By Dylan Sahlin
The greatest weapon of any ideologue is their charm. To be effective, they need to be liked. They need to be alluring. And they need to be entertaining. Once you have your audience entranced in the spectacle of your charisma and eloquence, you can get them to pretty much believe anything.
Be honest. When was the last time you didn’t have that inescapable urge to support your best friend in an argument you knew they were losing?
This principle is the centrepiece of Milo Yiannopoulos’ political strategy. His persona comes first, his argument second. And, of course, being tall, handsome, brilliantly metrosexual and impeccably well-groomed certainly doesn’t hurt. As long as his diatribes are exciting and enticing performances, the strength and validity of the arguments they rest upon don’t really matter.
Delving into his interviews, media appearances and articles, this begins to show everywhere you look.
Defending himself against the endless stream of (quite understandable) accusations of racism, Milo snapped back he couldn’t possibly be racist because of his “very anti-white bedroom policy“. Taking it further, he argued it couldn’t possibly be true because of his professed love for “black dick“. The argument is absurd. It is utterly nonsensical and grossly offensive. It goes without saying that a sexual predilection for a particular race doesn’t mean shit when it comes to your views on racial equality and oppression. But the spectacle of controversy and edginess his flamboyant rhetoric creates provides a cover for his bigotry. It accomplishes what it sets out to do: hiding the actual argument in a sheen of colourful controversy. White heterosexual men hear and lap it up because, more than anything else, it is entertaining. And just like that, the degrading sexual fetishisation of African American men becomes cheeky and playful sexual banter.
This tactic doesn’t stop with racism though.
Himself a homosexual, Milo is famous for his oft-repeated phrase that if given the chance “he would change his sexual orientation“. Aside being from a glaring indicator of his personal insecurities and self-shame, one doesn’t have to extrapolate very far to see the effect this would have on young and still indecisive members of the gay community. Milo labels it as another of his tirades against ‘political correctness’. In reality it has nothing to do with political correctness. Yet again, he can’t see beyond his painfully simplistic tunnel vision of the world. The world extends beyond your bubble, Milo. Your words set an example. Your words have an effect. And your words provide the bedrock for the continued wave of gay suicides sweeping both the developed and developing world. Not even close to a championing of the freedom to express oneself, it’s a shameful attempt to trigger controversy to beef up his retweets. It’s fucking disgusting.
So amongst this jumble of shallow and vacuous reactionary nonsense, you might ask: what is his purpose? It isn’t all that complex. As James Kirchick quite rightly argues “Yiannopoulos appears less an ideologue than a rank opportunist who is using politics to make a buck and become Internet famous.”
Milo has created a brand. He has spent years drumming up controversy, and he has achieved what he set out to achieve: recognition. The fact that recognition is mostly shrouded in a cloud of ridicule and hatred is really of no importance. He gets off on the attention. Just like other narcissists, no matter what that attention is about he feeds off it. He wants to be famous and is willing to sacrifice every shred of his self-respect to get it.
Milo doesn’t have moral principle. He has an insecurity complex.
As long as we realise how ridiculous the man is, lets keep him around. He’s good entertainment.