British, US-based alt-right commentator and former editor at Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos will be visiting Australia as part of his “Troll Academy” tour in December.
Yiannopoulos first emerged during the “Gamergate” scandal, when the death and rape threats against women that proliferate in the video game industry came under the spotlight. He managed to stay in the public eye by becoming the US golden-boy of neo-Nazis, anti-feminist men’s rights activists and white supremacists. It is no coincidence that his rise comes at a time when the international “alt-right” is making gains throughout Europe.
Yiannopoulos himself is a walking contradiction. Despite being a gay man, Milo has claimed that lesbians are “not real” and that he would “cure” himself if he could. Despite his marriage to a Black man, he has spouted such racist gems as “Behind every racist joke is a scientific fact”. And despite his Jewish heritage (though Yiannopoulos is Catholic), he makes light of the Holocaust.
Yiannopoulos uses these “credentials” to deflect criticism of his homophobic, sexist and racist diatribes. He has attempted to distance himself from the organised far-right, but Yiannopoulos has links to prominent unsavoury characters of the right. Among them are the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer — well known as the white supremacist who took a punch to the head on national television during an interview about Trump’s inauguration — and former “White House Chief Strategist” and executive chairman of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon.
In October, leaked emails revealed that Yiannopoulos had repeatedly solicited neo-Nazi and white supremacist figures on the alt-right for feedback and story ideas in his work for Breitbart.
Yiannopoulos has published articles such as “How to make women happy: uninvent the washing machine and the pill”, “The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: women should log off” and “No, JC Penney, fat people should absolutely hate themselves”.
He gave a speech at the University of Central Florida in Orlando entitled “10 things I hate about Islam”.
Yiannopoulos is a classic troll. He personifies the cynical war on “political correctness” and the regressive ideas behind the ascendancy of Trump, whom he lovingly refers to as “Daddy”.
Because of his trollish brand, there is a tendency for people to say we just need to ignore figures like Yiannopoulos. But, now the US has a troll in the White House, we can no longer ignore the rise of the alt-right. We need to challenge it.
Since his tour was announced, the Australian mainstream media, including the Daily Mail, Fairfax press and Sunrise, have tripped over themselves to profile Yiannopoulos. The media certainly is not ignoring him, hoping he will fade away.
In the US, on the back of the wave of Black Lives Matter protests, activists have been targeting the events of alt-right figures and organisations. These demonstrations have built to massive mobilisations, such as the 40,000-strong rally in Boston after Heather Heyer was killed by a neo-Nazi who drove into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville.
Yiannopoulos has faced furious crowds at his speaking engagements in the US, and we should be sure to give him the same greeting on his Australian tour as well.