If you’re a conservative or libertarian who is active on social media, you have likely heard of the latest personality to sweep through the youth culture on the right, Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo, the self-described “Dangerous Faggot”, has made quite a name for himself with his campus tour bearing the “Dangerous Faggot Tour” moniker. His talks generally consist of Milo going to a college, reciting facts and delivering analysis on a variety of topics (whether it be Islam, feminism, immigration, “social justice” or a number of others which are big on campus) and watching the leftists on that campus go absolutely insane trying to shut him down. Whether it was social justice warriors smearing themselves with blood at Rutgers, assaulting Milo at DePaul, blowing air horns at him at Minnesota, interrupting him at colleges such as American University, UCLA and UMass-Amherst, and even blocking the entrance to his talk at UCLA, the left rarely disappoints to prove the exact point Milo is trying to make with their reaction to his talks. University administrators have also tried many times to shut Milo down. In one particularly disturbing case at DePaul, administrators actually ordered the police to not protect Milo from protestors who rushed the stage. This has been the story of his tour and by far the largest consequence of it.
One might consider these interruptions and the attempted silencing of Milo to be some sort of inconvenience or problem, but they are the entire reason Milo is out there doing what he is doing. Milo has been explicit as to how the left can defeat him; simply allow him to speak, and he will lose most of the notoriety he has gained almost over night. The left, as intellectually bankrupt as they are, can be counted on so thoroughly to act as they always have, to think in predictable and exploitable patterns and to prioritize feeling over fact. Milo’s recognition of this has allowed him to create a style which exploits their thinking patterns in a way which is tailor-made to drive home his major point.
That point is that the left has created a truly disgusting culture on American college campuses today, and they are trying to expand that culture nationwide. It is a culture of intimidation and silencing, a culture of virtue signaling taking priority over fact, and a culture of intellectual diversity (particularly in the political arena) being seen as an impediment to their end goal of “social justice”. This cultural Marxism has made our society less free and less intellectually diverse, particularly on our college campuses and in the cities which house them. The culture of intimidating those who hold opinions which the left wrongfully perceives as racist, of intimidating those who hold opinions which the left wrongly perceives as homophobic, of intimidating those who hold opinions which the left wrongly perceives as sexist, is a culture which is designed to take as many political issues as possible and make it socially stigmatizing to hold an opinion that is contrary to the leftist point of view. Ultimately this plan is about turning conservatism into a socially unacceptable ideology which is unwelcome in polite society. It is a sort of cultural terrorism which has infected communities across the nation, including my hometown.
Being a former GOP town Chair in a small liberal county which houses three colleges, I can tell you first hand that businesses in our area are afraid to contribute to the Republican Party for fear of being targeted. The best and brightest Republicans in our county can often be found sitting on the sidelines, attempting to lay low and not draw attention to their political ideas. It is actually somewhat perilous for me to engage in the sort of activism I do considering my own family has a business in this town. This has led to a situation where I will engage in national politics but am very hesitant to engage in local politics, a situation where I can be an editor of The Liberty Conservative, yet I feel threatened to write a letter to the editor of my local paper. I tell you this because this is what the campus left wants to turn your communities into – places where your ideas are taboo and something to be hidden instead of places where free exchange of ideas are openly celebrated. They want to take the range of allowable opinion in our society and narrow it radically, essentially attempting to intimidate society into holding uniformly leftist opinions.
The response among students on campuses who face similar social pressures has been to champion the cultural libertarianism of Milo Yiannopolous, whose persona represents the greatest attack on this culture of intimidation and fear that has been seen in the 21st century. Milo goes out and champions the very opinions that the left seeks to ban; concern over immigration, fear of Islam’s influence on our society, ridiculing the idea of rape culture and the gender pay gap, and most prominently of all support for Donald Trump. These are, frankly, mostly ideas which I largely disagree with (to varying degrees). I don’t support Donald Trump, I believe in largely open borders and I think Islam’s negative effects on our society pale in comparison to the effects of big government. Even still, I appreciate that Milo uses these specific issues because they are the most prominent examples of perfectly legitimate opinions which the left has already made it socially unacceptable to hold. We should have a culture where people have a right to hold opinions which are contrary to the opinions of the majority of the people around them without being socially ostracized for it. We should have a culture which encourages the free exchange of ideas, not pigeon holing everybody into one or two ways of thinking.
One would think this approach would be embraced by the leaders of the liberty movement, who should appreciate a culture of free exchange and should appreciate Milo’s contribution to the idea that we should be allowed to discuss our opinions without being socially ostracized.
Unfortunately, to this point, it appears they would be wrong.
The most prominent example of libertarian tone deafness on the subject of Milo has to be the completely unnecessary and unprovoked hit piece on Milo that was written by Jack Hunter. Jack is probably my greatest personal influence as a writer; he is a true liberty movement guy and has almost always framed things in a way that is beneficial to movement building, which makes this move all the more puzzling. Jack accuses Milo of being the face of the alt-right, an accusation which is flatly false. As Milo pointed out in his response piece, alt-right hardliners hate him because he’s a race mixing gay Jew and thus he is no alt-right ringleader by any stretch of the imagination. This accusation towards Milo reveals a lack of serious examination of what he is doing and why, and what the libertarian implications of his message will be. You can only come to Jack’s conclusion if you’re really not drilling down very deep into the issue. Libertarians should care more that he is defending their right to free expression than about his support of Donald Trump. Libertarians should care more that he is looking to create a more free culture through discussion of issues like immigration and Islam rather than focusing so narrowly on the merits of his ideas on those issues themselves. Libertarians should care more that he is attacking cultural Marxism than they do about some good-natured jokes at our expense in his act. His fight is our fight, and if we don’t think the culture he is fighting against will be turned on libertarians the minute the left attempts to encroach on our liberty along racial or gender grounds, we are truly an ignorant bunch.
This disturbing, unnecessary, unproductive fight between two great writers who should be teaming up in defense of liberty was only compounded days later by the controversy surrounding Young Americans for Liberty’s relationship with Milo. Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) hosted Milo on several campuses, including American University, Rutgers and UC Santa Barbara. That being said, after the UC Santa Barbara event there was much confusion as to whether or not YAL had blacklisted Milo from speaking at their events. As The College Fix reported, a YAL employee apparently posted a message to the YAL Chapter President’s Facebook group stating that “YAL National does not support hosting Milo Yiannopoulos events, and any event featuring him must be disassociated with the YAL brand entirely”, and after that a social media firestorm ensued. YAL Executive Director Cliff Maloney later clarified that the organization’s relationship with Milo remains unchanged. I know Cliff to be a good and honest man – I believe this is YAL’s policy moving forward, but given the evidence presented in The College Fix it does appear that either a decision was made and then reversed or a very high level YAL employee stepped way out of line by posting his personal opinion as a representation of official policy. Either one brings up the sort of questions about YAL’s effectiveness in fighting this battle for free speech on campus going forward that I never thought I would have to ask. If you are hesitant to associate yourself with the greatest champion of this movement in the country how can you be effective in fighting it? I was thrilled to see Milo at so many YAL events and I hope that going forward they will continue to host Milo and fully fund Milo events as they have in the past.
I believe at the core of this hesitance to embrace Milo is that it represents a sharp departure from the strategy that the majority of campus libertarians have taken over the past several years, which has been to market libertarianism as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and therefore more tolerable to call yourself than conservative on campus. This approach plays into the cultural Marxist reality of campuses today and attempts to grow liberty within that framework. The approach was personified by Students for Liberty president Alex McCobin’s embarrassing performance at a CPAC youth outreach panel, calling conservative a “dirty word” and attempting to essentially play into the social stigma argument which the left has so successfully created. When Milo attacks that paradigm he renders that method of recruiting ineffective, so it’s somewhat understandable that there is pushback. That being said, this pushback is completely unwarranted when such amazing gains for the perception of liberty on campus are being made; when we are actually beginning to turn the narrative around and expose to the people that today’s students live under a cultural tyranny. Milo shouldn’t have to adjust his rhetoric to placate these groups – he is fighting this fight more effectively than they are, and they need to learn from what he is doing and adjust accordingly.
To say the response of the liberty movement’s leadership to the Milo phenomenon is disheartening would be a major understatement. It is a response that, unless rapidly corrected, threatens to limit our effectiveness in the fight for liberty on campus and in college towns. It threatens to limit our effectiveness in stopping the spread of the cancer of cultural Marxism, an issue which libertarians need to start becoming far more concerned about going forward. We are libertarians, that means we have a moral obligation to defend liberty. Defending liberty doesn’t stop at the legislative level; in order to have a truly free society, you must also defend a culture of free expression. In order to truly claim the mantle of liberty, you must defend one’s right to state their opinion without being personally harmed for doing so. Campus libertarians have been presented with a choice: attack the cultural Marxism of the left in what’s been proven to be a highly effective manner, or continue to play into their paradigm and try to satisfy qualifications which are fundamentally anti liberty. The choice we must make is clear – the liberty movement must stand steadfast against cultural Marxism and the cultural rot that it brings. I have confidence that we will choose liberty and continue to attack this rancid culture that has permeated our campuses until we have eradicated it for good.