UPDATE: This post was originally written and published just prior to the pedophilia controversy that Milo found himself in. I’ve made a few small adjustments and added a new section (in the bottom half, titled “Is Milo a pedophile?”) to this writing piece to reflect these recent events. Hopefully Milo doesn’t get himself into any more trouble, since I don’t want to have to update this post a second time.
In my writing piece on Inauguration Day, I said I wasn’t going to do any more political posts for a few months, but in the time since then I’ve decided I’m going to make an amendment to that pledge. I’m not going to do any writing pieces related the Trump presidency until later this year, but there are other political topics that I think are worthy of being written about, so I’m giving myself leeway to write on them. That brings us to today’s post.
Like many people in this country, I watched in dismay as the University of California at Berkley campus devolved into rioting that centered around a planned speech by conservative writer and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. The former home of the Free Speech movement of the 1960s was now home to a movement intent on censoring views that it did not agree with, and in one regard they succeeded, seeing as how Milo’s talk was cancelled due to security concerns. The protestors did not want Milo speaking at their campus and sought to prevent anyone from hearing him, but as I read and watched news reports it occurred to me that their efforts were likely going to backfire. The reason for this being that the rioting had gotten me curious to know more about Milo, and I probably wasn’t alone in my curiosity. I had heard of Milo about a year or two ago and noticed his name had appeared a few times in my online readings, but I honestly knew next to nothing about him. Most of the time his name had come up in the past it was accompanied by charges of racism, sexism, Nazism, bigotry, fascism, and whatever other derogatory description you can come up with for a hated person these days. Apparently Milo was one of the worst human beings alive today, but having never looked into this I didn’t know if the accusations were true. So, I decided to do something really crazy—I decided to listen to some of Milo’s previous lectures and decide for myself if he really was the scum of the earth. Milo had been on tour at college campuses across the United States for the past several months and the audio from them was available on iTunes, so I downloaded six or seven lectures to listen to while at work, and at home I watched another two lectures on Youtube. After several days of watching, listening, and taking notes, I’ve come to few conclusions about Milo. Since I was trying to find answers to particular questions in my mind about him, I’ve laid out the first part of my thoughts in the form of questions and answers. After that are miscellaneous things I found interesting. Granted, Milo could be a completely different person in private, and I didn’t listen to all his lectures, so there are topics that I can’t cover here.
What are the basic facts about Milo?
Milo is a British national of Greek Jewish descent who is in his early 30s and is overtly homosexual. He is a journalist, author, speaker, podcaster, and until recently worked as a senior editor at Breitbart News. His politics can generally be described as conservative libertarian. Milo identifies himself as a Roman Catholic, but I’m guessing the Roman Catholicism he subscribes to is a liberal interpretation of it, given that his lifestyle is still considered sinful by official Roman Catholic teaching.
Is Milo a white supremacist?
I don’t think so, but I could see why some might think that. Milo calls himself a western values supremacist, by which he means that he believes western values, such as free speech, democracy, capitalism, property rights, etc., are the best values. These values of course are most closely associated with Western Europe and America, which historically have been predominantly white, but I’m guessing Milo would be quick to point out that it’s the ideas, not the people who produced them, that he champions. When it comes to race, Milo frequently jokes about his sexual preference for black men, and though he does not like the idea of reparations to blacks as compensation for the evils of slavery, (he sees it as punishing people for the sins of others) he does favor increased investment in black neighborhoods to help pull black communities out of poverty. A few more comments related to race came up when he talked about immigration, but I’ve put those farther down in the immigration section.
Is Milo a Nazi/Neo-Nazi?
No. Of all the vitriolic claims thrown at Milo, this one might be the dumbest. If Milo is a Nazi, then Nazism has taken a fabulously homosexual, pro-Semitic turn.
Is Milo a fascist?
No. This is almost as laughable the claim that Milo is a nazi. Since when are fascists such huge fans of the 1st and 2nd Amendments?
Is Milo critical of Islam?
Yes. Milo believes that Islamic values are fundamentally incompatible with western values and does not see a substantive difference between Islam’s radical and moderate elements. Having studied Islam’s history and literature, he believes it poses a great threat to western civilization and warns that Europe is slowing being destroyed by the mass influx of Muslims. A bit more on Milo’s view of Islam is further down in the immigration section. For my part, I can partly understand why Milo would be so hostile to Islam, due to the fact that as both an openly gay man and a Jew, he would likely be killed in short order if he lived in a country like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, etc.
What does Milo think of modern feminism?
Milo is very antagonistic of modern feminism and views it as a vast exercise in blame shifting. As he sees it, modern feminism teaches women that if anything bad happens to them it is the fault of some man somewhere, the patriarchy, or some other external malevolent force. He believes it robs women of the ability to make their own lives better and destroys personal responsibility.
What does Milo think of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement?
Milo views BLM much the same as he views modern feminism, in that it’s an exercise in blame shifting, and he refers to BLM as America’s socially acceptable hate group. In his opinion, BLM has done nothing for the black community other than set back race relations by decades.
Is Milo part of the Alt-Right?
I can’t say for sure on this one, as the Alt-Right movement is one that I’ve hard a hard time pinning down. As such, I going to have to take Milo at his word when he says he’s not. At one point in a lecture, Milo mentioned that he’s ok with foreign entanglements, which is something the Alt-Right generally seems to be opposed to, so at least on that front he’s not with them.
Is Milo a troll/provocateur?
Most definitely. Milo’s inner 14-year old is on full display in his lectures, and he loves nothing more than mocking the things he sees as stupid. At the same time, there is a method to the madness. In one of his lectures Milo explained that he actually doesn’t like upsetting people, but the reason he tells off-color jokes and other things that can offend is because he wants to show people that nothing bad happens when their feelings get hurt. He also believes humor is one of the best methods to get people thinking. With regards to his shock tactics, Milo mentioned in another lecture that he believes the polite conservatism of the preceding decades has failed, and thus he resorts to a more aggressive form of engagement.
Is Milo sexist?
Milo did tell a few jokes that could be construed as sexist, however I believe those were just part of his comedic troll persona, so I wouldn’t be comfortable in calling him sexist. My personal policy is to assume the best of people until proven otherwise, and since I don’t have any hard evidence of sexism I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s not.
Is Milo a pedophile?
I don’t know. We have no actual evidence that Milo is engaged in pedophilia, though from what I’ve read, he was himself the victim of sexual abuse from a priest when he was a teenager. What we do have are video and audio of comments Milo made over a year ago (which have been publicly available since then but for some reason didn’t cause a stir until now) in which he appears to condone consensual homosexual relationships between men and boys. The problem here is that Milo’s linguistic gymnastics in the conversation make it difficult to make a definitive case either way. On February 19th, Milo published a Facebook post (which can be read here) that I would recommend people read in order to get his rebuttal to the charges being made against him.
Is Milo anti-immigration?
Yes, but to be sure he’s against very specific types of it. The first kind of immigration Milo opposes is mass immigration of people groups that in his opinion don’t share western values and are not interested in taking on those values and/or assimilating into western society. Milo spoke very highly of Indians, Africans, and other groups that have integrated into British society, but states that Britain is having significant problems with Muslim communities not assimilating. I have read reports in the past about problems that Britain, Germany and France have been having with Muslim immigrants, so there may be truth to his claims, but since I don’t know the ins-and-outs of current British and European societies I can’t confirm them. The other kind of immigration he opposes is mass immigration of unskilled labor, as he argues it tends to lead to wage depression for low skill workers.
What is Milo’s position on the Transgender Revolution?
Milo disagrees with the notion that gender is a social construct and is not in favor of the Transgender Revolution, which I was surprised to learn, as you don’t normally hear one member of the LGBT movement calling out another bloc within the movement. In his opinion transgenderism is a mental disorder that has been politicized and our society’s attempts to normalize it are harming people rather than helping them. He believes that one day this period will be looked back upon as one of our society’s great mistakes that hurt scores of people.
* Milo is against safe spaces, trigger warnings, and coddling students in college.
* At times it can be hard to tell Milo’s jokes from his serious talk. This may be part of the reason why people think he holds views that he actually doesn’t.
* Milo shows a very high level of patience with audience interruptions. At his lecture at a university in Wisconsin he was interrupted multiple times by hecklers but didn’t get flustered and didn’t let it stop his lecture. He even interacted with those shouting at him, going so far as to give one heckler the microphone and started a dialogue with him. I was quite impressed by Milo’s ability to maintain composure and his willingness to interact with critics.
* Related to that last point, if you decide to heckle Milo, be ready for his response. He comes well prepared to each lecture and has a fair amount of information memorized to unleash on those who challenge him. Two hecklers in particular got intellectual beat downs from Milo when they came after him haphazardly.
* Milo clearly revels in the hate that comes his way. His audio recordings start off with a statement that they are being broadcasted from Mordor, the Borg Cube, and Voldermort’s lair, all at the same time, and that he is “the most fabulous super villain on the internet.”
* In one lecture Milo mentioned that he gets a lot of hate from the far-right groups such as Stormfront (which is comprised of actual white supremacists and neo-Nazis). It would seem Milo has made enemies at both ends of the political spectrum.
* Milo’s popularity skyrocketed following his ban from Twitter, (he had about 338k followers before the ban) which was the result of a spat between him and actress Leslie Jones. Milo says this was the best thing that ever happened to his professional career, and that he wouldn’t go back on Twitter even if they begged him. Some of the accusations of racism seem to revolve around the Twitter ban. The whole thing started with Milo’s very negative review of the most recent Ghostbusters movie. One of the criticisms in his review was what he saw as a disappointingly stereotypical African American character played by Leslie Jones. Later in the day after publishing his review, Milo noticed that Leslie Jones was trying to pick a fight with people on Twitter who were sending her racist tweets. Being the troll that he is, Milo couldn’t resist jumping into the fray to mock what he saw as Leslie Jones’ overreaction and over the next several hours he traded jabs with Leslie Jones until she blocked him. Not long after this, Leslie Jones announced she was leaving Twitter, and some time later Twitter announced they were permanently suspending Milo’s account. I don’t know if any of the people who were tweeting racist things at Leslie Jones got banned.
* Short ads are interspersed in Milo’s audio recordings (about two per hour). I realize these ads are needed to keep Milo in business, but sometimes they are awkwardly placed and can break the flow of an argument.
* Milo does not charge speaking fees, though he did mention that several universities have tried to stop his lectures by imposing last-minute security charges of thousands of dollars on the students who organized them.
* Milo is against sin taxes because he believes they disproportionately hit the lower classes. In his view, taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and other vices are punishing poorer people for some of the few pleasures they have in life.
* In listening to Milo’s lectures, I can’t help but notice what seem like two distinct Milo personas. On one hand we have the 14-year old Milo, who is dishing out jokes and making jabs, and on the other hand we have the calm, intellectual Milo, who is carefully developing his line of argumentation and supplying data to support his position. Milo has developed a good balance between the two, which is no doubt the result of all the practice he’s had in public speaking.
That’s the information I was able to garner from my time watching and listening to Milo. Having watched and listened to his lectures, in their entirety and in context, I have a better understanding now of what he is and what he is not, though there are some gaps in my knowledge of him that remain to be filled. Personally, I would disagree with Milo on a number points, and I certainly don’t care for some of the language he uses, but at the same time I can’t deny that he’s a fascinating individual and I can see why he has attracting both a legion of adoring fans, as well as large mass of critics. The recent pedophilia scandal will no doubt put a massive black mark on his name, and maybe will even end his career entirely, but it’s still too soon to tell.