Conservatives in the US have latched onto the idea that “PC culture” is “dangerous” and “intolerant.” Accompanying this reactionary wave are pundits who believe conservatives in government value acultural free market principles above a white, Western hegemony. The cultural dissonance has spawned the alt-right, an ironically PC term for nazi-fetishizers who want a safe space for Christian white supremacists.
Enter Milo Yiannopoulos and his autobiography, Dangerous. Milo is a powerful internet troll. Picture Jonathan Pie, except sincere, gay, Jewish, and ten times as incendiary. He claims to have tried “praying the gay away” – music to evangelicals’ ears. He claims “behind every racist joke is a scientific fact.” In short, Milo is a young face on a tired idea: women need to be controlled, racism doesn’t exist, and multicultural, secular society begets anarchy. This is the new voice of an increasingly oppressive patriarchy losing its stranglehold on the US.
Milo believes his views are protected under Free Speech, but this is not the reason Simon & Schuster, home of such inoffensive editions as Green Smoothies For Life and Watership Down, is publishing Dangerous. In fact, S&S is not publishing his book at all. Threshold Editions, a conservative imprint owned by the giant publishing house, is footing the $250,000 advance. Every large publishing house has a conservative imprint, although their “controversial opinions…do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees.” To S&S, publishers can’t be bigots if they are merely capitalists. And despite common stigma, conservatives buy lots of books. Money still talks, and therein lies the problem.
What can concerned people do? Collectively, we can fight fire with water. Milo hides his pseudo-scientific, patriarchal hatred behind obnoxious memes and reactionism. Every time celebrities get outraged at what he says, it confirms to his audience that he is the punk disrupting their PC party. Very few have bothered to engage Milo on his own terms, and dismantle his rhetoric with intelligence and patience. His University tour has been met by protesters trying to shut him at every turn. Milo doesn’t care – he’s already been paid. Our words and our wallets can counter his views. James Baldwin and Isaac Asimov both identify the “apathy and ignorance” of America’s white population as its greatest weakness in the fight against mainstream bigotry.
Your Republican aunt that you only see at Christmas might buy Dangerous. Give her a leaked PDF so Threshold Editions doesn’t receive a cent. Better yet, buy her Go Tell It On The Mountain, or Between The World And Me, or Off The Road. The alt-right have an audience because their beliefs have always been present to a struggling minority of Americans. The whitelash is real, but those who will be affected by it the least should be the first to stand up to it.
There is still a chance to dismantle Milo’s ideas on a public stage. His followers need an avenue out of the abyss without patronisation of their more traditional beliefs. Reactionary responses like boycotts are anticipated and ineffective. The burden should fall mostly on people like Milo: white men like myself, who are able to blend in. We are the ones who need to show our own families that the multicultural future is better, more open, more productive, safer, and happier. For everyone else who already perceives the existential threat: stay healthy, so you can be present at demonstrations and events. Stay well-read on both sides of issues, so you can effectively debate. Learn the language – words like “race realism” – and how to refute it. If you can, use your economic power to support heterogeneous pillars of progressive thinking by buying, donating, or divesting appropriately. Know where your clothes, your food, your electronics, and your music festivals come from, and understand how pathological consumption allows businesses that favor profit over ethics.
Photo Credit: Kmeron