Let me preface this by saying that I believe Milo Yiannopoulos is a disgusting human being, whose stated “positions” and “political stance” only exist to bring him notoriety. I also think he’s one of the worst cases of internalized homophobia we’ve ever seen. He’s the Kardashian of the right, with a bigger vocabulary.
His college “tour” title is “Dangerous Faggots.” That in itself tells you everything. Under the guise of defending “free speech,” he incites hatred and division. He defiles the very concept of free speech. But. That does not excuse what happened at U. Berkeley this week.
Was the violence engineered? Undoubtedly. “By whom?” is the question.
Was it relished by Yiannopoulos and his followers? Absolutely. They thrive on chaos.
That this boy enjoys generating situations where violence could occur, and loves the attention it brings him, is indisputable. He’s a race-baiter who’s ignorant and foolish enough to confuse notoriety with fame. His machinations are such that it would not surprise me at all if some of the most violent protesters were his own followers, trying to make sure this became an “event.”
Still. Saying “You reap what you sow” doesn’t excuse it. Not for an instant.
IF the college had invited him (which they did not), and IF his fee and expenses were being paid out of student funds (which they were not), it would be one thing. Legitimate university students certainly deserve a say in how their student money is being spent, and what they want their school to represent.
But it is inexcusable to shut down an event ― again, an event that was not paid for with student/university funds ― because you disagree with the speaker’s agenda. Unless the speaker is calling for outright violence, is creating an absolute and immediate danger to the community (such as falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, the most-often-used example), it is not all right. Period.
I speak from personal experience. Thousands of people in this country tried to block my song “Society’s Child” from the airwaves, and block me from performing it in public. It didn’t work, but if they’d been better organized, and Leonard Bernstein hadn’t come to my defense on popular television, it might have.
I’ve heard varying accounts of who the “rioters” were. I’ve heard they were hired, by Trump, by Milo, by the alt-right. Frankly, I doubt that. The most credible rumor I’ve heard is that the violent, masked protesters who showed up are not Berkeley students, but a chapter of Antifa (Look it up. I had to.) In fact, a friend on the scene just sent me this (name of other city removed to protect my friend):
Antifa folks were present at the Sunday protest in [another city]... They were actively attempting to subvert the message of the protest with their own agenda. They wore masks and tried to shame everyone into joining their agenda. They use protest as a cover for their own actions. They do it as close to non-violent protesters as they can, trying to involve as many people as possible. If you criticize them, they lash out strongly, sometimes with violent threats. This will continue.
I ultimately don’t think they are paid for by the right. I think the right is very aware of them and are using them by letting them do what they do. They are self-proclaimed violent anarchists. They way they dress, their tattoos, attitude, etc. is not indicative of hired hands. They are for real. It’s going to help Trump a lot.
When I was a teenager, we used to joke that if we removed all the undercover government agents posing as members of civil rights groups, the movement’s numbers would be halved. Programs like the FBI’s COINTELPRO added violence to peaceful demonstrations everywhere, even as the instigators were busy informing on us.
I really hope legitimate protesters in all areas learn the harsh lessons we learned in the ‘60s ― whether the infiltrators are coming from the right or the left is immaterial. What matters is that they infiltrate in order to disrupt and de-legitimize the protest. If you are serious about your demonstration and your beliefs, you should refute them, because their only allegiance is to their own agenda.
Not yours. Not your organization’s. Theirs.
It’s bad enough that this boy is able to make a living by bragging about being paid to have sex with strangers. Bad enough that his worshipful fans think he actually believes what he posts, and regard him as a “journalist.” Bad enough that he says he can’t be a racist because he has an “anti-white bedroom policy” and prefers to have sex with black men.
All that is bad enough. We don’t have to add to it by giving him headlines.
If you are a demonstrator and masked strangers show up promoting violence, walk away. Disavow. Point them out and warn your colleagues and friends.
Don’t be someone else’s tool, whatever “side” you may be on.