Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Milo, Berkeley and Fascism

Last week Milo Yiannopoulos was due to speak at University of California, Berkeley, as one of many speaking engagements on his 'Dangerous Faggot' (really!) tour of academic institutions that started during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Yiannopoulos is a British journalist and a senior editor with Breitbart News, the conservative news and opinion website that was run by Steve Bannon, who is now Assistant and Chief Strategist to President Trump. As the title of his speaking tour suggests, Yiannopoulos is gay and his views are considered by some people to be dangerous. His speaking engagements have attracted criticism and protest but none until now on the scale of what happened at Berkeley, where the protest became violent with masked, black-suited agitators smashing windows, tearing down crowd barriers, starting fires and throwing Molotov cocktails.

Yiannopolous burst on to the United States' political landscape last year like some British actors break into Hollywood - sort of a political version of Tom Hiddleston. He was a minor blogger specialising in technology and computer gaming (and was best known then for his articles on the 'Gamergate' controversy), before moving to America and latching onto the Trump campaign. The fact that he is gay, English, and highly articulate are all factors in his rise to prominence but undoubtedly it is his support for Trump that is the most significant reason why people started paying attention (after all, 'Gays for Trump' was a somewhat unexpected adjunct to the campaign of a Republican presidential candidate).

I have listened to several of Yiannopoulos's podcasts and I found it difficult to determine exactly what he believes because everything he says is delivered in a highly satirical manner. He has been accused of being homophobic, racist, sexist and Islamophobic, however, as a gay man who claims to prefer black men (at least sexually), it seems unlikely that he is guilty of the first two of these crimes. Women, or more precisely lesbians, are the target of much of his humour, but again he doesn't appear to be seriously misogynistic and the fact that young women are some of his most ardent supporters bears this out. He is certainly strongly critical of Islamic fundamentalism and he is a supporter of Trump's immigration ban, but in those views he is no more extreme than more mainstream conservative commentators like Mark Steyn and Douglas Murray.

In any event, even if he is seriously homophobic, racist, sexist and Islamophobic, that doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to express his views when he is invited to do so by student groups on American campuses. After all, the right to free speech is not there just to protect those whose views everyone agrees with.

Yiannopolous has been described, inevitably, as Fascist, but no behaviour seems so Fascist as that of the uniformed agitators who took over the Berkeley campus last week.

1 comment:

paul scott said...

Some of the Conservative right have completely closed out on MSM and read and view nothing of that trash. Tbe ground swell of communication and information is in dominance, and the liberal Nazi actions are seen as fomenting civil war.
We have no leaders apart from the President USA himself and the prophet Nigel Farage.
Other than that the field is wide open to people like Milo and the others.
We think that the Conservative, National, pro Western Civilisation Meme will develop for a generation, and we can not see its undoing. Our time is here and now, and we mean to win.