RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Taibbi writes: "Milo Yiannopoulos, the revolting bete noire of the Alt-Right, a person who is such a reactionary American that he's British, seems to have made a critical mistake. Surely, conventional wisdom holds, even Republicans will balk at being asked to equate liberty with child molestation?"

Milo Yiannopoulos. (photo: David Middlecamp/AP)
Milo Yiannopoulos. (photo: David Middlecamp/AP)

Milo Yiannopoulos Isn't Going Away

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

21 February 17


Alt-Right troll's latest scandal looks like a career-ending gaffe – but don't be so sure

ilo Yiannopoulos, the revolting bête noire of the Alt-Right, a person who is such a reactionary American that he's British, seems to have made a critical mistake. Surely, conventional wisdom holds, even Republicans will balk at being asked to equate liberty with child molestation?

As onetime conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes put it, "Anti-Semitism, ok. Racism, ok. Alt-right, ok. Advocacy of pedophilia? Is THAT the bridge too far?"

Along with longtime Breitbart cohort Steve Bannon, the foppish Yiannopoulos – the co-author of the Alt-Right's unofficial manifesto – has until now been extremely successful in selling the various intellectual justifications for Trumpism.

In particular, he's been one of the main voices pushing the idea that Donald Trump's most lurid and offensive behaviors are "conservative," because they represent a front in the war against speech limits and political correctness.

"He'd rather grab a pussy than be one," was Milo's pithy take on then candidate Trump's Access Hollywood scandal.

Not all traditional conservatives bought these clunky rhetorical gymnastics, which were designed to give Fox viewers permission to vote a Bible-averse, model-humping New Yorker into the White House. But enough did to win Trump the presidency.

Still, there has been a lingering unwillingness among the National Review/Weekly Standard crew of Reagan Republicans to embrace Yiannopoulos and all he represents. That unwillingness spilled into open conflict when the loathsome campus agitator was named a keynote speaker at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference.

A blog called the Reagan Battalion re-circulated excerpts of a year-old interview of Milo by the Drunken Peasants podcast, in which he clearly endorses sex between men and underage boys.

Yiannopoulos talked about how "we get hung up on this kind of child abuse stuff," dismissing what he calls the "oppressive idea of consent."

"In the homosexual world particularly," said Yiannopoulos, who is gay, "some of those relationships between younger boys and older men [are] sort of coming-of-age relationships ... in which those older men have helped those young boys to discover who they are."

When one of the podcast co-hosts suggested that it sounded like he was talking about Catholic priest molestation, Yiannopoulous quickly co-signed, claiming personal experience in that area.

"You know what?" he shouted. "I'm grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn't give nearly such good head if it wasn't for him."

When challenged that he seemed to be endorsing pedophilia, Yiannopoulos then retreated to a semantic argument.

"You're misunderstanding what pedophilia means," he said. "Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty."

After a scandal blew up over these words, Yiannopoulos used a technique that Donald Trump has used often in the past two years: He simply claimed he didn't say what he said.

Blaming "sloppy editing" for the controversy, Yiannopoulos insisted on his Facebook page, "I was talking about my own relationship when I was 17 with a man who was 29." He added, "The age of consent in the UK is 16. That was a mistake."

This was despite the fact that Yiannopoulos explicitly talked about "sexually mature" 13-year-olds in the context of who can and cannot be a consenting adult. He has made similar remarks before – he revels in them, in fact. When he appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast last summer, for instance, he couldn't help himself when Rogan brought up the "semen warrior" culture in Papua New Guinea.

"These men who take these young boys, " said Rogan, "and inseminate them, and put cum in their mouths and their asses to make them grow..."

"Sounds like homosexuality," Yiannoploulos quipped. "Sounds great."

The furor currently raging over Yiannopoulos's comments is exactly the sort of thing this professional button-pusher relishes. Like Trump, his shtick is to say crazy things to get attention, and then manipulate ears and eyeballs to his advantage mid-furor.

A favored tactic is to direct his audiences toward some overemotional sap who has made the mistake of calling for him to be banned, at which point he triumphantly declares himself a champion of liberty, and his enemies censors and authoritarians.

In his Alt-Right manifesto, Milo self-consciously celebrates the trolling phenomenon as something inspired, meaningful and "undeniably hysterical." And like all trolls, Yiannopoulos thinks his provocations are brilliant, when actually he's just a goof with an accent and a C-minus mind who says witlessly obnoxious things and through sheer accident of historical circumstance gets rewarded for it.

He seems genuinely to believe that he's one of the first people ever to notice that you can make a good living through lying and the unscrupulous use of hate speech. With the confidence of a person who hasn't yet discovered the depth of his own unoriginality, he leans into controversies instead of recoiling from them, sure he can always spin things in a pinch.

One of his main affectations is a flaunting of duplicity as a revolutionary virtue. For instance, it was predictable that this longtime critic of "victimhood culture" would cling to his own victimhood in a crisis.

"I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim," he wrote, cloaking himself in multiple layers of the very identity politics he claims to despise. He even used AIDS patients as a human shield, which was a bit excessive even for him, but not out of character:

"If I choose to deal in an edgy way on an Internet livestream with a crime I was the victim of that's my prerogative. It's no different to gallows humor from Aids [sic] sufferers."

The "oppressive idea of consent" rant seems to have created problems for Yiannopoulos. Staffers at Breitbart, where he is a senior editor, are threatening to walk out unless he's fired. Moreover, he's been disinvited from CPAC, a development he will no doubt portray as an overreaction by a defeated and humorless Republican establishment.

Milo's obvious play will be to use all of this coverage as free PR, seeking to come out the other side with his rebel credentials burnished. He'll recreate himself as a Republican martyr, unfairly maligned by a corrupt priesthood that fears the true movement.

On the outside, this looks like a mistake. The Bannonite Alt-Right crew Milo represents imagines itself a brilliant group of intellectual danger-seekers, but trying to sell boy-buggering to the American Conservative Union sure seems more stupid than daring (and it's plenty daring).

After all, the success of the Trump movement depends upon a nervous coalition of aging religious conservatives and young, race-baiting, Internet-addicted morons – the people GOP consultant Rick Wilson once called "childless single men who masturbate to anime."

The link between these two groups has always been tenuous at best. Really, it's an absurd semantic misunderstanding, a classic Americanism, confusing the words "liberty" and "libertine."

There's a big difference between believing in limited government, and completely rejecting all behavioral and sexual morality. But people like Yiannopoulos and Trump have been successful at blurring these lines, because we're not a very bright people. Also, we're inexperienced when it comes to this kind of high-level political con artistry.

A dynamic that all good swindlers understand is that once you've gotten a person to make one embarrassing decision, it's easier to get him to make the next one. A person who loses 10 grand trying to buy the Brooklyn Bridge is a good bet to spend 20 more chasing the loss. Con artists call this "reloading."

The Trump phenomenon has been like this. Megachurch moms and dads across the country grit their teeth when the "grab them by the pussy" tape came out, quietly convincing themselves that "locker-room talk" was less horrifying than a Hillary Clinton presidency.

When they cast their votes weeks later, it was like a secret transgression that bound them to the new leader. This counter-intuitive brand of politics is very effective. It's why no one should be too quick to put this week's seeming fiasco with CPAC in the Republicans' loss column.

One would think the last thing you'd want to do if your intent was to hold a fragile Republican coalition together is pitch Milo Yiannopoulos as a defender of family values. Why would the Mike Pence crowd ever rally behind a Brit with frosted hair who brags about getting blowjobs from priests? It seems preposterous.

But watch it work. A week from now, the same conservatives who are beating their breasts about Yiannopoulos now will go crawling back into the Trump camp to fight the hated liberals on a dozen other issues. They will look weak and indecisive, and privately will be demoralized, while the Trump/Bannon/Milo crew will look like poker players who won a bluff. It's always about the next news cycle with these people.

Trolling doesn't take brains. But it works, and it will keep working, until we learn to see through the provocations in real time. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+57 # Navrongo80 2017-02-21 14:44
I have seen Yiannopoulos a couple of times. I thought him so over the top and cartoonish that he must have assumed a character. I even thought the guy was faking being gay to add more color to the character; assuming that someone in the Bannon crew would try to pray the gay out of him.

You simply can't drain that swamp.
+3 # ericlipps 2017-02-22 06:09
So don't. Bury it. Dump enough soil into it to make it fertile ground.

Oh, I forgot. There's already enough organic fertilizer floating in it. Well, bury it anyway.
+6 # HowardMH 2017-02-21 15:31
To drain this swamp, we going to have to get in the faces of at least 50 Republican Senators, a few Democrats, and a half bazillion Republicans in the House, and stress to them "THIS IS YOUR LAST TERM".

"In there faces", doesn't mean standing in the parking lot and stomping your feet and screaming, it means "In there faces - just one foot away from there face".
+6 # Robbee 2017-02-21 16:20
rump fearlessly broke every taboo he came across - Surely, conventional wisdom holds, even Republicans will balk at being asked to equate liberty with child molestation?

yes! unless crazy runs for office in murika!
+8 # Michaeljohn 2017-02-21 16:39
It ain't a swamp; it's a stinking cesspool that drags in anyone without the moral fortitude to call it out.
+2 # Citizen Mike 2017-02-21 18:17
If racism and anti-Semitism are now out of the political closet why not a libertarian attack on the age-of-consent concept next? We live in surprising times with every day the unexpected. .
+2 # boredlion 2017-02-21 19:00
Just exactly how has it happened that this slimy Limey has enjoyed such a prominent and over-bearing megaphone to spew his vile hate speech, and gotten rich off it? Look no further than his fans and fellow trolls Steve Bannon and Trump.

I suppose this is what America deserves for its sins : a so-called government by and for ignominious, power- and money-mad, racist trolls.
+9 # jwb110 2017-02-21 20:40
He is sort of the Borat of the GOP except he is entirely serious plus you can't parody a parody. At this point there is no more moral high road for the GOP. They can not claim any primacy in that particular dog fight. They have lain down with dogs and got up with fleas. The old adage stands true. They want to impeach a Dem president for a blow job and then defend the "grabber" like he was the Christ come again. I listened to that interview and what I came away with is that the Brits have an underlying buggery in their back round. This guy has it in spades because he is a Brit AND a Greek. He is a certifiable as the guy he defends. Maybe the White House is in such turmoil because there is no enough Milo grabbing? His particular brand of "reasoning" justifies all sorts of things unseemly. Just like Donnie.
+1 # kyzipster 2017-02-23 11:07
Glad to see this guy crash and burn, I don't think he'll recover, he was destined to be the Ann Coulter of the millennial generation.

Had Trump said basically the same thing from a hetero perspective, his apologists would bend over backwards insisting it was a joke, 'locker room talk', and still elect him POTUS.

I came out as gay in 1980, I've yet to come across a teenage/older man mentor relationship of a sexual nature. If the Brits have 'buggery' in their background, every culture dominated by Abrahamic religions has closeted, oppressed homosexuals in their background. I'd recommend watching 'The Imitation Game' about Alan Turing to understand British 'buggery.'

This belief about ancient Greek culture has been projected onto modern day gay identity, used to label us pedophiles, suggesting it's in our nature. A belief that plenty of homophobic Christians hold tight to. Milo is parroting this BS for shock effect.

For some perspective, it was common for girls as young as 14 to be married to middle aged men in the Puritan colonies of America. 2500 years ago, there was a very different concept of age of consent. It's believed that Greek culture allowed the youth to choose their mentors. The older men had to make a very attractive offer of mentorship, largely financial. Not unlike billionaires today and their trophy wives. Puritan Christian culture of the 17th century was probably more abusive to teenage girls, while executing homosexuals.
0 # MsAnnaNOLA 2017-02-23 15:46
According to Wikipedia the age of consent in Mexico is 12 years old in some places. I was shocked to read about this in context of sex trafficing to Mexicans in Houston. They are used to very young people. These are our very close neighbors.
+4 # JayaVII 2017-02-23 22:13
These fascist types are not capable of erotic love, or any other kind. They get off on power and wealth. They do not understand relationship and empathy and compassion for them is simpering sentimentality. They are monsters, and now they rise to the very top, revealing the monstrousness of the system. Germany was like this in the 1930s, generating men with no souls and eyes like the pits of hell.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.