorial from sites like Jezebel or Salon.
In the meantime, Yiannopoulos affectionately refers to Donald Trump as “Daddy” and writes spirited opinion pieces — that even in text read like speeches — predicting the end of rampant progressive values. Milo tells his followers that here is hope, that one day they will not have to tiptoe around proper gender pronouns in the workplace or find themselves in uncomfortable discussions about race.
Like much of conservative media, Milo paints these conflicts as a war fought in the name of liberty and freedom of expression: Feminists want to enslave men. Black people create the stereotypes that lead to police brutality. Yiannopoulos taps into the fear that political correctness is a witch hunt on the straight, white man.
That’s something that was on full display at a recent stop of Milo’s “Dangerous Fa**ot” tour at DePaul University where Black Lives Matter protesters stormed the stage and refused to allow him to speak, reported campus paper The DePaulia. One activist even shook her fist in Yiannopoulos’ face.
Which is why it’s not difficult to tie Milo to Trump. There are, after all, many parallels between their messages; but they diverge majorly when it comes to their approach. Yiannopoulos isn’t saying these things to drum up support — he’s using them as a form of counterinsurgency to make the left look completely unhinged. He even more or less admitted it at DePaul: “Look at these activists reinforcing black stereotypes!”
Milo’s recent appearance at DePaul is the perfect example of how successful he’s been with this blueprint. Yiannopoulos managed to amass a room of sexists, racists, and otherwise unpalatable people and still make the people attempting to stand up to his inflammatory comments look like the bad guys. Even the university’s president Dennis H. Holtschneider said that he was ashamed of the behavior he saw at the event, despite also condemning Milo.
“Generally, I do not respond to speakers of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ ilk, as I believe they are more entertainers and self-serving provocateurs than the public intellectuals they purport to be. Their shtick is to shock and incite a strong emotional response they can then use to discredit the moral high ground claimed by their opponents. This is unworthy of university discourse, but not unfamiliar across American higher education. There will always be speakers who exploit the differences within our human community to their own benefit, blissfully unconcerned with the damage they leave behind.”
— Milo Yiannopoulos ✘ (@Nero) May 25, 2016
Milo’s goal isn’t to spread conservative beliefs or even to give credence to the Donald Trump-voting side of the American public who feel like they’ve lost their voice. It’s to make Black Lives Matter, feminists, and other social justice movements look foolish, incoherent, and disrespectful. By learning how to incite them with his mere presence, Milo is able to appear the sane, rational one while espousing some truly awful beliefs. In their attempt to discredit Yiannopoulos, his detractors as DePaul University became his pawns.
— Shannon G. (@Liberal_Lunacy) May 25, 2016
Early fallout from the DePaul incident shows just that. Yiannopoulos has managed to make the DePaul’s young conservatives feel discriminated against: the university made them pay an additional $1,000 for security that refused to remove the Black Lives Matter protesters. Like some kind of free right-wing propaganda, there’s now video of the activists literally screaming over Milo to prevent him from expressing his beliefs.
The worst of it all is that Milo Yiannopoulos just sits in the middle of the stage making caustic jokes and appearing utterly unshakeable. But in the interest of the First Amendment and in the interests if free speech, shouldn’t Milo be entitled to share his views in public, without the threat of hateful protest and rock throwing?
[Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images and LeWeb Photos/Flickr]