Milo Yiannopoulos might have been forced to cancel his recent appearance at U.C. Berkeley following riotous protests in the streets, but his “dangerous” message hasn’t been silenced.
After his upcoming book, Dangerous, appeared for pre-order on Amazon, it rocketed to the top of the site’s hourly updated best-seller list. The book is slated to hit bookstores on March 14. In second: the now-restocked mass-market edition of 1984 by George Orwell.
Yiannopoulos’ publisher Threshold, a conservative nonfiction imprint at Simon & Schuster, stood by their decision to print the book despite widespread outcry over giving the “alt-right” poster boy and notorious Twitter bully such a respectable platform. Financially, this appears to have been a solid bet. Despite the mass protests and sudden popularity of anti-authoritarian literature witnessed in the streets and on best-seller lists, respectively, in the past few weeks, hard-right viewpoints still muster plenty of support.
Threshold described Dangerous, in a statement confirming the book deal, as “a book on free speech.” Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart News and popular speaker in alt-right circles, told The Hollywood Reporter that he “spent half an hour trying to shock [Simon & Schuster executives] with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”
On Breitbart, and during his “Dangerous Faggot” speaking tour, he has repeatedly espoused such “outrageous opinions” as the assertion that transgender people are “deeply mentally damaged,” that the U.S. has a “Muslim problem,” and that women should leave the internet to make it more fun for men.
Yiannopoulos’ provocative stances have been termed hate speech by some critics, and CNN noted recently that his college speaking tour has “coincided with a flurry of hate crimes around the country.” The recent cancellation of his Berkeley speech was not the first of his appearances on college campuses to be shut down by massive protests.
Nonetheless, his anti-political-correctness stance and his trollish, outspoken approach to political dialogue has won him fame and considerable support in far-right circles. As Publishers Weekly’s Jim Milliott told The Los Angeles Times last month, “Conservative books sell at least as well as quote unquote liberal books.” Novels and nonfiction works by right-wing figureheads such as Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity have routinely lingered at the top of best-seller lists.
As President Donald Trump’s agenda has elevated those right-wing policies from fringe to mainstream, from opposition to party in power, previously complacent liberals have seemingly turned for insight to Hannah Arendt and Orwell ― but the buying power of conservative readers is holding strong.
The country, it’s been said, is more divided than ever. For anyone in doubt, the sight of Yiannopoulos’ right-wing screed battling for the top spot on Amazon with the anti-totalitarian dystopia 1984 is just one more piece of evidence.