He is a Brit, Jewish and Greek in ethnicity, and identifies as both a practicing gay and “bad Catholic”. To be sure, one of the most controversial and colorful characters in the world of right-wing politics and culture today is Milo Yiannopoulos.
He says, however, that there is a method to his madness. He claims that because of his sexual orientation and sexual preferences (i.e. black males), is able to get away with sharing “hate facts” that others cannot say. Shocking people out of their complacency and simple-minded categories he aims to start conversations. This then opens the door for others, who in a more gentle and reasonable way, can persuade those who remain persuadable.
At the same time, Yiannopoulos makes Ann Coulter’s bomb-throwing look remarkably tame by comparison. His talks are laced with profanity, insult and overt and not-so-overt sexual references.
I contend that Yiannopoulos’s most dangerous bomb is also one of his most covert – even though it is presumably the basis for his entire program. Sometimes, he has summed this up as:
Read what you want.
Watch what you want.
Play what you want.
Think what you want.
Say what you want.
Elsewhere, he has claimed that “words only have the power you give them”.
This is Yiannopoulos’s biggest bomb. This is the phrase that should start the biggest conversation. Is he just saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” (even this, we know, is not fully true) – or something more?
Words are connected with all kinds of things. All kinds of things which exert their presence and influence our lives. And if we know – or even just believe – that there are some things in life that endure in our shared sojourn together on earth, then we cannot accept what Yiannopoulos claims. In other words, his words do not only not have enduring power, but ultimately, no real power at all.
And not because we don’t give them power, but because they are untrue. Unreal.
Regardless of what this world’s power-brokers think. Regardless of how much they want to say that truth is power and power is truth and you can just see this by looking at the evidence.
There really are things that are “trans-historical” and “trans-cultural”. There are things that will never fail to impress themselves upon all of us (things like fathers, mothers, joy, tears, food, and animals) and there are things that only have, due to the geographical and cultural limitations of some of us, the potential to impress (like snow and fish).
In sum, insofar as we are human creatures, we cannot avoid speaking about things that exist, that are real, that are true. We cannot avoid saying things that are true (we can only deny so much of the truth).
This is why saying “words only have the power you give them” is not the full story.
To sum things up, as I noted in a past post:
“A person who is conservative… would continue to agree with the words of the late Russel Kirk – or, perhaps, at least want to agree with him: “[conservatives are] all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.” “Conservatives” who say that what Kirk says is “no longer true” or irrelevant are being anything but conservative. After all, if what Kirk says is no longer true, how was it ever more than an illusion to begin with (given that he speaks of the words “constant” and “enduring” as if these terms mean something)?”
What Kirk says is also something that many of the ancient Greek philosophers, Yiannopoulos’s ancestors, would have upheld. It is certainly something that Christians have upheld and should continue to uphold. For if there is nothing that endures among men, the words we pass on cannot endure either… at least, this is the illusion that begins to colonize our mind.
And then, the Word of God, which endures forever, cannot endure among us.
But the Word of the Lord does endure forever. And, the “hate fact” of the matter is that it doesn’t matter whether or not you think you can ignore it by not “giving it power”.
(for more thoughts on this topic see this post, always open for comment and critique – and for philosophical justifications for the things I say here, see this: http://worldagainstmerages.blogspot.com/2015/10/several-theses-combined-with-some.html)
Note: This post was updated for the sake of clarifying the ideas therein on Jan. 28, 2017.
Milo Y. picture by @Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference @ Central Hall Westminster – London (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))