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Dangerous, by Milo Yiannopoulos (detail of book cover)

Dangerous, by Milo Yiannopoulos (detail of book cover)

Provocateur:
A Review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous

In February of 2017 many people had written Milo Yiannopoulos off after it transpired that he had given an interview on a 2015 Joe Rogan podcast, which was construed by some listeners as a defense of pederasty. On the show, he seemingly spoke fondly of his experience as 13-year old minor when he had had sex with a priest. Once the interview gained notoriety, CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) quickly rescinded its invitation to Yiannopoulos to serve as the organization’s keynote speaker at its 2017 annual convention. To make matters worse, soon thereafter, Simon & Shuster cancelled the publication of his book for which it had given a $250,000 advance just a month before. And what seemed to have been a maneuver to spare a revolt at Breitbart News, Milo gracefully resigned from his position as tech editor with his employer. In his own words, Milo almost gave up on his mission, but decided not to back down after the support he received from his many fans. Instead, all his critics managed to accomplish was to “piss me off.” Marshaling together a number of investors, he managed to self-publish his book—Dangerous—which rocketed to number one on Amazon’s bestsellers list even before its release, and at the time of this writing it is near the top of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

Inasmuch as Milo Yiannopoulos is a genuine gay celebrity, his memoir has been highly anticipated. To be sure, a number of celebrities who just happened to be gay preceded him. For example, in 1976, Elton John divulged in an interview that he was bi-sexual and his career suffered for a while as a consequence. In 1981, Billie Jean King became the first major female athlete to come out of the closet. Perhaps more than any other figure, Ellen DeGeneres has normalized gays in America. With a wholesome demeanor, she came off as the girl next door despite being a lesbian, and even received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2016. But for her and other public figures, their gayness was incidental to their celebrity. By contrast, Milo’s celebrity homosexuality is an integral part of his shtick. For example, he regales college audiences with his aspirations to one day be surrounded “by Nigerian bodyguards” and he recounts how he spent time during his youth in London losing his virginity in interracial five-somes with drag queens. Ironically, his main constituency—college-aged, straight white men—find these disclosures hilarious and entertaining.

As a First Amendment fundamentalist, Milo sees as his mission to push the boundaries of acceptable discourse. His outrageousness notwithstanding, Milo advances a compelling critique of the progressive movement, which has become dangerously ossified over the past few decades, losing sight of its commitment to economic security to a preoccupation with extremely divisive identity politics. As such, Milo deserves a fair hearing for no other reason that his growing popularity is indicative of a rising tide of populism that in large measure propelled Donald J. Trump into the White House.

Milo on Joe Rogan Experience # 702

His book critically analyzes a number of segments of both the progressive and conservative movements. As he points out, the political left in America that was once the champion of blue-collar workers, became disillusioned with this segment of the population by the 1960s for its lack of revolutionary fervor. This followed a similar pattern of the European Marxist theoreticians in the 1920s, who castigated the working class for its complacency and social conservatism. Seeking to reformulate their strategy, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, advanced a new form of revolution that would be based more on culture, rather than class. As he noted, the proletariat failed to rise up because it was still anchored in old conservative ideas, such as family values, religion, and patriotism. To be successful, Marxists must first establish a “cultural hegemony” that would eventually pave the way for its victory in politics. This idea was later taken up by the Frankfurt School, composed of European expatriate academics that were active in 1950’s and 1960’s America. The New Left, which emerged during the rise of the counterculture of the 1960s, continued in this direction as it ultimately established the regime of political correctness and the identity politics that we know today.

As a First Amendment fundamentalist, Milo sees as his mission to push the boundaries of acceptable discourse.

Sometimes derided as “cultural Marxism,” this orientation has gained great currency in the media, entertainment, academia, and politics. More and more, the political and media elite disparage the cultural values of the traditional working class. A speech that Barack Obama made on the 2008 campaign stump in a small town in Pennsylvania comes to mind, when he opined that working class communities “cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment.”

As Milo notes, one of the reasons why the progressive movement was so successful was because it addressed a number of important issues that had been ignored for too long, including establishing equal rights and opportunities for African-Americans, the disabled, women, and gays. But by the 1960s, Milo avers, it was possible to dismantle the system of Jim Crow and bring about equality effectively within in the framework of classical liberalism. No sweeping Kulturkampf was necessary.

At least in the realm of culture, the New Left had become the new establishment by the 1980s. In the realm of politics, the Democratic Party increasingly reached out to minorities, and although this segment of the electorate was once small, new voters could be imported by way of mass immigration from the third world. To be expected, this development created a large pool of cheap labor as well as a deluge in new welfare recipients who were more inclined to vote for the Democratic Party insofar as it favored an expansion of government programs to help the poor. Thus a built-in constituency for the Democratic Party was artificially created.

In an ironic reversal, the political left now pushes social taboos, seeking to restrict expressions of heterosexuality for its alleged contribution to “rape culture.” In this framework, straight white males have become the new “bourgeoisie.” So-called third wave feminism has been in the forefront in promoting this narrative.

It is Milo’s strident critique of this form of feminism that has gained him the most opprobrium. Although Milo does not characterize himself as part of men’s rights activism, arguably, he has emerged as the movement’s most noted spokesman. His track record displays a clear affinity for the movement. For example, he played a leading role in the 2014 “gamergate” controversy when he supported the online harassment campaign against women who decried the violence and misogyny in video games. Reminiscent of Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power, Milo cites numerous indices—including disparities in life expectancy, sentencing, education, and health care—to illustrate that women have made substantial gains over the past several decades. In fact, according to these measures, women are arguably more privileged than men in America today. As Milo demonstrates, studies have found that the wage gap shrinks to nonexistence when relevant, non-sexist factors are taken into account, such as chosen career paths, chosen work hours, and chosen career discontinuity. As a group, women prefer to study people-oriented disciplines like psychology, sociology, and social work, which on average are less remuneratively rewarding than STEM fields. In medicine, females physicians are more likely to specialize in fields like pediatrics, which pay less than some other fields that male doctors gravitate toward, such as elective surgery.

How could women close the pay gap? Milo’s answer comes from Christina Hoff Sommers (the Factual Feminist): “Step one: Change your major from feminist dance therapy to electrical engineering.”

Despite all of their faults, men have made tremendous contributions to civilization, as Milo expounded on in a debate with feminist Rebecca Reid at Bristol University:

You’ve been told that straight white men are worse than the Nazis. You have been told nothing good about your sex, your race, or your orientation, but I’m going to tell you something good, and it is: If the patriarchy exists, women should be grateful for it. It is what took us to space, it is what builds roads, it is what built the internet, [and] it is what protects and provides for women. If it exists, thank God it does! With their strength and determination, men have tamed the wilderness. Men built cities and the walls around us. They built the buildings that we’re in. Men’s curiosity led us to explore the oceans; their ingenuity has allowed us to reach the moon. And whenever feminism rises up and tries to ridicule you, to demean you for what you are, don’t pay attention to it. Don’t listen to it. We’re not in an age of gender equality; straight white women in the West are the most privileged class in the history of our species.

Milo’s problem with feminists is not so much that they are “hateful and outrageous,” but rather that they are “hateful and outrageous while claiming to be just, moral, caring, and egalitarian.” Gender and ethnic studies departments in colleges and universities come under his scathing criticism because he believes that lesbian academics, who often have an agenda, are woefully unqualified to instruct impressionable young women on how to relate to members of the opposite sex. But his argument with feminism is not that it represents something inconsequential and can be ignored; rather, he argues that it serves little purpose other than “hating men, making absurd demands, lying about inequality and obsessing over trivial issues. It has poisoned relations between the sexes, nearly destroyed due process, and constantly saddles businesses with pointless gender diversity requirements based on bogus economics.”

The existence of a pervasive rape culture on American college campuses has long been accepted as an article of faith in academia. Some studies have arrived at figures as high as 20 to 25 percent of women will be sexually assaulted during their time in college. But Milo debunks this figure, noting that the more reliable crime statistics from the Bureau of Justice indicate substantially lower numbers of 6.1 per 1,000 students and 7.6 per 1,000 non-students. Instead of 20 to 25 percent, the real figure is barely more than half of one percent. Furthermore, rape in the United States has declined nearly 75% since the early 1990s. He does concede, however, that women do indeed face a serious threat on the horizon: Islam. Where there is a genuine rape culture in the West it comes from Islam. For example, in the face of a severe refugee crisis over the past two years, Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe. The growth of Islam around the world, Yiannopoulos counsels, should be of grave concern to both women and gays. Islam, he contends, is the most bigoted ideology in the world today.

For Milo, the June 2016 attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, should have been a wakeup call to gays who see Islam as an ally. If America continues to opens its doors to Muslim migrants, he warns, the Pulse attack will be just the beginning. He cites a number of surveys of Muslims in the West who have expressed their contempt for gays and homosexuality. Expecting Muslims to assimilate in the West, he avers, is dubious: “When in Rome, rape and kill everyone and then claim welfare.” As an unabashed conservative homosexual, Milo has received his shared of vitriol from the gay community. In recent years, coming out as gay has become blasé. Coming out as a gay conservative, however, is not without peril. As Milo observes, the “gay establishment” has maligned conservatives for so long that when one of their own fails to do so, they often face ostracism and derision. Breaking ranks with many of his gay compatriots, Milo sees Donald Trump as a gay ally. With all his “pizazz and bluster,” Milo asks, how can gays not adore him? Illustrative of his affection, he refers to Trump as “Daddy.”

The art of trolling is to trap one’s target in a position from which there is no escape without public embarrassment. According to Milo, only one other person surpasses his skill in trolling: Donald J. Trump.

Ironically, Milo laments the mainstreaming of gay culture in recent years, complaining that the notion of normalizing gay life is at odds with what homosexuals have always represented. For him, it was exciting when gays were on “the very edge of culture, pushing the boundaries.” Their weirdness was their strength. Why, he asks, “would we want to give all that up?” He exhorts gays to abandon the social justice ethos and embrace their inherent edginess. Rather than obsessing over seemingly frivolous issues such as demanding that bakeries make cakes for gay weddings, he recommends that they address AIDS, which continues to disproportionately affect gay men. Perhaps indicative of changing sentiment in the gay community, at the end of 2016, readers of LGBTQ Nation news site name Milo the “Person of the Year.”

Troubling, Yiannopoulos’s discussion of gays almost entirely leaves out lesbians (except when conflating them with feminism). On numerous occasions, Milo has averred that female sexuality is more malleable than men’s. For that reason, he sees lesbianism more as a lifestyle choice than homosexuality is for men. He proclaims that it is “time to stop lesbians from running the gay mafia and get them back where they belong: in porn.” Milo is not called outrageous for nothing.

His position on the African-American community is also ambivalent. On the one hand, he cannot shut up about his penchant for black boyfriends. On the other hand, he categorically rejects the grievance-mongering in the African-American subculture exemplified by the Black Lives Matter movement. Then again, he parts with other American conservatives by acknowledging that blacks in America do have legitimate grievances stemming from historic discrimination in the form of Jim Crow and slavery. Because of deep-seated disadvantages, path dependency has militated against the numerous governmental and private efforts to improve the welfare of African-Americans.

Milo on The Rubin Report

A number of dysfunctionalities remain endemic in the Black community including poverty, inadequate housing, violence, and substandard education. Arguably, much of these maladies can be attributed to fatherlessness—an estimated 70 percent of Black children are born out of wedlock. Citing numerous studies in criminology, Milo debunks the notion that police in America are waging war against blacks. Instead, he sees the police as their greatest defenders insofar as they are working to control the serious crime epidemic in Black communities. He holds the media and academia responsible for inculcating an abiding sense of grievance in the hearts and minds of African-Americans, noting that they “are being fed a diet of anti-white, anti-police hatred, that inevitably, spills over into violence.”

A self-professed “provocateur,” Milo has been at the center of a number of free speech controversies. For instance, in July of 2016 he used Twitter to disparage what he saw as the radical feminist undertones of the new Ghostbusters film, and one of its stars in particular, Leslie Jones, who was subjected to racial harassment, or trolling, from some of Milo’s followers. He categorically rejected any culpability in this campaign of harassment insofar as Jones is a celebrity and should be expected to receive criticism. Be that as it may, Twitter revoked his account. Still, Milo believes that the episode was the best thing that ever happened to his career, insofar as it garnered him enormous free publicity. As he explains, the art of trolling is to trap one’s target in a position from which there is no escape without public embarrassment. According to Milo, only one other person surpasses his skill in trolling: Donald J. Trump.

As long as the political left dominates culture, entertainment, and the norms of everyday language, Milo contends, they can expect to win elections.

The conservative movement does not escape Milo’s acerbic censure. He derides mainstream conservatives as “cucks,” noting that for the past 30 years they have achieved virtually nothing on college campuses. By contrast, he boasts that he has “set the entire higher education system in America on fire.” Furthermore, beltway conservative elites have demonstrated little interest in the issues affecting ordinary Americans, as evidenced by Bill Kristol, who, as Milo commented, played into the white nationalists’ talking points when he suggested that America’s white working class should be replaced by immigrants.

Although he rejects the accusation that he is part of the alt-right, Milo nevertheless seems to relish the fact that the mainstream media seem determined to crown him the “queen of the movement.” Instead, he maintains that he only gave them a fair hearing. In the summer of 2016, he and Allum Bokhari wrote an article entitled “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” that was widely read in Breitbart News. Still, Milo is not without his critics in the alt-right. Writing in the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin called Milo “a subversive and a disease.” Anglin feared that Milo would hijack the alt-right and destroy it from within by making the movement tolerant of Jews and race-mixing. Consequently, he called for a “final solution to the Milo problem.” For his part, Milo blames the media and the extremist fringe of the alt-right for working together to drive out the more reasonable conservative and libertarian elements of the alt-right movement.

As long as the political left dominates culture, entertainment, and the norms of everyday language, Milo contends, they can expect to win elections. All of the conservative movement’s recent political victories will ultimately come to fail in the long run if they do not win the culture war. To that end, Andrew Breitbart founded Breitbart News in 2007 to serve as a conservative outlet that would seek to influence both politics and culture. For Breitbart, conservatives did not adequately prioritize winning the culture wars—conceding on issues like immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness—which ultimately enabled the political left to dominate the public discourse on these topics. As he noted, “politics really is downstream from culture.” Seeing hope in the increasing popularity of the alternative media, Milo noted that Breitbart maintained the top spot in political news on Facebook and Twitter for most of the 2016 election year. He was delighted that Trump chose Breitbart executive Steve Bannon to serve as his chief strategist in the White House.

How did the left succeed in dominating the cultural landscape? According to Milo, it is because they worked harder than conservatives. Consequently, conservatives will also have to work diligently to influence the culture in America and Europe. At the end of the day, politics is not won by commanding the facts, Milo argues, but by connecting with people’s experiences. To be sure, moderates and intellectuals have a role to play. But as Milo admonishes, conservatives need hell raisers like him if they are to win. He credits Trump with striking a savage blow in what will be a decades-long fight to reclaim creative freedom and freedom of speech from the political left. The reception Milo received from young conservatives on campuses across America during his “Dangerous Faggot” tour has given him hope. He exhorts dissident faculty members to use the army of young activists that he has created.

In Milo’s estimation, the main reason why the political left despises him so much is because he is supposed to be one of them. Proudly, he proclaims himself the left’s worst nightmare: “a living, breathing refutation of identity politics.” Moreover, he rejects the cult of victimization that has come to dominate so much of American public life. In a press conference following the revelations of his controversial interview, Milo conceded that he had used imprecise language and apologized for what came across as flippant remarks concerning his victimization, which he believed at that time allowed him to speak irreverently on the topic of the sexual abuse of minors. Despite this ordeal from his youth, Milo explains that he never saw himself as a victim; as he wants to make perfectly clear, the whole episode “takes up less space in [his] head than the time David Bowie called [him] out on a shitty Louis Vuitton knockoff.” Moreover, having sex with a priest at age 13 did not prevent him from having and enjoying sex for the rest of his life, as he abundantly makes clear. Although some might find his attitude on this topic insouciant, his message may be useful in the sense that it encourages people who have suffered abuse not to define themselves by their victimization. As Milo explains, getting over one’s abuse does not mean forgetting about the past; rather, it means not being stuck in place by it.

To help them in their battles ahead, Milo offers advice to conservative activists, counseling them to never apologize for their principles, work harder than everyone else, stay humble (!), be twice as funny as you are outrageous, seek attention, and be hot—“Be Tomi Lahren, not Lena Dunham”—and most important, have fun along the way. Adopting as his motto, “laughter and war,” Milo reminds us that no one wants to hang out with squares.

Likening himself to the Roman general, Cincinnatus, who dropped his plough to lead an army to victory and secure the safety of his homeland before returning to the farm, Milo proclaims that he wants nothing more than to declare victory and pass on the baton so that he could go back to the chaise lounge sofa and indulge himself in silk and champagne. Alas, he does not see that happening in his lifetime, so he is resigned to the fight.

Although many of his detractors hate him, it was the many absurdities of contemporary identity politics that gave rise to Milo, for it was only a matter of time before a counter-movement emerged to challenge the hegemony of the social justice left in the culture of the West. He embodies the irreverent ethos of the mischievous and sometimes mean-spirited online right. Highly entertaining, charismatic, and as he likes to put it, “transgressive,” Milo is one of the most influential figures to have emerged from the rise of the Trumpian right. Dangerous will inform, offend, entertain, and outrage its readers—at times—all at once. END

About the Author

Dr. George Michael received his Ph.D. from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. He is an associate professor of criminal justice at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Previously, he was an associate professor of nuclear counter-proliferation and deterrence theory at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. He is the author of seven books: Confronting Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, The Enemy of my Enemy: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right, Willis Carto and the American Far Right, Theology of Hate: A History of the World Church of the Creator, Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance, Extremism in America (editor), and Preparing for Contact: When Humans and Extraterrestrials Finally Meet. In addition, his articles have been published in numerous academic journals.

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