Milo Goes to College

Andreas Loretan, Staff Writer

The mouthpiece of the “alt-right,” Milo Yiannopolous, met a fierce backlash just before his scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley, something he is quite upset about. A man who has made his name in political punditry by criticizing his strawman version of “the Left” by mocking their need for “safe spaces” and making a mission out of provoking people into accepting the outer limits of free speech, is now angered by the reaction he faced.

Yiannopolous’ appearance, scheduled for February 1, was met with various demonstrations at the UC campus. Among the protesters was a group of agitators wearing masks. UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett, told the Associated Press that “This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,”

Protesters shattered windows, started fires, and in some cases assaulted Yiannopolous supporters. Whether that’s acceptable or not is up to you, but is the sentiment really all that misguided? The First Amendment protects the government from infringing on a person’s right to free speech, we should all know that by now, but people can tell you all they want to shut up and go away— as they should have with Yiannopolous. Aside from being annoying, his rhetoric inspires sexist attitudes and even racist harassment. Look no further than the reason he is banned from Twitter, the racist abuse actress Leslie Jones received on behalf of Yiannopolous by his followers.

His plan for the canceled meeting was to enter the stage in American Indian garb, a move so obviously meant to offend that it’s bordering cringe-inducing. “Well, that’s his right to do that, no matter who gets offended,” you might be saying to yourself. You would be correct, too. That totally is his right to do that. He should just definitely not do that anywhere remotely close to an institution where people are spending thousands of dollars to advance their knowledge of the world.

He’s banned from Twitter, a cesspool of abusive egg and Pepe the frog avatars, for good reason, so why not from universities? Whether it’s UC Berkeley or Mesa College, higher education is meant to inform, not attack. Students across the country know this, and that’s why they step up in letting their voices be heard. If the students are speaking up, it’s the university’s job to listen.

The unfortunate flipside to his barring is that it plays into his narrative. That colleges are these leftist safe spaces for wimps who can’t handle the real world. That he tells it like it is and these “special snowflakes” refuse to listen to the truth. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that just because you tell it however you think “it” is doesn’t make you right, it just makes you seem confident in your ignorance.

Allowing Yiannopolous to spread his fragile dogma of “feminism is cancer, Islam is cancer” isn’t giving the “other side” a chance, it’s just giving a hyperbolic, attention-thirsty demagogue a chance to incite anyone with a sense of tolerance into spitting up whatever they ate for lunch that day.

Universities booking Milo Yiannopolous, or anyone associated with the “alt-right” for that matter, are not enhancing education or facilitating meaningful discussion. What it does is give white nationalism fuel, it promotes students feeling comfortable in abusive behavior, and it tarnishes the name of higher education in favor of cashing in on a growing trend of young white men who are hell-bent on asserting male dominance and Western (re:white) chauvinism. Universities ignoring his request for a platform isn’t denying someone’s right to free speech, these people can speak anywhere, it’s protecting students from intellectual depravity.