Defining Milo Yiannopoulos: a useful idiot
It has been said, in different ways by different people, that reputations take a lifetime to build and moments to destroy. The latest person to prove that true is Milo Yiannopoulos. What is truly remarkable is how many times, before now, that moment should have come. Now, at last, all right-thinking people are celebrating his humiliating downfall. This is the perfect time to look back and consider what made him justifiably hated by so many people. There will be those who would say this article is a hit-piece, and they would be quite right. Milo was a scumbag and, consequently, it is not my intention to waste any time trying to find good things to say about him.
One of the worst thing we teach children is that they should end an argument by agreeing to disagree. Milo took advantage of the misguided notion this implies; that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sorry, but if you are wrong then you are wrong. Milo’s views, which need not be repeated here, were always utterly baseless. Never once did he offer a valid argument or substantial evidence. Instead, he would invite his victims to debate with him, like a spider inviting a fly into its parlour. The most disappoint aspect of all this is that, as a gay conservative, Milo had an interesting position from which to speak. Instead, he was content to offend merely for the sake of causing offence.
At his worst, Milo was a millennial Uncle Tom. Call one of his right-wing fans homophobic, xenophobic or racist and they would point out, respectively, that Milo is gay, half Greek or has a black boyfriend. Of course, they would typically do so through gritted teeth. The truly pathetic thing is that Milo seemingly thought these people had accepted him as one of their own. He was actually, to borrow a phrase, a “useful idiot.” When he inevitably went too far and, in doing so ceased to be of value to them, they turned their backs on him. It is quite something when the staff of Breitbart take a justifiable moral stance against someone.
A few alt-right trolls are still to be found defending Milo, but mainstream conservatism has wasted no time in casting him out. In a short space of time he went from an asset to a liability. He has lost his book deal, not because the publishers finally saw the light but because he no longer has enough of a fan base to make it profitable. Likewise, his invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference has been withdrawn. Under different circumstance that crowd would have hailed him as a conquering hero. Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks minorities who want to gain acceptance should work with bigots rather than against them.
How, then, to sum up the story of Milo Yiannopoulos? Since this article has at no point pretended to be balanced, that answer can be bluntly answered. Milo is pathetic and worthy of our contempt. That he saw himself as a freethinker, in the style of Voltaire and Orwell, shows just how delusional he was. In many ways, his attempts at social commentary were like a child pretending to be an adult. It has long been my view, defended in previous articles for this publication, that free speech should be regarded as a privilege. If anyone insists on spouting vile bigotry, making no effort to back up their opinions with reason or evidence, it is right that we should do what we can to silence them. Milo is what happens when we fail to do so.
(Image courtesy of Vanity Fair)