Milo Yiannopoulos visits UH
On Monday evening as the sun set on UH, dozens of red hats suddenly appeared.
The now-infamous ball caps, emblazoned with that now familiar political slogan, converged on our Student Center. The lines grew long outside the theater and many were turned away as the announcement rang out that there were no more seats. Inside the packed theater, the red ball caps, alongside many others, waited in anticipation.
When Matthew Wiltshire ’17 of the University of Houston College Republicans announced that Milo Yiannopoulos was here, the crowd burst into applause and the shouts of “USA! USA!” filled the theater. The self-proclaimed “most fabulous super-villain on the internet” took the stage.
Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor for Breitbart and an avid supporter of Donald Trump, delivered a speech on the beliefs and rationale of the political movement known as the Alt-Right. Milo, the 31-year-old gay conservative, does not self-identify as a member of the Alt-Right, though many of those who do often support him. In a humor-laden speech, Milo delivered a diatribe against modern notions of political correctness, third-wave feminism, globalism, and progressivism. He asserted that the censorship of speech on college campuses is part of a larger cultural matrix of social control that penalizes people for having conservative opinions.
On one occasion he was heckled by a single protester who was escorted away by security. The event was otherwise uninterrupted.
He proceeded to relay the roll of martyrs now well known to his followers, including Justine Sacco, Sir Tim Hunt, and others. These, he said, were the victims of political correctness. After attacking the political left for “the demonization of patriotism,” he answered questions about his own views on sexuality, religion and his favorite book, Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche.
Milo ended his time with a final note about censorship. “If you truly believe an idea is dangerous”, he warned, “the worst thing you can do is censor it”.
Milo’s appearance at UH was long-awaited as he was unable to appear at an event in the spring semester on his previous speaking tour.
The pent-up energy was evident in the crowd as they anticipated his punchlines, applauded his rhetoric, and shouted their support for the pictures he displayed of Harambe the gorilla and Pepe the frog, both popular subjects of memes among members of the Alt-Right.
Eventually the crowd had to be denied more time for pictures and autographs and Milo departed, but the message of the speech lingered in the air. In the crowds, individuals could be heard speaking their mind on controversial topics with impunity.
With such a message filling the theater, with events such as The Young Americans for Liberty free speech event hosted earlier that day, and with the growing popularity of the Alt-Right, one could sense that discourse on the college campus is undergoing a profound shift.
One could watch the red ball caps march single-file out the door. And one could only wonder what happens next.