By Jonathon Van Maren
In 2020, I reviewed White Noise, a documentary on the alt-right, for National Review. I noted that the “movement” was largely a product of the media amplifying fundamentally fringe voices in order to “explain” Trump. Both the media and the alt-right believed the myth of a large, growing, powerful movement—but as the documentary reveals, it imploded almost overnight, with the central celebrity figures largely vanishing. I thought at the time that after several years researching and reporting on the alt-right (in order to warn rank-and-file conservatives about what these people were really all about), that review would be the last thing I’d write on the issue. Then, Lauren Southern decided to release a postscript to the rise and fall of the alt-right titled “The WHOLE Truth.”
Those of you who didn’t follow the alt-right (or alt-light) probably won’t find any of this interesting; those of you who did will find much of it to be old news. But Southern’s revelations make her documentary worth a brief review. As it turns out, these folks were as decadent as they accused their opponents of being; they stole, slept around, slandered, and then swiftly subsided. Of the various figures that Southern exposes, none besides Paul Joseph Watson still maintain a public profile (Watson spread rumors about Southern being a sellout after she went offline for awhile; she says it is because she declined his advances). Faith Goldy has returned to private life after losing her run for mayor of Toronto. Milo Yiannopoulos is…well, we’ll get to that.
Southern’s documentary was revealing in that in confirmed what some of us were pointing out at the time. A key quibble here would be that Southern consistently refers to the alt-right (or “alt-light,” as some called it) as “the conservative movement,” which it never was. The alt-right was, as the name indicates, an alternative to the conservative movement, and explicitly challenged conservatism as weak and decadent. In its most toxic form, the alt-right was Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer, a racialist ideology shot through with anti-Semitism and vicious contempt for non-white people. In its “alt-light” form, it was grifters like Milo Yiannopoulos, who persuaded many young conservatives that you could be…well, conservative while calling women you disagreed with the c-word, boasting publicly (and constantly) about fellating other men, and living like a knock-off Kardashian.
Of the figures that Southern exposes, Milo comes off the worst. It is worth reviewing what she has to say for a few reasons. First, those of us who pointed out that he was an amoral grifter took a lot of grief at the time. I actually went to one of his events and reviewed it; many conservatives informed me that I simply didn’t “get” Milo because he was a streetfighter; someone who could take it to the Left on their own terms. Because he was crude and flamboyantly gay, he was somehow uniquely equipped to be crude and flamboyantly gay at the Left, which was somehow a Very Good Thing. Milo was the personification of the version of an ideology that had nothing to do with conservatism and instead was all about triggering progressives.
As it turned out, Milo was more of a fraud than I thought. He didn’t write his own columns; he didn’t even write his own book, Dangerous. When his ghost-writer asked to get paid for all this work, Southern alleges that Milo blackmailed and threatened him with false rumors. She also alleges that the “White Privilege Grant” Milo set up—with money donated by his fans—to assist under-privileged white kids go to college was used by Milo to fund his lavish lifestyle. Milo then accused one of his staff members of losing the $100,000. Southern says he stole it; her evidence is compelling. Every step of the way, Milo lied, stole, smeared, and attempted to destroy the lives of those who got in his way—eventually, including Southern herself, who became one of Milo’s targets in a long “expose” he wrote because she declined to give him information he could use as blackmail against mutual friends he’d fallen out with.
Southern’s revelations about Milo are relevant because as is his wont, he’s on to the next thing. Currently, he’s doing an unpaid internship with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene; claiming he has plans to set up a clinic for those who want to leave the gay lifestyle in Florida (fundraising again—what a surprise!); and now works with Michael Voris’s media outfit Church Militant, where he hawks statues of Mary and recordings of himself reading the Psalms. To my knowledge, Milo has never apologized to those he stole from and those he wronged; he has obviously never apologized to Southern and those he allegedly smeared by spreading vicious rumors. I have no opinion or knowledge about Milo’s rejection of his previous lifestyle; I have always believed that he is profoundly untrustworthy. Southern’s documentary confirms it once again.
Again, this was all a long time ago in political years. Three or four cycles of one-hit wonders have come and gone since then. But it is still worth pointing out, to those who got sucked in by these people, that they were narcissists, grifters, and utterly unprincipled, proud hedonists (that’s not a slur—that was their thing, the “edginess” of this “movement.”) The only really shocking part of this all is that they thought they’d get away with it long term, despite leaving a mile-wide digital trail. Someone was always going to get fed up and expose the lot of them; they were always living on borrowed time. Southern herself comes off as honest, but hopelessly naïve. This video is obviously an attempt at a full rehabilitation after some of her more overtly alt-right antics back in the day—it’s a pretty effective attempt, too, I’d say. She appears to have changed her mind about some things, and that’s great.
Again, if you didn’t follow the alt-right at the time, the video isn’t worth your time. But if you did, and you want to know what happened to Milo, and Tommy Robinson, and a cast of other characters, then it is a decent post-script to this sad “movement”: