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How We Can Fight The Frightening Growth Of The Alt-Right

We mustn't be made of Milo.

23/02/2017 11:17 AM AEDT | Updated 23/02/2017 12:14 PM AEDT
Drew Angerer via Getty Images
Milo Yiannopoulos announced his resignation from Brietbart News during a press conference, February 21, 2017 in New York City.

Over the course of his professional career, Milo Yiannopoulos has mastered the art of provoking. His comments are just goading enough to capture headlines and outrage, but seemingly not damaging enough for many platforms -- college campuses, news networks, podcasts -- to silence him.

Despite being only 33, Milo can claim a lot: for years he had been the Tech Editor for the alt-right masthead Breitbart, writing incendiary articles such as 'Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy' and 'Science proves it: Fat shaming works', and steadily garnering a sizeable following from the corners of the internet because of it. He has become a commonplace element of late night TV and college campuses alike. He's good at what he does.

But in that 2015 interview, he stumbled.

"You're misunderstanding what paedophilia means," he told the host of a podcast. "Paedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature. Paedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty."

From there, the proudly gay Yiannopoulos defended "relationships in which those older men help those younger boys discover who they are."

Because of this clip, in the space of the past 72 hours, Milo's precious platforms have fallen from beneath him. He resigned from Breitbart after rumours circulated that other editors would leave unless he was fired, he was dropped as the keynote speaker at CPAC, and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, cancelled his upcoming book.

But that's not the end of the story. This isn't the end of Milo -- while the mainstream media might have backed him into a corner here, 'the news' is vastly unequipped to deal with the alt-right, its figureheads, and its new generation of keyboard warriors that won't stop until their voices are dominant again.

And they have a lot of fight in them -- through figures such as Milo, and Ben Shapiro, and groups such as the Australian alt-right coalition 'The Dingoes', the alt-right is making inroads into the mainstream. Milo's YouTube video 'Milo Yiannopoulos tells a lesbian she doesn't exist' has got more than 1 million views because its dangerous ideas are enticing to young audiences. The ideological recklessness that comes with youth is not exclusive to the left. Make no mistake -- in this day and age, being alt-right is cool.

Having a look at the alt-right's social media dominance gives this insight some grounding. Milo churns out click-baiting videos to his 1.8 million Facebook followers such as 'Trump Supporter Crushes Liberals and Identity Politics' (18 million views) and 'Trump Supporter Silences Those Marching In The Women's March In LA' (40 million views). This massive outreach is new, it is being constructively adopted by the alt-right, and it is becoming normal. Milo's status and arguments have become a staple of the culture that surrounds me. What was taboo five years ago in high school playgrounds and university lecture halls is now commonly discussed.

Milo stands as a big 'f**k you' to anyone who ever told you what to do. And if the younger generation find anything alluring, it's that.

My peers won't stop liking Milo because of his apparent condoning of paedophilia. They are the same peers who didn't stop supporting Trump after pussygate. The greater influence on their decision isn't what Milo says, but what he stands for. He represents a revolution against global liberalism that many people my age have taken for granted over the past eight years. The teenagers who are watching him are just starting to form ideas about the world, gain their own independence, and figure out that they, too, can get angry.

Milo stands as a big 'f**k you' to anyone who ever told you what to do. And if the younger generation find anything alluring, it's that.

Supporting Milo is not a political decision, but a sociocultural one. And this is something that can be fought, but it is social media -- not the mainstream media -- that should don the boxing gloves. Like when Twitter banned Milo's Twitter account after he racially and sexually vilified Leslie Jones from the Ghostbusters remake. Reddit similarly banned three forums that were hubs for alt-right discussion and validation. These two social media giants landed some punches in this new culture war, but didn't get a knock out. For that, we need people to stand up to Milo: not publishing houses, nor other companies or large media outlets. We need really, really cool people.

I want to see more cultural leaders -- the Betoota Advocates, the Jim Jeffries', the Josh Thomas' -- making videos, writing tweets, and taking interviews where they claw back some ground. I don't mean more Hollywood superstars signing up, but new-culture, Generation Z, social-media powerbrokers. Mock Milo's double standards of tolerance; ridicule his thinly-veiled calls to harass and abuse; make fun of his stupid dress sense. Do anything.

Make the isolated, angry people who compose the alt-right direct their passion towards other things. If it is only meaningfully challenged in a political sphere, but not a cultural one, the truly dangerous alt-right movement can pick up speed -- fast.

As long as you try your hardest not to sound like you're condoning pedophilia, you've got a real shot in the fight against the alt-right.

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