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Tags: milo yiannopoulos | ucla | republicans

Why Milo Matters

Why Milo Matters
Milo Yiannopoulos speaks during a press conference on November 29, 2017, in Sydney, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Mark Bauerlein By Tuesday, 27 February 2018 11:58 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

A few months ago, Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at UCLA by the College Republicans — but recently he was disinvited.

The lead protest came not from social justice warriors on campus, however. A Professor of Sociology at UCLA, Gabriel Rossman, who describes himself as “one of the few conservative faculty at UCLA, and one of a very few who knows the campus club,” objected to him.

He said so in an open letter to the group that was published in the Weekly Standard and that made a promise, ". . . should the event go forward, I will decline to have any association with the Bruin Republicans until it has experienced a complete turnover in membership."

But why does a conservative faculty advisor who claims to like and support the conservative students have to publish the ultimatum in a national magazine? Why not write them a private letter, or tell them directly that he can’t back them if they proceed with the speech?

It seems a heavy-handed way to proceed, but for many on the Right (not to mention the Left), Milo represents a threshold moment. Professor Rossman considers him “purely malicious,” a “vapid provocateur.” Worse, for conservatives, Milo licenses leftists to believe that “principled conservative positions are actually born of racism.” Rossman warns the College Republicans that if they bring him in they will “lose their integrity and reputation.”

In other words, young Republicans everywhere must make a choice. Do they want to be respectable, responsible conservatives, or do they want to be irreverent, in-your-face conservatives? In the first group are Rossman, the Weekly Standard, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and columnists such as Bret Stephens and David Frum. President Trump, Breitbart News, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, and Milo line up on the other side. The first ones have the virtues of judicious leadership and civil bearing. The second group, we are told, offers low wit and heedless politicking.

But here's the question: When an opponent has picked up the lethal weapons of identity politics and political correctness, what do you do? Establishment Republicans typically respond with sober declarations that they loathe racism and sexism. Milo counters every accusation from the left with barbed raillery and ad hominem.

It isn't hard to determine which group has been more effective. When Ted Kennedy rose in Congress to unleash his character assassination of Robert Bork, warning American women what would happen to them if Judge Bork joined the Supreme Court, the Republican response back then was panicky and impotent. We got Anthony Kennedy, instead. If warriors like Milo were around then to announce to the press and over the web and on Twitter, "If anybody has no place talking about protecting women, it's you, Senator Kennedy," things might have turned out differently.

The reputable types don’t seem to have learned much today. Donald Trump won, but they're just as tentative as always. Perhaps you saw Paul Ryan's response to the furor over Donald Trump's "s***hole" remark. Speaking on a college campus in Milwaukee, Ryan answered a question about it with an oh-so-thoughtful description of it as "very unfortunate" and "unhelpful." He proceeded to go solemnly sentimental: "I thought about my own family," Irish immigrants who left another messy country and ended up Wisconsin farmers. "It's a beautiful story of America," he concluded.

You wanted to shout at him, "Why are you playing this game?!" The entire issue was about Democrats scoring political points off of the president's crudity. And Congressman Ryan helped them do it.

When your own political leaders let the other side set the terms and put you ever on the defensive, you want someone like Milo to cut the game off from the start. Forget whether President Trump spoke inappropriately in a closed meeting. Instead, he's likely to say, "Democrats ought to stop acting like teenage girls indignant over what one of them said about another one. Grow up!" Or something funnier than what I can come up with.

This is why Milo matters. Reputable Republicans push for tax cuts, but they wilt whenever a charge of racism is in the air. They want market deregulation, but they don't want to go near LGBT issues no matter how much Human Rights Campaign bullies and smears social conservatives. Battles are being fought over religion, manhood, historical statues, and bias at Google, but "responsible" conservatives want to avoid them. Liberals and leftists have made them nervous and conciliatory.

Milo understands that the best way to enter those skirmishes is by attack, not by defense, with eloquent disdain plus a few good wisecracks, not with reassurances that conservatives are, indeed, nice people. Are conservatives still so naive that they believe that the media and Democrats would treat the decorous Mike Pence any better than they've treated the coarse Mr. Trump once he becomes a presidential candidate?

Mark Bauerlein is Professor of English at Emory University and Senior Editor at First Things Magazine. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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A few months ago, Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at UCLA by the College Republicans — but recently he was disinvited.
milo yiannopoulos, ucla, republicans
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 11:58 AM
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