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Why you can’t stand Milo Yiannopoulos — or why you love him

You don't have to like Twitter troll Milo Yiannopoluous. You also don't have to go to his speeches. (NEXTConf, Flickr)
LISTEN: What motivates professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos?

UPDATE: Milo Yiannopoulos’ event started an hour late on Friday due to a large protest on the University of Washington campus. Seattle police believe one person in the crowd was shot.

—Original story—

People either love or hate self-described provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Part of that dynamic is the controversy surrounding Yiannopoulos, a right-wing figure who has embraced the tactics of an Internet troll and put them on a professional level. It has led to some obscurity as to where the line is between the real man and the agitator. But if you ask him, he knows exactly who he is.

Related: Flyer calls UW Republican president “racist” for hosting Milo Yiannopoulos

“I’m what right-wing politics looks like now,” Yiannopoulos told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns Show. “Because the media has been covering this so badly for so many decades, you haven’t worked that out yet. This is what young conservatives look like. They are fun, mischievous, dissident, punk, trolly, good looking, fashionable.”

Yiannopoulos is a Trump promoter. He is the tech editor for the far-right online publication Breitbart, which has been associated with the alt-right. In fact, Yiannopoulos wrote a guide to the alt-right for Breitbart. The political movement — largely online — has been associated with other racist, white supremacist movements. Though according to Yiannopoulos’ guide, that is a misconception due to alt-right tactics.

Are they actually bigots? No more than death metal devotees in the 80s were actually Satanists. For them, it’s simply a means to fluster their grandparents … Anything associated as closely with racism and bigotry as the alternative right will inevitably attract real racists and bigots.

It’s that dynamic that attracts some to Yiannopoulos’ side — the extremism flirting on an inappropriate edge that in turn grates on the nerves of left-leaning people.

Yiannopoulos also has been a harsh critic of feminism, Islam, and political correctness. His actions got him banned from Twitter for violating its abuse and harassment policies. All of which has drawn ire from those who disagree with him.

That ire will be evident on Friday night as Yiannopoulos speaks at the University of Washington. Protests outside UW’s Kane hall are expected. The space holds around 700 people, and the event is sold out, according to the Seattle Times.

Why you hate/love Milo Yiannopoulos

Yiannopoulos hails from Great Britain. That hasn’t kept him from commenting on other country’s politics, America included. Add into the mix the fact he is an openly gay conservative, he said that it all adds up to upsetting left-leaning politics.

“They are particularly upset with me because I happen to be a conservative gay guy who has black boyfriends, and God knows what else, so they can’t get me on racism, they can’t get me on sexism, they can’t get me on homophobia,” Yiannopoulos said. “They can’t get me with any of their usual strategies. They are left with the horrifying prospect of arguing on the facts, and merits, reason, logic and data … The name-calling strategies and smear tactics just don’t work on me.”

“I’m not a white nationalist or supremacist,” he said, noting the common allegations against him. “I’m a Western supremacist. I think that freedom, democracy, property, capital rights, all of the things on which America was founded are the best ingredients for the best society. The left wants to associate those things with racism to make them toxic. Because it doesn’t believe in any of those things.”

Yiannopoulos argues his critics are a “small vocal minatory of social justice warriors – feminists, Black Lives Matter activists, professors … far-left weirdos who don’t like me.”

“But actually, most people really like me, even people on the left …” he said, citing as proof the fact his recent book went to the no. 1 best-selling spot on Amazon.

“If I were really a white supremacist, and if anyone really believed that, it would not have happened,” Yiannopoulos said. “There is no appetite for neo-Nazism in America. It’s ridiculous to suggest there is.”

From white supremacy to railing against feminists, whether it’s true or not, it has brought Yiannopoulos a decent amount of fame. Enough to sell out his UW appearance, as well as at other colleges across the country. And enough to surround those appearances with protesters.

Yiannolpoulos rationalizes the divide by explaining a controversial request:

“I’m asking people to reconsider what they thought they knew … whether it’s a good idea to outsource your moral thinking to other people,” Yiannopoulos said. “Should you just outsource your decision-making process about what language is OK to use, what hairstyle to have, what dress and what books are OK to read to other people? And who should those people be? Should it be the New York Times? Should it be Gawker, Vox, and Mic? Should it be universities? Should it be the government?

“The left is telling you that you should outsource really crucial, critical life decisions to them – professors, journalists, Hollywood celebrities,” he said. “The left wants you to believe that those people are better equipped and qualified to tell you who you should be, and what culture you should engage with.”

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