American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp announced earlier today that his group decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference “due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia.” (For those contending that accusation is a smear, the comments in question can be found here; decide for yourself. Strong language warning. It seems fair to say that at least at the time of that conversation last month, Yiannopoulos was not willing to make a blanket condemnation of relationships between grown adults and those under the age of consent.)
As I wrote earlier this morning, fighting Yiannopoulos with protests and boycotts is like fighting a fire with gasoline. The most salient point Yiannopoulos makes in his shtick is that the Left is intolerant, filled with rage, and incapable of respecting any dissenting view… and campus Leftists live down to his portrait, time after time. He has become a big show because he more or less is a walking, talking perpetual threat of a riot, and a big part of this is that he keeps going to places like Berkeley, the places most inclined to respond to provocation through violent outbursts.
It would be an enormous blunder for the Right to make the same mistake. And thankfully, the CPAC crowd is not a rioting crowd.
Perhaps the right measuring stick of Yiannopoulos is, what does he really have to offer an audience of conservative activists when he isn’t being shouted down, attacked, or besieged by riotous Leftists? We on the Right will rightfully instinctively defend anyone threatened by the pincers of a politically-correct speech code and the radical mob. Once that threat to free speech is removed… then what?
Are there things Yiannopoulos can teach us to advance the conservative cause, conservative ideas, or conservative policies? Can the methods that get him what he wants be used by others, or are they non-replicable? Does the toolbox of the provocateur really have the kinds of tools useful to those of us who want to build something more lasting and create structural changes – i.e., tax reform, a stronger military, a solution to the opioid addiction crisis, a thriving economy full of innovation and consumer choice, support networks of community and family, etcetera? I’m skeptical, but willing to listen. Let’s hear it.
Yiannopoulos triggers rage in Leftists like no one else in the world today other than Donald Trump, and a lot of folks on the Right will cheer that. But let’s face it, triggering rage in a Leftist is not a terribly hard thing to do.