Baum: Yiannopoulous: (Con)servative
Milo Yiannopoulous is un-representative of the conservative movement.
I have been a conservative since I formed my political views and values early in my secondary school years. To be clear, the word conservatism is defined as the “disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.” Admittedly, there are a variety of unrestrictive factions within and interpretations of political conservatism, just as there are of any theory or ideology. These include, but are not limited to, Christian conservatism, paleoconservatism, neoconservatism, libertarian conservatism and moderate conservatism. Personally, my beliefs and values overlap among these groups, aligning with a strong conservative social and fiscal vision while aligning with neoconservatives on foreign policy issues.
A hot topic amongst conservatives over the past few days has been the British former senior editor of Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulous, and whether he is a member of the “conservative” movement, as he claims. Yiannopoulous was invited to deliver the keynote address at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference last week. However, amidst a recent scandal around his defense of pedophilia in a 2016 podcast published on YouTube, his invitation was rescinded. Conservatives like myself were in uproar regarding Yiannopoulous’ invitation even before the horrid and indefensible podcast on pedophilia was unearthed.
One issue that I, and many other conservatives, have with Yiannopoulous is that he does not seem to fall within — or come nearly close to aligning with — any of the aforementioned factions of conservatism.
Yiannopoulous stopped at Dartmouth in early November 2016 and used unnecessarily abrasive speech sprinkled with the language of white supremacy to tap into the dangerous “alt-right” community in America. He is a messenger for the alt-right themes of anti-Semitism and anti-Islam, straying from the true conservative ideals of freedom of religion. Despite Yiannopoulous’ brave commitment to free speech, I do not condone the hate speech spewed in efforts to offend liberal Americans, nor do I view it as effective.
Although I personally stand strongly against the scathing efforts of the progressive left to spread political correctness and squash Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, I do believe that bipartisan political discourse and open-mindedness is healthy and essential to political debate in America. Yiannopoulous’ attempts to automatically write the ideas of the left off as insignificant and unworthy of discussion is disappointing and unrepresentative of free speech-supporting conservatives.
Furthermore, I stand in condemnation of Yiannopoulous’ comments framing Islam as a religion of hate. He has previously stated that “America has a Muslim problem,” which is an irrational and closed-minded view of a religion that is largely peaceful. His viewpoint does not represent true conservative values. Yiannopoulous went on to say, regarding hate crimes toward LGBT individuals, that “it is of course perpetrated by Muslims.” I recognize radical Islam as being the most lethal existential threat facing Americans today; however, I characterize “radical Islam” generally as a misinterpretation of the tenets of Islam. I believe most conservatives join me in this view.
Adding on to his alt-right views regarding religion, Yiannopoulous has made outlandish remarks regarding lesbians. By making rash comments such as, “lesbians, if you want to be happy, suck a d–––,” he directly works against the legitimate conservative movement, which strives to reach out to all citizens, regardless of their lifestyles and personal choices. I do not believe condemning homosexuality or chastising those who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle is defensible, appropriate or rational.
Yiannopoulous does not stand for conservative values. I strongly condemn his despicable comments regarding pedophilia and the overall essence of his “alt-right” ideology. He is largely unrepresentative of conservatives throughout America and is incredibly harmful to our movement. During his visit to Dartmouth and throughout much of his “Dangerous F——” tour, he spewed dangerous vitriol and did not create an environment where differing ideas were welcomed. As a true free speech activist — something Yiannopoulous claims to be — I strongly oppose “safe spaces;” however, I gracefully value healthy discourse and the creation of an environment where all speech, ideas and values are welcome. Unfortunately, just as the progressive left does within “safe spaces,” Yiannopoulous does not support free speech when he shames any who hold opposing opinions.
I pray that Yiannopoulous takes a deep look at his presence and re-evaluates how he can advance the conservative movement — if that is what he truly desires to do. Until then, I call on him to disassociate himself with conservatives in America.