An Aborted Apologia for Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo YiannopoulosThere is nothing I like so much as a victim. I love defending them. And I will turn on a dime. I will denounce a man one day and defend him the next if I feel he’s become a victim. And for a short period of time, I felt that way about Milo Yiannopoulos. I’ll sketch out the argument that I was going to make and then I’ll discuss why I changed my mind.

The Case for Milo Yiannopoulos

There are various things that are wrong in the downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos. Let’s start with the fact that the man has been extremely vile for years regarding pretty much anything you can think of. But mostly he was sexist, racist, and transphobic. And he did it all in a manner to make it seem “cool.” Watching a 2 minute video of him is equivalent to receiving a doctorate in Hating With Style. Yet despite this, Simon & Schuster gave him a quarter million dollar advance on a book. CPAC made him its keynote speaker. (Good move, actually: Trump won white millennial voters.)

But then a known tape from 8 months ago shows up where Milo Yiannopoulos talks about the complexities of sexuality in young people and defines pedophilia as being attracted only to pre-pubescent children. Now, I have some sympathy for that view. When I see the outrage when some female teacher sleeps with her 16-year-old male student, I think it’s a bit much. I certainly think it’s wrong and I think the woman has obvious problems. But to pretend that this is in the same category of anally raping a seven-year-old is ridiculous. These matters are complicated, and Americans really don’t like complicated.

What probably got Milo Yiannopoulos in trouble, however, was this line, “I’m grateful to Father Michael; I wouldn’t give nearly as good head if it wasn’t[1] for him.” And that’s so clearly his shtick that it’s hard for me to take any more offense than hundreds of other things he said that were not over the line for the Good People™ at Simon & Schuster and CPAN and eventually even Breitbart.

The Better Case Against Milo Yiannopoulos

So I was willing to defend a man who has been very effective in making the world a worse place. But then I saw this headline at BuzzFeed, Milo Yiannopoulos Said He Was Sexually Abused as a Child and Resigned From Breitbart News. It was about his press conference yesterday. He said, “I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim. Between the ages of 13 and 16, two men touched me in ways they should not have.” He followed that up with, “My experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say almost anything on the subject, no matter how outrageous.”

Uh, no. You don’t get to do that.

As I said, the pedophilia remarks were his shtick. Now it would have been fine if he wanted to embrace his victimhood and say, “I was raped as a child and that no doubt is what has turned me into the vile person you have all come to know.” But he can’t say, “On this one issue (the only one you all seem to care about), I was wrong but the rest of what I said was right on!” Indeed, this was literally his apology at the press conference, “I don’t believe that sex with 13-years-olds is OK. I’m certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret… For those statements I made where I misspoke, I apologize.”

As Larry Wilmore said, “Go fuck yourself.”

He’s Not a Victim — Not for Long, Anyway

And note: I don’t think this is anything but a low point for Milo Yiannopoulos. For one thing, he’ll get to keep some if not all of the $250,000 advance. But for another, he’s done the fake apology. We won’t hear much for him for a while. But in two years at the absolute maximum, he’ll be back as a major player in the alt-right. Maybe he’ll go back to Breitbart. Regardless, time will heal his wounds. Because there is always a big audience for someone who can Hate With Style.

[1] Look, I’m not even going to explain it. Let’s just say that when you go around shaming people for being illiterate, you really better have your subjunctive mood down.

Can Democrats Take Back the House in 2018?

Greg Sargent - Dems Take House in 2018?President Trump’s new plans for vastly expanded deportations, and the forthcoming new version of his immigration ban, are a reminder: Trump is governing in full accordance with the xenophobic nationalism that drove his campaign. That posture may have driven up huge numbers among blue-collar whites, which offset his relative losses among college-educated white voters and helped him win key Rust Belt states.

But now that he is president, can the brutal real-world realization of these policies boost Democratic chances of taking back the House? If this is possible, what does that tell us about the political staying power of Trumpism in a broader sense? …

While Trump still remains very popular among blue-collar whites, those voters may not be all that decisive in the battle to wrest House seats from Republican incumbents. That’s because many of the districts where Republicans are weak have higher concentrations of college-educated whites and Latinos…

To be clear, Democrats still face a huge uphill climb — they have to net 24 seats, and Republicans still enjoy a huge amount of safe districts. Latinos turn out at low levels in midterms. Other factors, such as recruitment and retirements, will also matter. Trump may end up more popular than seems likely right now. And it should be stressed that Democrats still do have to address their weakness with blue-collar whites for all kinds of moral and political reasons.

But this is a dynamic to watch, and not just because of what it says about Democrats’ chances of taking back the House.

–Greg Sargent
Can Trump Help Democrats Take Back the House? Here’s a Big Thing to Watch.