In defense of Milo Yiannopoulos

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Franchesca Spektor/Staff

The Berkeley College Republicans have suffered much criticism and abuse for inviting Breitbart tech journalist and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to campus Feb. 1. In light of recent events here and at previous stops on Mr. Yiannopoulos’ “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” we believe that an explanation is in order.

We invited Mr. Yiannopoulos precisely because he raises taboo political topics that our club believes are necessary for, and essential to, a complete political debate — and he uses humor and satire while doing so.

In order to fully develop intellectually, we must not hear solely from those with whom we agree and those who make us feel good — we must have our views challenged. Berkeley College Republicans are in fact the real thinkers on this campus precisely because they have the courage to stand up to UC Berkeley’s reigning ideological orthodoxy and to form their own opinions in the midst of a tidal wave of hegemonic liberal thought.

What is more, any view that deviates from the liberal status quo these days is considered “hateful” and “bigoted.” It is nigh impossible for a Berkeley College Republican to disagree with one of his liberal peers and still expect respect afterward — his outstretched hand of friendship is often left hanging in the air.

Yes, we acknowledge that Mr. Yiannopoulos is controversial. But where was all this outrage when Louis Farrakhan, a vehement anti-Semite and Black separatist, spoke at UC Berkeley? The double standard being applied by the campus community and self-styled “anti-fascists” is as disturbing as it is irrational.

In any case, the views Mr. Yiannopoulos will express Feb. 1 are not necessarily those of the Berkeley College Republicans, and we disavow any violence or hurt that may occur as a result of his coming to campus. But he is an influential journalist who refuses to be censored, gives a voice to repressed conservative thought on American college campuses and voraciously defends all speech, whether it comes from the left or right. In the past, Americans have fought and suffered for their right to express themselves; what we are doing here is no different, because at the end of the day, we know it is right and just that people’s feelings should take a back seat to open discourse, facts and free speech.

And what do we say to people who are offended by Mr. Yiannopoulos?

The Berkeley College Republicans believe that we should err on the side of more speech instead of less. Our campus is not a “safe space,” and true to Cal’s motto, “Fiat lux,” light will be shed upon issues in ways that some may find uncomfortable. Moreover, because of the levity Mr. Yiannopoulos often introduces in his speeches, he is liable to be easily misinterpreted and misrepresented. Students should use the critical thinking skills they are supposedly taught at UC Berkeley to discern which of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ comments constitute humor and which of them substance.

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20. Liberals can no longer simply cover their ears and shut their eyes to reality, for there will no be escaping conservative politics any longer. It is time to mature and realize that you will encounter people with whom you may not agree, but the adult, educated, reasonable thing to do is to ignore them and move on if you cannot otherwise befriend them or tolerate their company.

On Feb. 1, do not what you have done in the past. Do not illegally release the personal information of our members with the intent to harm. Do not steal or destroy our private property. Do not insult, yell at, spit on, intimidate or otherwise physically assault us. Do not attempt to shut our events down with threats and acts of violence — rather, peacefully protest outside or sit in a seat for which you procured a ticket, stand when called upon and ask Mr. Yiannopoulos an earnest question in expectation of an earnest answer.

Pieter Sittler is the internal vice president and Troy Worden is a member of the Berkeley College Republicans. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter

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  • Milo_and_the_Boys

    Can we invite a few local boy scout troops to Milo’s speech? I think it would be an amazing experience of discovery for them.

  • Frau From Fly-Over USA

    Fine, give the racist a forum in any location of his choosing when his political party, the GOP, drops the specious ‘Religious Freedom Act’ and other numerous bills to strip away women, gay, immigrants rights and freedoms. Deal?

  • Ben

    Classic privileged white boy who can’t get enough of himself, totally one dimensional (you find them lining the front benches of the conservative party in parliament). Deliberately inflammatory and offensive – heirs from a similar part of the world as Nigel Farage (who’d have guessed). He probably met a Muslim once that he didn’t like. I guess its not his fault the world is so full of hate (that’s on all of us) but of all the speakers in the world why would you give this guy any air time?

  • disqus_lCik0TlIfq

    It is interesting that the writers have asked people not to do to them what their speaker has done to others.

  • KT

    “Moreover, because of the levity Mr. Yiannopoulos often introduces in his speeches, he is liable to be easily misinterpreted and misrepresented. Students should use the critical thinking skills they are supposedly taught at UC Berkeley to discern which of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ comments constitute humor and which of them substance.”

    This is just another example of extremists attempting to hide their contemptuous remarks behind a guise of “humor.” Just like “locker room talk,” the true meaning doesn’t escape thinking individuals. This article is full of insults for non-conservatives–hardly a way to promote dialog.

    Inviting this hate-mongering jerk to speak at UC Berkeley reflects very poorly on Republicans. While I enjoy discussing issues with people who can reasonably disagree, and I have respect for many Republicans and their values, this speaker just makes Republican students look bigoted, intolerant, and hateful. Is this how you want to be perceived?

  • dnaxy

    Melanin diversity yes! Synaptic diversity no!

  • BerkeleyDude

    Disagreements that are talked through and addressed can be very valuable in helping people grow. That’s true. Something else that’s important is solidarity and a feeling of being welcome. So spitting on someone because you disagree with them is not good. Similarly, it would be wonderful if the officers of BCR during the event would call out any gratuitously hurtful comments that the speaker might make on people. Doing so would show solidarity and grow the feelings of being welcome rather than shrink them.

  • red

    Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, hoping to make the target question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.
    Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film, and has been used in clinical and research literature.

  • lspanker

    In order to fully develop intellectually, we must not hear solely from those with whom we agree and those who make us feel good — we must have our views challenged.

    True, but unfortunately so-called “tolerant”, “enlightened” liberals believe that only OTHER people should have their views challenged, not theirs…

    • MaestroMike

      So you’ll be there, Spanky? I’d love to finally meet your acquaintance.

  • swampland

    Those trying to shut down the February 1 appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos are strong advocates of diversity at in all aspects of campus life except thought.

  • Arafat

    Your message to liberals will fall on deaf ears. Their interest is in doing whatever it is they want no matter how illiberal it is.