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Opinion: Why Milo should speak at UW

If you’re looking for social or political dialogue that’s equal parts snark, humor and candor, look no further than media firebrand and senior editor for Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos, a gay man that hails from London who started as a tech editor and writer for Breitbart News and became popular after calling out the “Gamergate” controversy, deducing a feminist bias among different gaming media outlets. He has since become a notable political commentator with a libertarian-conservative point of view, and is noted for being a “free speech fundamentalist” and “cultural libertarian.” He directs much of his criticisms toward modern feminism, Islam, political correctness, and other viewpoints he deems to be authoritarian-left.

Despite his tongue-in-cheek humor and sharply-quipped statistics and arguments, Yiannopoulos has attracted a negative reputation among many people. He is known for offending those in the political left — and some conservatives — for having certain opinions about race, class, sexuality, gender, and his notable adoration of President-elect Trump. He believes Black Lives Matter does a poor job of improving the lives of African-Americans or healing race relations, citing that a gross majority of black homicides are committed by other blacks (according to homicide statistics released by the FBI), and that many traditionally democratic cities have high rates of poverty for African-Americans. Instead, Yiannopoulos states that certain issues in the African-American community, such as fatherlessness, poor relations with law enforcement and a lack of political diversity are a greater threat to communities of color than what Black Lives Matter claims.

Yiannopoulos believes that third-wave feminism fails to better the lives of women, specifically citing its failures in confronting developing nation’s oppression of women. Despite the trivial pursuits of modern feminists to point out first world grievances, Yiannopoulos states that women in developed, European or North American countries have far better living conditions for women, while modern feminism attempts to censor contrary opinions. He believes the political left’s methods of political discourse have failed, and that by entrenching into identity politics and political correctness — rather than focusing on the concerns of their own country — they have abandoned large swaths of constituents and weakened our civic nationalism as a whole. These, amongst many other notable opinions, make Yiannopoulos a “cultural libertarian” icon for challenging commonly accepted ideas about cultural relations and politics.

While Yiannopoulos has been recognized by many as a notable reporter and a mischievous political commentator, many on the political left strongly disapprove of his beliefs, protesting his campus visits or public forums. One notable case was Yiannopoulos’ visit to UCLA with feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers and conservative commentator Steven Crowder, where hecklers lengthened the time of the event and frequently interrupted the speakers.

While Yiannopoulos was visiting DePaul University for his “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” Black Lives Matter protesters surrounded the stage, took a microphone and halted the talk altogether. Now protesters are starting GoFundMe pages and writing to the University of Washington in Seattle in hopes of canceling Yiannopoulos’ visit, stating that someone with his opinions isn’t welcome on their campus. However, Yiannopoulos’ visit could benefit the campus by highlighting someone that breaks the mould of what it means to be politically diverse and open-minded to opinions not often examined or discussed.

While poking fun at certain dissidents, professors and politicians, Yiannopoulos backs up his opinions with primary sources on cultural and political relations. For this reason, asking the University of Washington to ban his visit would be detrimental to all students. Freedom of expression — no matter how controversial or unpopular the expression may be — is important to maintaining a politically and intellectually diverse campus. Yiannopoulos is as educational as he is humorous, and his delivery can provide a stark contrast to the monotone and scripted feeling of many current political commentators. Even if there are some who disagree with his beliefs, they should feel all the more welcome to visit the talk and have a discussion with Yiannopoulos.

Many think Yiannopoulos is somehow dangerous to students, but creating echo chambers where certain opinions or beliefs cannot be openly stated or discussed is the only danger.

During a visit to the University of Massachusetts, Yiannopoulos said, “It’s important to give platforms to all speech, because sunlight is the best disinfectant … the best way to deal with people that you don’t agree with, whether they are conservative or progressive, is the full glare of the spotlight, because you should have confidence in your own opinions and you should have the fortitude and courage to believe that you can beat them in a fair open marketplace of ideas. If you believe those things, you should have nothing to fear from any speaker.” If we want to regard freedom of speech as important on any UW campus, let Yiannopoulos speak.