By Jonathon Van Maren
Plenty of people ask me why I spend so much time critiquing the alt-right and many of those associated with it. Why, I get asked, do I criticize the alt-right when the alt-left is just as bad, and happen to be the sworn enemies of conservatism?
There’s a few answers to that, of course. First of all, when the alt-right does something bad it is not necessary to first pause and condemn Antifa. That just makes you look reluctant to condemn the alt-right, which makes you seem sympathetic to a group of white supremacists who spend a lot of time on Twitter telling me that Hitler was misunderstood. And second of all, the alt-left cannot destroy conservatism, and the alt-right can. We know that the Left is a threat, but some people have believed for too long that the alt-right was made up of happy-go-lucky keyboard warriors and even defended them. Just look at what happened to Canadian online media outlet The Rebel when they made that mistake.
And that’s why I’ve so extensively critiqued Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the leading apologists of the alt-right (although he’s never identified as alt-right): Because I’ve seen many young conservatives get sucked in by his shtick and fired up by Milo’s expertise in “triggering snowflakes.” Milo claims he uses humor as a weapon, but having attended his Dangerous Faggot Tour myself, I have to say that unless adolescent name-calling and garish costumes are considered humorous, Milo doesn’t even deliver on that. His jokes—to use the word loosely—are not clever or witty, which is why he relies so heavily on cracks about fellating his boyfriends mixed with profanity.
But just like many people were positive that behind Trump’s bombast, there was some sort of grand scheme, there are many religious people who think the same thing about Milo’s reality show. Martin Hughes over at Patheos even called Milo “The Leading Catholic Guilt Evangelist,” and noted that Milo’s flaunting of his sexuality was actually a super-secret way of promoting orthodoxy:
One of the reasons that people say he can’t be a serious Catholic is his own seemingly proud homosexuality. However, Milo Yiannapoulos takes advantage of spaces in which he is allowed to discuss his homosexuality to talk about how evil homosexuality is, right in line with the Catholic Church.
Someone asked him once: “How do you reconcile being a Roman Catholic and a homosexual? That is something that I never really understood.”
Milo did not defend homosexuality. He said that homosexuality was a sin, and that he was a sinner and thus needed the blood of Christ.
Now, I’ve noted before that Milo may, somewhere deep down, actually believe this stuff. He does seem to be pro-life, and he has retained some of his Catholic background. But rather than promoting the orthodox in an unorthodox way, Milo is actually just giving young conservatives—mostly men—permission to act like jackasses. He’s the fusion of the libertine and the conservative, who can glorify mothers while calling women he doesn’t like the c-word, decry our broken culture while revelling in its brokenness, and offend simply because he can. Milo isn’t some Catholic secret weapon. If anything, he’s the libertine secret weapon to convince young conservatives that it’s okay to be vicious and crude and hedonistic.
And now, in a definitive response to those who insisted Milo might be a closeted Catholic missionary, he has announced that he’s getting married to his boyfriend. In an interview about his new book Dangerous on C-Span, he informed the host that the Americans couldn’t deport him back to Europe. “I’m getting marred to someone I love very much,” he announced, “so good luck with that—I’m afraid I’m here to stay.”
I’m afraid he is, too. And that’s a very bad thing for conservatism.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.