An Account of Milo’s Visit

He’s been called the Internet’s most fabulous supervillain, the Loki from London, and the right’s Kanye West. And this week on a chilly, cloudy Tuesday evening, Milo Yiannopoulos brought his provocative brand of political discourse to Dartmouth College.

At first glance, the 32-year old, boastfully gay British journalist seems to be a walking contradiction. He is a journalist who hates the mainstream media, a two-time university dropout who has drawn national attention with his college tour, and an openly gay man who is highly critical of the LGBTQ+ establishment. But over the past year, he has quickly become a hero to young conservatives and libertarians for attacking social justice warriors and political correctness on college campuses. If Donald Trump defies political correctness, Mr. Yiannopoulos–an avid Trump supporter-obliterates it.

For the last few months, Mr. Yiannopoulos has been on the road for a four-month, 26-stop American college campus tour. It should come as no surprise that his tour has attracted national attention. Mr. Yiannopoulos often puts on a whole show to provoke student protesters, claiming that he does so to oppose the cultural tyranny of the Left. At his past speaking appearances, protesters have stormed the stage, smeared red paint on themselves, and sounded air horns to block out his voice. Many schools, including Villanova University, the University of Miami, the University of Maryland, and Florida Atlantic University, have all canceled scheduled appearances due to concerns about large-scale student protests.

Yet Mr. Yiannopoulos’s controversial remarks on feminism, social justice, and political correctness have attracted hundreds of spectators at each of his tour stops. Cheering on the likes of Mr. Yiannopoulos is a way for many of his supporters to cope with the stifling reality of political correctness on campus and wreak some small measure of vengeance on those who herald it as a virtue. The enthusiasm for the cultural libertarianism that Mr. Yiannopoulos claims to represent was evident on Tuesday. A diverse mix of people hailing from different regions and backgrounds travelled to Dartmouth to attend Mr. Yiannopoulos’s lecture, which was titled “In Defense of Hazing.” Most had discovered Milo on YouTube or through social media in one of his many infamous videos.

Before the event, The Dartmouth Review had an opportunity to speak with several of the event’s attendees. One of the audience members identified himself as Julio. He had arrived as a refugee from Cuba when he was six years old and  remembered the tyranny of the Castro regime. His mother raised him with stories that reminded Julio every day of a world without free speech and free markets. He had come hundreds of miles to see Milo after the event in his hometown was canceled. He had known authoritarianism in Cuba and did not want to know it again. Julio feared the politically correct culture and language policing on college campuses that Mr. Yiannopoulos attacks.

“My mom was alive during the revolution and she saw the change from a capitalist country to a socialist country.  It was a very frightening time for her, but also a time of great hope where they offered her socialism as being a solution for all the problems of the country, and it turned into a hell-hole.” Julio’s voice conveyed the sense of betrayal he clearly felt. He continued, “People are arrested just for speaking their mind.  There is no such thing as a First Amendment or a Second Amendment.  The government took complete control.  And that is why we came here.”

Autumn, a seventeen-year old attendee from the New England region, came from an entirely different culture and had been born in the United States. She had introduced the rest of her family to Milo’s videos and social media presence and had been following the cultural libertarian movement for months.

“We’re here for Milo. He’s really funny. Despite that we don’t agree with everything he says, he’s very charismatic and very witty,” Autumn said.

Her family nodded in agreement. As a prospective college student, Autumn was most interested in free speech on campuses across the United States, an issue Mr. Yiannopoulos has focused on bringing to the forefront.

There were no protesters at the event on Tuesday, but there was one free speech activist from New Hampshire who came to see Mr. Yiannopoulos. The man, who identified himself as George Stanley Berlin, was wearing a large brown paper bag on his head and was carrying a sign referencing court cases he had filed against New Hampshire colleges.

“I started making these posters two months ago when my friend told me that he had tickets for me to come down to this event. I didn’t know anything and had never heard of this Milo guy,” said Berlin. “I heard Milo for the first time coming down here. I wouldn’t agree with everything that he says, and he wouldn’t agree with me. After all, it’s very complex, this issue of free speech. It’s very skewed. I’ve been abused and harassed by college administrators all my life.”

However, despite expressing disagreement with Mr. Yiannopoulos on many issues, Mr. Berlin stressed the values of free speech and open dialogue on college campuses.

“We should bring other ideas into [universities] that students may try to squelch, stymie, and squash,” he said.

By the time the event was set to begin, the excitement in the air was pablepalpable. Many had been waiting hours to hear Mr. Yiannopoulos speak. Finally, Brian Chen ’17, the President of the College Libertarians and Sandor Farkas ’17, the Editor-in-Chief of The Dartmouth Review, opened the event. Farkas explained that the co-sponsors did not endorse the views expressed by Mr. Yiannopoulos and had invited him to Dartmouth out of a desire to initiate political dialogue on campus. Following the introduction, an opening video including footage of some of the protests that have occurred at Yiannopoulos’ events was played. As the video ended, Yiannopoulos, dressed in black football gear and sporting thick eye black, stepped into the room to thunderous applause.

Throughout the course of the evening, Mr. Yiannopoulos touched on a number of topics. The focus of his lecture, however, was political correctness concerning masculinity, feminism, and fraternity culture.

Milo did not soften his words. “This election can be viewed as a battle between a man who epitomizes pure masculinity versus a woman who epitomizes man-hating feminism.” Milo was abundantly clear on his own views regarding the election and modern feminism when he said, “I’m sure we will all feel stunning and brave for electing a hospital-bound globalist in an ugly pantsuit while the ballistic missiles turn the earth into a fireball.” Quoting Camille Paglia, who he described as a “dissident lesbian feminist,” Milo declared with a boyish grin, “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”

Milo went on to passionately defend masculinity and all of its accomplishments. He claimed that nothing creates brotherhood more than hazing and taunting. He made wistful references to Spartan military traditions and outlined his vision of college fraternities as the last strongholds of masculinity in an increasingly politically correct culture. He referenced the Rolling Stone article authored by Andrew Lohse, whom he called “Andrew Loser,” and said this attack on one of Dartmouth’s most prominent fraternities represented an attempt to stifle traditional masculine traits.

He was happy to defend his views of masculinity as worth idealizing in their own right: “Men are by nature competitive, aggressive, and can be maniacally driven. This is a hormonal and behavioral fact, reflected throughout the history of humanity. It explains why men commit nearly all of the violent crime, but it also explains why men have invented and built nearly everything you own.”

Knowing, and enjoying, the controversy of these statements, Milo attacked the politically correct liberals who would reject his style of thought. “Feminists reject this kind of thinking but it is not compatible with their gender-bending, non-binary worldview in which gender is a social construct propagated by a misogynistic patriarchy. But all this is doing is denying biology. Men and women are different, we have different tendencies, skills, and behaviors. This should be accepted and fostered, not demonized. Because the end result is simply more effeminate men, and more masculine women. Who wants that?”

Audience reactions to Mr. Yiannopoulos’s lecture were mixed. This was primarily because Milo is emblematic of a new force emerging in the conservative movement. This force, termed “cultural libertarianism” by Milo and many of his supporters, has been on the rise as authoritarians of all stripes, from religious reactionaries to social justice warriors, have come under attack from a younger generation of thinkers, commentators, and new media stars.

“If conservatives are smart they’ll focus less on the obsessions of the 1980s like free markets and Bush-era neoconservative foreign policy. It’s not like those issues aren’t important, but young people care more about culture and free speech and all these cultural issues that go way beyond the old fashions of, say, abortion and traditional marriage,” said Allum Bokhari, a technology editor for Breitbart who works closely with Milo Yiannopoulos. “Young people care about things like the Leftist dominance of Hollywood, entertainment, video games, and colleges.”

The view expressed by Bokhari resonates well with many cultural libertarians and Trump-generation conservatives. They view themselves as fun-loving provocateurs, valiant and humorous defenders of traditional Western civilization, and edgy intellectuals. They thrive on testing the bounds of acceptability and indulging in deliberately outrageous jokes. Faced with the rise of a new totalitarianism from the Left, many young people across the political spectrum are beginning to converge on the new cultural libertarian consensus led by Milo Yiannopoulos. But not all young conservatives identify with this new cultural libertarian movement.

George Stanley Berlin: A free speech activist.

George Stanley Berlin: A free speech activist.

“I think Milo brings up a lot of valid issues, but I don’t see that as a very successful bipartisan way to run the Republican Party,” said Tyler Baum, a member of the Class of 2020 at Dartmouth College.  “I see Milo’s approach as polarizing Americans more than they already are, which is exactly what the Left has done over the past 8 years with liberalism. I don’t think Milo’s approach is the one we need to save conservatism.”

Many traditional conservatives have raised issues with Milo’s approach to political activism. Earlier this year, writers at National Review described cultural libertarianism and the views held by Yiannopoulos and those like him as “moral and intellectual rot.”

Yiannopoulos sees his no-holds-barred approach as a method of fighting for cultural freedom, but many conservatives believe that it is an anti-intellectual philosophy that promotes overt racism under the façade of attacking political correctness.

Regardless, it seems clear that there is a schism within the ranks of the conservative movement. National figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump have redefined conventional conservatism as an energetic, provocative, grassroots movement centered around free speech and cultural issues. The leaders of this movement are exciting and rebellious insofar as they represent a radical departure from the status quo. The popularity of Yiannopoulos and Trump should demonstrate to leaders of the conservative movement that change is needed. The Dartmouth Review looks forward to a healthy and robust debate about the future of American conservatism.

  • george

    3rd time on here to post; I am da guy with bag overhead! in milo article; pls correct next issue the error; I am George Stanley NOT George Stanley berlin! I am of berlin, NH though! -THX, pls acknowledge this letter, re
    ply reqstd

  • george

    THX yur inclusion and fuller coverage of me beyond the faulty 1-liner in the Dartmouth’s article. I stand at the nexus of choices; to open mouth, insert foot OR not to be? lol–I wish to raise the level of heat/temp in the room re discussion, broaden it OUT to the dangerous perimeters wherein we all encounter ourselves, each other’s flaws, diverse opinions to boot?! u provided that OP…I am that Enabler to help jumpstart the REAL argument albeit civil approach thru via sev means, 1 thusly represented above. I can now add to my 6-pager resume; FREE SPEECH ACTIVIST!!! I have been the heckler in the back calling out in counterpoint from the peanut gallery before Chomsky, SIR rushdie, desmond tutu, Obama, Cain, many Nobels, world figures of 2 centuries, etc. well, u get da picture? I wasn’t ever allowed to question my lapsed jewish, Jehovah’s witness elder -father in NH near Dartmouth si I will SPEAK FREE OR DIE! hereon in…agin thx for the new venue to get the word out there. you fulfilled my bucket list. next to get under my belt? the NEW YORK TIMES!! for my media achievements…and this fine compliment from a person sooo RAD I make Bernie look like a Conservative!!! “minds r like parachutes, they only function when OPEN”–Einstein “IN the FREE & OPEN marketplace of opinion shall all Truths b known to ALL.”–TOMMY Jefferson

  • george

    pls go to THE DARTMOUTH re MILO coverage to see my 3-4 comments to enlarge the debates?-THX!

  • Dartmouth ’17

    SAE “one of Dartmouth’s most prominent fraternities”…thanks Review for the good laugh

    • fribble

      They aren’t?
      Well then, who is?