Milo is a troll. This is not just my interpretation of him, he calls himself a troll. And, like all trolls, his goal is to make others angry with his words. Like all trolls, he “feeds” off of negative energy. Every time the left reacts to him negatively (or becomes triggered as Milo would say) he wins. The left is feeding the troll, and you should never feed the trolls.
He wins especially when “the left” (speaking generally here) reacts with violence like it did during his scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley. Milo likes to paint liberals, specifically college students and professors, as being “intolerant” and even “fascistic” towards free speech. He likes to claim that the left is so easily “triggered” and politically correct that it has lost its ability to reason. He argues, that instead of trying to defeat his speech with speech, the left likes to respond with trying to shut down his speech.
This is a “win-win” situation Milo is setting up for himself. If we, on the left, attempt to shut down his speech, he gets to continue making his point that the left is “intolerant” of free speech. If we allow him to give his speech, unchallenged, he gets to go on spreading his moronic ideas. But, if we respond violently, he wins big time. Just look at how much attention he’s gained because of the recent violent protests at UC Berkeley.
Above is a chart showing how many times Milo’s name has been Googled. As you can see, there was a huge spike in queries that occurred on the day of the protests in Berkeley.
Above is a list of trending twitter hashtags. As you can see, Berkeley, and #UCBerkeleyRiot was consistently trending.
Milo was also trending on Facebook, the world’s largest and most used social media site. Milo Yiannopoulos had 130k people talking about him at the time I took this screenshot. More than Sarah Silverman, Winona Ryder, Amanda Nunes and Dwayne Wade.
Not all of this attention will be positive attention. Many people will discover who he is and simply be repulsed by him. But, a lot of people who’ve never heard of Milo are now becoming aware of him simply because of this protest. Many of the “top comments” on social media are highly critical of the protest and the violence that erupted. Below are screenshots of comments made on CNN sharing the news, a news source often criticized for being to far left, and whose readers are often also on the left.
The fact that these type of comments are often “top comments” in many discussion threads is a bad sign for the left. The left seems to be losing on the public relations front.
His book sales are further proof that the attention Milo is getting is favorable to him. In fact, his book sales are up 12,740% overnight. Milo now gets to share his message to an even wider audience. A message which depicts the left as intolerant, violent and incapable of reasonable thought. Unfortunately, this message, although clearly flawed in many ways, will be accepted by many.
Many, like UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, are putting forward evidence based conspiracy theories about the situation. They say that it’s possible the violence was started by right wing “plants.” This a very real possibility, but one for which we have no conclusive evidence for. What is evident is that these people weren’t your typical protestors. They were armed and organized, and covered their faces. Meanwhile, a majority of the protesters were peaceful, and some even stayed behind to clean up. Whoever these people dressed in black were, their actions were counterproductive.
Milo’s core criticism of “the left” is that it prohibits certain types of dialogue by deeming it profane and politically incorrect. He essentially believes in “the free marketplace” of ideas. The assumption being that the best ideas will naturally beat out the inferior ones. According to Milo and his followers, by restricting the spread of ideas (no matter how ugly they are) we’re restricting the progress of human knowledge. That is, the best ideas will not be allowed to beat out the inferior ones because of coercive and “artificial” constraints.
Milo’s goal is to prove his core criticism of the left to be true. His says ridiculous and offensive things in order to rile people up, then step onto his platform and yell about the “hypocrisy of the left.” The hypocrisy being: the left says it values diversity, yet at the same time it wants to eliminate diversity of opinion. The left says it values education and individual rights, and yet it wants to restrict ideas and freedom. Every time his speeches are shut down, he uses it as ammunition.
Milo’s strategy is essentially: ridicule, provoke, confirm then spread. As his audience grows, he emboldens and unites the far right. A far right which is being bombarded with propaganda about the growing intolerance of a “hateful” left, and which sees itself as under siege by academic elites, the media, and even science. This battle is not just about “left” vs “right,” it’s about much more. We can’t just keep pandering to the base, because it’s not working.
The solution is to beat Milo at his own game. He claims to be interested in free speech. Why not debate an actual expert in feminism, gender studies, or sociology (those which Milo constantly mocks) instead of just mocking them from a distance? If Milo truly believes in the free market of ideas, why not put his ideas to the test against the very best the left has to offer? And if he refuses, it’ll just prove him to be a coward with no real interest in the spread of ideas, but just another troll which should not be fed.