Milo Yiannopoulos is a beast.
The 31-year-old, boastfully gay Breitbart writer—or “dangerous faggot”—has quickly become a hero to young conservatives and libertarians for smacking down the ridiculous out-of-control “social justice warriors” who troll college campuses.
If Donald Trump defies political correctness, Yiannopoulos—an avid Trump supporter prone to calling The Donald “daddy”—obliterates it.
A woman confronted Yiannopoulos during his speech in a packed American University auditorium last month, asking if his controversial rhetoric “invalidated” minority views.
“Fuck your feelings,” he told her.
The kids loved it. Me too.
How could you not? As the student left becomes insufferably extreme, Milo’s become the perfect counterpunch.
He’s irreverent. He’s exciting.
To an old guy like me—a whole decade Milo’s senior!—he’s punk rock.
“At 6’2, punctuated by a tall poof of bleached hair… his friends will tell you, he is always ‘on,’ whether he’s railing against the matriarchy, bragging about his own fabulousness or discussing his love of ‘black dick,” wrote Fusion last year.
He’s a middle finger to the establishment, left and right.
Slamming #NeverTrump Republicans last week, Yiannopoulos scolded the GOP for offending young Trump supporters like himself, “Unlike most right-wing writers, my biggest demographic is 18-34 year olds.”
“Those weren’t just any old voters you were alienating,” Milo said to anti-Trump Republicans. “They include the next generation of conservative firebrands, who are currently gravitating to Trump, the alt-right, and me.”
There are worse things than political correctness.
In March, Yiannopoulos coauthored a 3,500-word piece for Breitbart called “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right.”
“Although initially small in number,” Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari explained, “the alt-right has a youthful energy and jarring, taboo-defying rhetoric that have boosted its membership and made it impossible to ignore.”
This movement is young, they do defy taboos and unfortunately, the alt-right has become impossible to ignore.
Because it’s racist.
I don’t mean “racist” like the left does, where merely being white and male is a sin.
I mean rationalizing that you’re intellectually or culturally superior because you’re white. I mean believing that black and brown people are less valuable to society and should be viewed with contempt.
I’ve never met Milo Yiannopoulos and am not really that concerned with whether he’s a racist or not. Such accusations are what the left does ad nauseam and part of what Yiannopoulos rightly fights against.
But I do think he flirts with racism: “The alt-right openly crack jokes about the Holocaust, loudly—albeit almost entirely satirical—expresses its horror at ‘race-mixing… They have no real problem with race-mixing…” writes Yiannopoulos.
I do think he opens windows that concern me: “Anything associated as closely with racism and bigotry as the alternative right will inevitably attract real racists and bigots,” admits Yiannopoulos. “The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race,” he writes.
I’ve spent the last eight years as part of the Ron and Rand Paul-inspired liberty movement, speaking to groups like Young Americans for Liberty (a few YAL local chapters have sponsored some Milo Yiannopoulos events). Today, YAL is the largest center-right youth group in America.
As an organization dedicated to individual liberty.
The alt-right is the polar opposite of libertarianism.
Analyzing a subset of the alt-right who call themselves “neoreactionaries,” Vox’s Dylan Matthews explains this important distinction, “Most modern libertarians are individualists, motivated by a desire to prevent the masses from oppressing the individual…
“Neoreactionaries are not individualists… neoreaction places huge value on group membership and group loyalty,” Matthews says.
“They are tribalists, and for the most part—let’s not mince words—they are racists.”
Much of Yiannopoulos’s Breitbart essay defends the alt-right from charges of racism (“Are they actually bigots? No more than death metal devotees in the ’80s were actually Satanists,” says Yiannopoulos), while virtually every critique (“The Racist Moral Rot At The Heart Of The Alt-Right,” says National Review’s Ian Tuttle) you will find (“Responding To The Alt-Right: Are They Bigots, Or Just Stupid Children?” asks The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro) of the movement (“Yes, The Alt-Right Are Just A Bunch Of Racists,” says The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski) focuses first and foremost (“You Can’t Whitewash The Alt-Right’s Bigotry,” says libertarian Cathy Young) on the obvious racism (“there are elements within Hitlerism and Nazism that I admire,” says Alternative Right’s Alex Fontana) alt-righters don’t even try to hide (“I don’t think we can pray away the gay, but maybe we can pray the blacks back to Africa?” says tweeter @_AltRight_).
Then again, sometimes Milo just seems to be having a bit of anti-PC fun—like his “antiwhite bedroom policy” which Yiannopoulos says he would gladly break for Daddy Trump.
Either way, race or racism is always at the center of the alt-right debate.
There’s a reason for this.
Despite Yiannopoulos’s promotion of cultural libertarianism—a much-needed call for freer speech, which I agree with—the heart of alt-right tribalism leads to something that is definitively anti-libertarian and functionally authoritarian. The alt-right is characterized by an extreme collectivism that is unavoidably racist.
Libertarians can also be extreme in their obsession with individualism. There is such a thing as a common good and a minimal government is necessary for some basic societal functions.
There have always been libertarians who argue against any possible form of collectivism and such debates are not new. Arguments in the 1950s and ’60s between traditionalists like Russell Kirk and libertarians such as Frank Meyer explored whether emphasis should be placed more on the collective—family, community, country—or individual human beings with inalienable “natural rights.”
This tension between traditionalists and libertarians is what has been considered the American conservative tradition for most of its existence. The alt-right mostly rejects traditional American conservatism—that of classical liberalism and the individualism that has always been a central focus.
The alt-right takes the traditionalist aspect of that older right ideological coalition, the collective concerns of family, community, country, to the extreme end of race.
Individuals become subservient to the collective, and the new line between friend and foe becomes who is within or without a particular group.
For the alt-right, that group is white people.
It’s no coincidence that alt-righters who don’t like libertarians or more traditional conservatives often refer to them as “cuckservatives.” The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis explains the term, “A cuckold, of course, is a legitimate word for the husband of an adulterous wife… (but) the people who throw this term around are most likely referencing a type of pornography whereby a (usually, white) man is ‘humiliated’ (or ironically thrilled) by being forced to watch his wife having sex with another (usually, black) man…
“So what does this have to do with conservatism or politics?” asks Lewis. “By supporting immigration reform, criminal justice reform, etc., a white conservative is therefore surrendering his honor and masculinity…
“A cuckservative is, therefore, a race traitor,” Lewis notes.
The Daily Caller reported of Yiannopoulos’s recent event at American University, “One angry audience member took his time at the mic to just call Yiannopoulos a ‘fucking prick’ for expressing his opinions. The writer shot back that his adversary was a ‘cuck,’ short for cuckold, which has become a popular slur among Milo’s fanbase to sling at opponents.
“The audience roared in its approval and chanted ‘cuck’ as well.”
Did this young audience even know what they were chanting? Does Yiannopoulos? Or is it just for kicks?
And if so, is it even funny?
What’s going on here?
Who’s a major “cuckservative?” according to the alt-right? Rand Paul. Why? For pursuing criminal justice reform, engaging in minority outreach, not demonizing Hispanics in the immigration debate and daring to criticize Donald Trump.
Yes, this racist tripe is what some are seriously discussing in 2016.
It’s also the inevitable end result of collectivist-racialist thinking.
Criticizing extreme Black Lives Matter protesters, for example, something many conservatives do and often with good cause, can quickly become an indictment, and perhaps even hatred, of African Americans—as if the average black American isn’t just trying to get by day-to-day like the rest of us.
But if you go down this collectivist path, you end up forgetting about that. Individuals’ humanity is diminished. Everything and everyone becomes political.
It becomes as if black lives don’t actually matter, and police brutality isn’t even a real thing.
For the alt-right, who cares? They’re black.
You begin to see people of a different color, people who’ve done essentially nothing bad or to you, as enemies.
It’s a horrible and unhealthy way to go through life and view your fellow man.
Discussing immigration can become a loathing of all Hispanics. Perhaps you might even cheer a candidate who calls Mexicans “rapists.” Being politically incorrect when discussing the relationship between Islam and jihad-based terrorism—a discussion that should happen—can quickly devolve into condemnation of all Muslims and Arabs. Perhaps you might even like politicians who want to ban them from entering the U.S.
The mainstream right does this too—for every racist or xenophobic thing that Trump says, and the alt-right cheers—there are mainstream conservative outlets that indulge the same prejudices. The potential to replace the identity politics of the left with that of the right—as the alt-right hopes—has conservative radio, television, and websites that would probably not hesitate to facilitate such a trend if they were ratings and traffic getters.
It’s scary. It’s an unnerving time for those who value individual freedom and human dignity. The trend on the youth right for a number of years now has been toward libertarianism. This “new” alt-right is basically the same old racism being passed off as something high-minded or even hip.
So, yes, I’m disturbed by an auditorium full of young people chanting “cuck!” or that the speaker they’re listening to also leads an alt-right chorus. It’s not a defense of the left, who deserve every bit of scorn they receive and more—it’s concern for the right.
Particularly the young right.
My worry is that passionate, well-meaning, but still intellectually curious young libertarians and conservatives might wander too far into what the alt-right is peddling. Particularly in an election year when Ron Paul isn’t running for president, Rand Paul’s campaign did not live up to expectations and the alt-right’s favorite candidate, Donald Trump, is the likeliest Republican nominee.
Even the most non-racist, liberty-minded person accustomed to intellectual pursuits could be attracted to shiny and popular new objects. Sometimes out of boredom.
Milo Yiannopoulos is cool. Even I think so.
But the alt-right is not, and no one should think so. It’s not edgy, it’s not new and it’s not good. It’s surrendering to the worst parts of our nature.
It’s darkness. It’s fatalism.
Just like how the crazy left condemns all whites, or males, or heterosexuals—young rightists attracted to this movement will inevitably start judging their fellow man primarily by the color of their skin.
No matter how they spin it, that’s exactly what the alt-right wants you to do.