Milo Yiannopoulos Finally Crashes and Burns

February 24, 2017

Photo by NEXTConf (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by NEXTConf (CC BY 2.0)

Tuesday afternoon, Milo Yiannopoulos resigned as Senior Editor of alt-right Breitbart News after a video revealed him condoning pedophilia. Conservatives criticized and distanced themselves from the notorious provocateur. Soon after, he was disinvited from speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week. Later, publishing giant Simon & Schuster cancelled his $250,000 publishing deal.

His Condemnation Was Long Overdue

Organizations and individuals are now distancing themselves from Yiannopoulos, but he should have never been given a platform from the beginning. Well-known for his offensive, derogatory statements, he has consistently attacked Muslims, immigrants, the LGBT community, and women. He has tested the limits of how far he can go with his intentionally harmful language. Speech that targets entire groups of people enables the violent behavior of people like Dylann Roof and other right-wing extremists and white supremacists.

His destructive rhetoric has been adopted by some of the most powerful policymakers and opinion shapers in America, namely President Trump and White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon. Bannon considers Yiannopoulos’s work to be “valuable” and Trump referred to Yiannopoulos as “innocent,” when he threatened to cut UC Berkeley’s federal funding after campus officials canceled a planned speech in reaction to violent protests.

The conference is considered to be the face of the conservative movement. But, by extending a CPAC invitation to Yiannopoulos, American conservatism demonstrated that those on the fringe are now part of the mainstream. It seems that “Trumpism,” white supremacy, and white nationalism are now welcomed openly by American conservatism.

Desperate Reassessment of Ethics Needed

Media outlets profit off Yiannopoulos’ controversial rhetoric and fueled his popularity. Shrugging when they hear his hate speech, many continue to stand with him ? validating his views and allowing his destructive influence to go unchecked. Enablers like Bill Maher amplify Yiannopoulos’ views by showcasing him on popular primetime programs.

The complacency of Republicans who previously denounced Trump is an indicator of how the problem extends beyond news outlets. As the head of Breitbart News, Bannon successfully pushed an agenda of nationalism and white supremacy to the forefront of American policy and continues to do so as the top White House strategist.

Conservatives need to reassess their continued tolerance and support for hateful and offensive speech. By providing Yiannopoulos with a soapbox, organizations like the American Conservative Union and Simon & Schuster have advanced his agenda. While the Constitution prevents the government from restricting speech, private citizens, businesses, and organizations do not have to tolerate hateful messages and need to be active in condemning, shaming, and marginalizing harmful speech and behavior.

Yiannopoulos and the alt-right believe that a person who isn’t a white male is inferior, undesirable, and not welcomed. This is not a conservative agenda. Conservatives need to remind themselves of this and that America, a nation of immigrants, is made up of people of different backgrounds who are here to stay. As the late Woody Guthrie sang, “this land was made for you and me.”

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