Writers like myself have to be careful when addressing famous figures currently associated with the Alt Right. While I contribute as well as I can, offering insights, ideas, and disseminating information from the sidelines, what I do pales in comparison to what the movement’s leaders and central figures contribute. It is mostly out of gratitude and humility that I refrain from making critical comments about these people. A lieutenant is entitled to an opinion on what the generals are doing, but sharing those opinions when unsolicited by those generals would be impertinent indeed.
I do have a negative opinion of a small number of people on the Alt Right. But as a rule, I keep them to myself.
With Milo Yiannopoulos, however, I’ve decided to break this rule, in part because he’s not really part of the Alt Right (loosely associated with it, perhaps), but also because I have mostly positive things to say about him. He’s not a Ben Shapiro or a Jonah Goldberg (about whom I have also written), who are actively working against our interests despite being nominal conservatives. I’m weighing in on Milo mostly because he’s interesting, and because, in light of his recent scandal, he’s become a polarizing figure on the Alt Right, revealing fissures and divides that one day could possibly harm the movement. The sooner we begin to talk about these, the better.
First, I would like to remove my Alt Right armband and White Nationalist monocle and approach L’Affaire de Milo as a regular, non-political normie who recognizes the obvious: Milo creates amazing drama. He is, above all else, entertaining. This is by no means a slight. The ability to entertain is a gift, and people have a real need for it. Love him or hate him, Milo Yiannopoulos makes the news not just fun, but riveting. Millions now want to know what he’s going to do next, which is great for business if you’re in the media. Further, he looks the part. With his poofy blonde haircut and protean wardrobe, one must look to David Bowie or Madonna for comparisons. In fact, his story is a lot like that of a comic hero in a novel, and we’re watching the plot as it unfolds. The first act covers his brilliant rise as an acid-tongued provocateur. The second act depicts his days as one of the world’s most visible culture warriors. In the third act, he is alienated from the Right and earns bitter enemies on the Left. We’re in the fourth act right now, witnessing his crashing downfall and comeuppance. Will there be a fifth act? Will Milo succumb or overcome?
I don’t know. As with any great story, however, I cannot wait to find out.
I predict that in twenty years, there will be a Hollywood biopic about Milo, not to mention a reality TV show and Milo’s own late-night talk show. Biographers and screenwriters would be fools not to start revving their search engines right now. There’s a lot of money in Milo. Most people just don’t realize it yet.
In addition, if you’ll pardon the expression, Milo has balls of brass. He’s as outspokenly conservative as he is flamboyantly gay. He delights in tweaking the Left in nearly all of its sensitive areas. But he doesn’t tweak for the sake of tweaking. There is nothing about him that suggests he isn’t genuine about his politics and his contempt for the hypocrisy and tyranny of the Left. He’s also literate about it, seems to have unlimited confidence in himself, and is afraid of no one. “Dangerous Faggot,” indeed.
Milo’s greatest talent, I believe, is the speed with which he can formulate arguments or witticisms. He is frightfully fast. I have never learned terribly much from Milo. When I read his writing or hear him speak, as proficient as he is, I think to myself, “I can put those thoughts together too,” or, “I have said something similar before.” But to do it all in real time? On the fly? Without embarrassing myself? In front of millions of viewers? No way. Milo has a rare talent that allows him to do all of these things. It doesn’t take much for audiences to enjoy him.
Milo becomes most controversial when he goes down avenues that lead away from the mainstream. The Left barely engages with his flamboyant homosexuality and mostly with his politics. On the Right, it’s the other way around. Since Milo is center-Right to begin with, it makes sense that he has found a home in the Alt Lite. He’s a civic nationalist like President Trump. He gets along famously with fellow wit and gadfly Ann Coulter. He’s an outspoken Western chauvinist who recognizes quite clearly the threat that both the Left and Islam pose to our civilization. He knows that the Right must defeat both at all costs. This certainly makes him edgier than the National Review/Weekly Standard crowd. The Alt Lite is where he belongs.
To the right of the Alt Lite is where things get a bit dicier for Milo. For one, Milo is reportedly half-white and half-Jewish and refuses any clear-cut racial identity in either direction. In fact, he doesn’t discuss race much at all. These two factors alone are enough to disqualify him from many of the ranks of the Alt Right (or what some would call the “Alt White” wing of the Alt Right). Clearly, Milo has many of the same enemies the Alt Right has, and he is one of the most effective and charismatic combatants in the greater Left-Right culture war. So, it would seem that the Alt Right would be cheering him on, perhaps from a distance, but with the same enthusiasm it shows for other edgier conservatives (such as Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch or John Derbyshire) who aren’t quite Alt but still dare to show their faces in the mainstream political arena.
While Milo, of course, does have fans on the Alt Right (Vox Day is a good example), it seems that his currency had become quite devalued in such circles well before his recent debacle. Why this is and whether it is a good thing is something I believe many of us struggle with. He’s an ally, but does he do more harm to the Alt Right than good? Does he call too much attention to himself? Is he such a hedonist and drama queen that he repels more than he attracts?
The Alt Right’s main problem with Milo is not so much his homosexuality but the depraved levels to which he takes it. He brags about his black boyfriends and his promiscuous lifestyle. He can be terribly crude. He makes light of pedophilia, or rather the sexual abuse he experienced as a thirteen-year-old. I wouldn’t say the abuse he “suffered,” since, to hear Milo describe it, he didn’t suffer at all. In fact, the Catholic priest whom Milo claims took his virginity was nothing more than his Humbert Humbert, a man who could justifiably swear that it was rather the boy, that little nymph, who had seduced him!
His sin, his soul. His Milo-lita.
There are two powerful and sometimes competing ideological factions that I have seen in the Alt Right. I would call them the Traditionalists and the Libertarians. Sure, they both subsume all their lesser interests to their racial identity, as they should. In fact, they make excellent allies, but they are different. Of course, the Traditionalists despise Milo. They could never accept someone like him. He may talk a good game about many of the ideals the Traditionalists hold dear, and he may walk like he talks it right into enemy territory if necessary. But who he is and how he behaves belies all that. To a Traditionalist and man of the Right, Milo Yiannopoulos is nothing more than a quick-talking, immoral heathen. Someone not to be trusted. He’s saying the right things now. Who knows what he’ll say in the future?
The Libertarians are typically more inclined to defend Milo and forgive what they would consider his more flamboyant foibles. After all, we have a culture war to wage, and not all our allies will suit our fancies. Furthermore, Libertarians tend to value freedom more than most. So, what consenting non-adults do in the privacy of their own boarding schools and at seedy Hollywood parties, well, that’s not anyone’s business, is it?
Only, it is. Stefan Molyneux gives a well thought-out roundup of the whole messy affair which has finally brought Milo down. He (Milo, that is) made light of pedophilia. He claimed that some under-aged boys are competent enough to grant consent. He (perhaps unwittingly) blurred the line between a “boy” and a “young boy” when it comes to homosexual relations with older men. And he claimed to have witnessed the drugging and raping of young boys at Hollywood parties without going to the police or naming names.
After watching Molyneux’s 42-minute talk on Milo, it’s become clear that the Libertarian wing of the Alt Right is less interested in defending Milo than it once was. That’s bad, and Milo is now suffering for it. He’s lost his lucrative book deal with Simon & Schuster. He’s resigned from Breitbart. He was disinvited from CPAC. He gave a downbeat, yet classy, press conference. But despite his apologies and his categorical condemnation of pedophilia, some questions remain unanswered.
Here is the crux of the matter: what do we do about it?
From what I can tell, most on the Alt Right have shown a level of empathy for Milo and have kept their swords in their scabbards. They aren’t going after him, but at the same time, they aren’t exactly picking him up by his pink, frizzy bootstraps, either. And that’s understandable given the Alt Right’s perfectly reasonable ambivalence towards him. However, I would like to argue that perhaps we should at least reach out to him and offer encouragement during this difficult time.
For one, I don’t believe Milo really harms the Alt Right brand. He doesn’t claim to be one of us, and we certainly don’t take him for one of our own. He may flit around our periphery and say and do embarrassing things from time to time, but Milo has been around for a while, and the Alt Right, despite all the knocks it has been taking lately, is as influential as ever. I guess I just don’t see the mechanism which links Milo in drag talking about interracial fellatio to any broken dreams of the Alt Right. If one is repulsed by Milo’s antics, one is more than halfway to the Alt Right already. Traditionalists have a nice, cozy home in the Alt Right, and these are the people who are most disgusted with Milo. If anything, Milo is scaring such people away from the center and towards the real estate on the Right where such behavior is not tolerated.
And if one is not repulsed by Milo? Then it’s win-win for the Alt Right.
Also, we should consider Milo within the context of other non-Alt Right figures who combat the Left. I have already mentioned Robert Spencer and John Derbyshire. Others include Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, Pamela Geller, and many more. They all do good work, no doubt, and share varying degrees of apprehension about the Alt Right. But is your average person as aware of them as they are of Milo? In other words, we can ask Milo to tone it down, but would Milo be so huge and fabulous if he did? Robert Spencer is nothing but toned down. While I love Jihad Watch and I am sure he is responsible for steering a goodly number of folks into our camp over the years, I get the feeling that Spencer doesn’t reach a fraction of the people Milo does. He’s not a star, you see.
My hunch is that the only people so repulsed by Milo that they would condemn the Alt Right along with him are people who are not terribly interested in politics to begin with. Such people are too lazy to do the fifteen minutes of research required to distinguish Milo from the Alt Right, or to realize what an interesting and perhaps even tragic character he really is. Such people are looking for reasons not to care, and if they don’t find it in Milo, they will find it in someone else. People for whom Milo pushes them away from the Right sure as heck won’t flee Leftwards, since Milo-like behavior is practically the norm over there. They will either show their squishy stripes and hang out in the center, or they will duck out of the Right-Left divide altogether. In other words, such people were never going to join the Alt Right to begin with.
Secondly, the Right is stronger with Milo than without him, and whether he disgusts us has nothing to do with it. After watching Molyneux’s prosecutorial exegesis on Milo, I am convinced as ever of Molyneux’s titanic sense of truth and justice. I just don’t agree with him. We’re at war. Politics today is a proxy for the civil war that I’m afraid will tear America to shreds in the coming years. Now is not the time for too many scruples. Of course, if Milo were indeed a pederast, past or present, we should throw him under the bus and make sure he stays there. If he were to promote pederasty or start speaking approvingly of organizations like NAMBLA, then we’ll drive the damn bus over him ourselves. If he were to even achieve Michael Jackson-levels of reasonable-doubt creepiness with young men who then accuse him of committing vile acts, under the bus he goes. On the Right, we should have zero tolerance for adults who prey on children.
But that’s not what Milo does or has ever done as far as we know. He’s guilty of making light of pederasty and saying a few things that may or may not blur the line concerning boys and consent. Consulting the recordings, as well as by applying Occam’s Razor, I find that some of this may have sprung from Milo’s rolling with one outrageous statement after another in order to entertain. How else can we interpret his outlandish claim that he’s grateful to the priest who molested him for perfecting his skills at oral sex? This is merely a brag, a joke even. Something said to elicit shock and laughter and not to be taken literally. Remember, Milo is not just a journalist, pundit, and celebrity. He’s also an entertainer. And sometimes, as Michael Richards of Seinfeld discovered a few years ago, entertainers can stray into dangerous territory when on a roll.
So, I am not terribly concerned about Milo’s sins. Nor should any of us be. Stefan Molyneux claims that the fact that Milo is better than someone like Lena Dunham is not an argument. Again, I disagree. When our enemies start talking about their unsavory characters, like Dunham, who in her memoirs admitted to molesting her younger sister and now gets a show on HBO, then maybe we can talk about Milo. Maybe. Until then, the fight continues, Marquis of Queensbury be damned.
My third argument comes in the form of a terrifying premonition. To those of us on the Alt Right who feel annoyed or disgusted by Milo, imagine how annoyed or disgusted you would feel if Milo were to switch sides and start fighting against us? Supposing one day, Milo were to read some of the abuse he receives in the comments sections of Alt Right Websites and then suddenly decide to turn on us? Unlikely, perhaps, but not unprecedented. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs effected such an about-face. So did Glenn Beck. And given the way Milo constantly reinvents himself with one stunt after another, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that he would do such a thing as well. In any event, the Left would certainly take him in, and, make no mistake, with his star power and chutzpah, he could do damage to the Alt Right.
So I think it might be prudent if we didn’t push him away from us too hard.
My final argument stems from my opinion that Milo, despite his debauched lifestyle, is fundamentally a good person. Of course, his apologies and retractions during his recent press conference were entirely appropriate. He seemed sincerely chastened, as well he should be. But I’m thinking of a college talk he once gave in which a conservative student asked him how he should fight the Left on campus. Milo didn’t even hesitate in his response. He told the kid to study hard, get a real career, make money, marry a hot wife, have kids, and be happy. That, according to Milo, is the best revenge we can take against the Left. Upon hearing that, I was bowled over almost to the point of tears with the sweetness of such a sentiment. Milo, I realized, gets it. Here we have a profligate sinner, bent as all get out, a “dangerous faggot” who in all likelihood is flaming his way into Hell as we speak . . . and he realizes that it’s not about him! It’s about us. It’s about those of us who care about the future and the ancient ideals which built our civilization to begin with.
So, Milo, if you’re reading this, thank you for that. I hope you get your affairs in order soon and bounce back from all of this. I can’t speak for everyone on the Alt Right, but I’m rooting for you, baby. Even if it is from a distance.