Milo Yiannopoulos, who writes for the “alt right” (i.e. white supremacist or neo-fascist) website Breitbart.com, is a master at victimizing other people and then claiming victim status for himself when he’s hit back. For example, he actually took advantage of a position in the White House Press Corps to whine to former President Obama about Twitter taking his blue checkmark away. And unfortunately, Yiannopoulos has all too many enablers on the so-called “libertarian” Right. His latest misappropriation of victim status follows the cancellation of his appearance at UC Berkeley January 31, because of the administration’s alleged safety concerns over violent demonstrations. And Reason‘s Robby Soave — who apparently has Google News notifications set for “micro-aggression,” “cultural appropriation” and “safe space” — is boo-hooing along in perfect harmony (“UC-Berkeley Protesters Set Campus on Fire, Shut Down Milo Yiannopoulos Event,” Feb. 1).
Soave, interestingly, reserves the term “despicable” for the demonstrators’ “display of violence and censorship,” preferring the weasel-word “controversial” for Yiannopoulos — an idol among “race realists,” men’s rights activists, GamerGaters, channers and all the other maggot-infested chunks in the rancid stew of the Breitbart readership. Says something about Soave’s moral priorities there. He also uncritically regurgitates Yiannopoulos’s spin that “the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech.”
This begs the question of whether Yiannopoulos’s appearace was in fact just about “speech,” or maybe something more — an inconvenient question Soave manifestly has no interest in investigating because it doesn’t fit into his preferred narrative. Not once in Soave’s by-the-numbers article does he address the question of what Yiannopoulos actually came to Berkeley to do.
Yiannopoulos has a history of crossing the line between “free speech” and concrete action. He was banned from Twitter last year for encouraging his followers to swarm Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with harassment. In an appearance at UW Milwaukee, he flashed the image of a campus transgender rights activist on screen and singled her out to his fratboy followers, resulting in a spiral of harassment that caused her to drop out of college. He actually gloated about her withdrawal in subsequent appearances, claiming he’d protected female students from being harassed by her in the locker room. This is the figure Robby Soave calls “controversial” — in the same sentence that he calls students “despicable” for trying to shut him down at Berkeley. Again, nice to know what his moral priorities are.
Yiannopoulos was reportedly planning to do the same thing at Berkeley, only on a much larger scale. His appearance at Berkeley was to focus on attacking its “sanctuary university” policy of protecting the personal information of undocumented students from federal immigration authorities. At The Independent, Maya Oppenheim (“UC Berkeley protests: Milo Yiannopoulos planned to ‘publicly name undocumented students’ in cancelled talk,” Feb. 3) quoted sources claiming that Yiannopoulos intended to out undocumented students in a livestream video of his appearance, and encourage local College Republican chapters to do likewise in defiance of sanctuary universities all over the country.
Yiannopoulos has denied these accusations, claiming he had planned to denounce the concept of cultural appropriation, while wearing a Native American headdress. But Breitbart.com is on record announcing, the previous day, that his theme would be sanctuary campuses and a call to prosecute campus officials for obstruction of justice. So it’s a safe bet he’s lying.
So let’s let this sink in. Outing undocumented students and siccing federal police on them isn’t just “speech.” It’s an action — an action that, despite Robby Soave’s reluctance to apply it to Yiannopoulos, is utterly despicable. I would go a step further and call it criminal, since it’s aiding and abetting an assault on the freedom of students guilty of no wrongdoing.
What Yiannopoulos intended to do was the moral equivalent of outing Anne Frank’s family to the Gestapo. (If that doesn’t strike any emotional chords with you, Robby, just pretend he was going to sic the police on vaping establishments.)
So to sum up, the demonstrations against Yiannopoulos’s appearance weren’t just about “free speech.” They were direct action in defense of some of the most vulnerable people on campus, against someone working in league with the police state to rob them of their basic human rights. Yiannopoulos is despicable, and any “libertarian” who defends him is likewise despicable.