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Bad move for campus group to alienate themselves

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JANUARY 20, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos, the gay poster boy for the alt-right, has been accused of being sexist, racist, transphobic and, ironically, homophobic because of his aggressively conservative articles and speeches. He has definitely practiced his fair share of First Amendment rights and has received as much backlash and attention as his comments are offensive.

In this op-ed, however, I’m not going to be talking about how much I disagree with Milo’s ideologies. As an openly radical feminist, I, of course, disagree with anyone who compares feminism to cancer — and disagree is an understatement.

But we don’t need to point out Milo’s blatant disrespect for women or discuss any of Milo’s ideologies, or even argue about whether or not he deserves to practice free speech. Most of what he says is offensive, and he has cultivated an immense fan base solely because of the controversial nature of his views.

Even Milo himself knows that his fame stems from being distasteful. His attempt to take an offensive stance on any topic is almost too blatant to be worth pointing out.

Unlike articles attacking Milo and/or Berkeley College Republicans, I want to address the consequences BCR would suffer for inviting Milo to our school and associating itself with him.

By having a famously offensive member of the alt-right speak at UC Berkeley, BCR would delegitimize its own political message and misrepresent a conservative ideology that has been subject to particular scrutiny and criticism after Donald Trump’s hateful and controversial statements. BCR is doing itself, and the Republican Party that it claims to represent, a disservice by associating with Milo and his hate speech.

Especially in light of Trump’s inauguration, BCR should invite a speaker who aligns with its beliefs. What a liberal school needs more than ever in this political climate is to hear the voices of reasonable Republicans. Bringing a speaker such as Milo to UC Berkeley does not change ideas or facilitate discussions; it will further alienate already disillusioned and frustrated liberals, and reinforce, legitimize and empower the hateful ideologies of those who agree with his views.

BCR will villainize itself in the eyes of liberals and moderates alike by giving Milo a voice on campus, as its invitation can be seen as a tacit approval of Milo’s messages. Milo would do nothing more than marginalize BCR here on campus.

I don’t believe that BCR endorses every offensive argument Milo makes. I certainly don’t believe that self-respecting, intelligent Republican women on our campus align themselves with Milo’s anti-equality agenda. Surely the women in BCR aren’t getting their degrees just to turn around and support the notion that women are all “cunts” who belong in the house, washing laundry by hand.

And I’m sure they’d be less than thrilled if some guy in class regurgitated to them what Milo preaches. Women in BCR would have to make a concerted effort to not recognize that Milo consistently attacks women — especially strong, independent women.

Just his presence on campus would be a slap in the face of women and a campus that purports to advocate for the equality of women.

But this isn’t a problem of free speech or how much a liberal school dislikes the alt-right. It’s about whether or not it would benefit anyone on campus by having Milo here.

Having Milo give a speech on a platform sponsored by BCR certainly doesn’t bring the liberals and conservatives closer on campus, and it wouldn’t widen any of our points of view either. We all know what hate speech looks like, and anyone who has the ability to Google Milo’s name will already gain a clear picture of the premise behind his arguments.

The only person who’s benefiting from Milo stepping foot on campus is Milo himself — he’s getting more publicity and more money. Maybe BCR has gained publicity from this whole controversy as well, but nothing more substantial than that.

Republicans in UC Berkeley certainly will not benefit from having a member of the alt-right give hate speeches on campus. The press coverage that already surrounds the topic is proof of the two sides’ growing distaste for one another.

Be responsible for what you’re condoning and perpetuating, and make sure what is said on our campus is good for our campus.

BCR, it’s up to you.

Catherine Straus is a former Daily Cal columnist. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

JANUARY 22, 2017