The Yiannopolous-Hitchens Comparison

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Last month liberal talk show host Bill Maher, during an interview with Milo Yiannopolous, compared the controversial right-winger to a “young, gay, alive Christopher Hitchens.”

But such a comparison of Maher’s is false and does dirt to the much more thoughtful—and libertarian—Hitchens.

On sexuality alone, the two differ. Although Hitchens admitted to gay relationships in the past (some of whom were with Hitchens’ hated Tories who later served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet), he never engaged in bashing homosexuals as does Yiannopoulos.

It’s not just Hitchens’ public stances on homosexuality, endorsing gay marriage as a “form of love,” and attacking anti-sodomy laws, that frustrates any comparison with Yiannopoulos. It is that Hitchens in his time battled the kind of far right gay bashers of the Yiannopolous sort. He even argued that homosexuality was often the province of the right: “the sexual outlaw world may be anarchic, but it is also servile and deferential. It is, to put it crudely, generally right-wing.”

Hitchens asserted that those who railed loudest against homosexuality inviting in socialism and communism and a weakening of America’s moral fiber often engaged in homosexual acts:

“I keep an idle watch on new Congressmen in Washington and, also the electronic moralists of the airwaves. No sooner do they start bawling about sodomy and degeneracy than I contentedly set my timepiece. Soon enough, Congressman Snort will be found on all fours in the Capitol men’s room, his every negotiable crevice crammed with delinquent members.”

Hitchens’ above quote was validated in the 1980s in the person of the “social conservative” Congressman Robert Bauman of Maryland who gay-bashed with the Moral Majority but was caught soliciting the services of male prostitutes.

Another point of departure, one of the strongest for Hitchens with the right-winger of the Yiannopolous sort, was the view recently expressed by Yiannopolous that gay men should “stay or get back in the closet.” Hitchens instead argued that coming out was politically therapeutic, and resulted in the social conservative homosexual jettisoning self-hatred or “cover” or both, and becoming more empathetic:

“The way out of this morass is clear. It is marked by a simple signpost reading ‘Out.’ Once Bauman…and others acknowledged their homosexuality, they began to evolve politically. Bauman developed a hitherto unsuspected sympathy for the rights of blacks and women.”

Always a foe of political correctness, Hitchens did have harsh words for the “in your face” tactics of the homosexual community, and mocked the kind of gay movements that emerged in the 1990s, when political correctness really took off; he coined his own term to highlight the ridiculousness of the movements–The “Lesbian Puerto Rican Sisters for Sodomizing the Unborn.” But, aware of how the possibly latent J. Edgar Hoover and the undeniably overt Roy Cohn hunted and blackmailed homosexuals, likening them to communists in their threats to family values America, Hitchens believed that their targets coming out of the closet denied their counterparts ammunition: “The threat of being exposed is what spurs the witch hunter.”

One can certainly quarrel with the leftist Hitchens linking homosexual behavior almost solely to the far right. It is certainly true that Nazis like SA leader Ernst Roehm and much of the SS were gay (Nazism had a misogynist male body-worshipping aspect to it)–the latter worried SS head Heinrich Himmler so much that he issued a directive to SS officers ordering them to punish such acts among the troops during World War II. Despite more or less tolerating homosexuality with Roehm (who was executed during the Night of the Long Knives purge over the political threat he was assembling among those who believed Hitler was “betraying the revolution,” and not any sex acts), Hitler frequently railed against homosexuality, and along with Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, and Soviet prisoners, homosexuals were put in concentration camps.

But the Left has its own sorry record regarding their policies toward homosexuals. Soviet homosexuals caught in the act were quickly imprisoned in the Gulag, sometimes permanently. According to the Communist Party line, homosexuality was a disease brought on by–what else?–capitalism; and the regime, especially in the Soviet Union, always promoted healthy looking proletariat on tractors as the ideal male figure. As such, Stalin banned sodomy in 1934.

Whatever one thinks of homosexual sex, much of what Hoover and Cohn and the CIA and the far right (one of whose members, the kooky General Edwin Walker, who railed against JFK Cold
War “appeasement” and integration, was later arrested for soliciting an undercover FBI agent in the 1980s) attacked was consensual. What Stalin tolerated in the person of his Purge Trial enforcer Lavrentiy Beria was not. Beria cruised for women in his off hours, had them brought to his house, and raped them in a sound-proof room (“scream or not, it doesn’t matter”); many of whom were underage. In some cases, he then had them exiled to the Gulag or murdered.

Supportive of homosexual rights, Hitchens never descended to the Yiannopoulos level, however. He never, as did and does Yiannopoulos, label gay sex “aberrant,” or demanded that gay men stay in the closet, or advocate for man-underage-boy “love.” Despite Yiannopoulus’ public acknowledgment that he is a homosexual, he nevertheless fit Hitchen’s target—that of the hypocritical, over-compensating, far rightist gay.

Thus, Bill Maher, considerably over-rated as a political pundit, and his gushing comparison of Yiannopoulos with Hitchens, obviously suffers from a malady common to Americans in general and the Left in particular. He is taken in by the right-winger’s British accent, and—let’s be fair—wit and bluntness. As with the Left, Maher clearly admires Yiannopoulos for sticking to his guns. But it should be noted that such a quality is not always admirable. For Hitler, Mao, and Stalin stuck to their guns as well and imposed a treatment for their homosexuals which were much more dire than a return to the closet.

Ron Capshaw is a Senior Contributor to The Liberty Conservative from Midlothian, Va. His work has appeared in National Review, The Weekly Standard, and the American Spectator.

  • Stephen Woodley

    I’m a fan of both Hitchens and Yiannopoulos, but I also found the comparison slightly foolish – if not nauseating.
    I expect that you are right in your suggestion that Maher’s comparison was based on accent, eloquence and obstinence rather than ideology.

    If Hitchens were on that panel (rather than the ironically reactionary Larry Wilmore) there would have been a much more comprehensive repudiation of Milo’s deliberately provocative talking points – rather than a former intelligence officer, upon finding out that Yiannopoulos is British, telling him to ‘fuck off.’

    There can be much catharsis in taking on an easily debunked or simple argument and thoroughly disproving it. There is nothing more frustrating, however, than seeing the ‘right side’ of an argument presented by agenda-driven ideologues who fail to present any kind of case other than ‘Milo is mean.’