"We do not cancel speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own," Dean of Students John Ellison informed our students, their parents, my colleagues, and everyone else who cares about higher education in our country.
At the time, I had heard of Milo, that he was gay and saying things that seemed to upset my academic colleagues, and I was dimly aware that something had happened when he came to our city to speak at DePaul. I was fairly sure it was his talks (as well as Ben Shapiro's) that had been part of the stimulus behind the dean's letter. I had read some of Milo's articles on Breitbart and liked them, but I knew nothing of his history with GamerGate, and although I had read his review of Ghostbusters, I was blissfully unaware of the Twitterstorm over Leslie Jones. Being curious, and like Milo, a natural contrarian, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, particularly since I had been involved in my very own skirmish with the Social Justice Warriors at about the same time Milo was starting the first leg of his Tour the previous winter. (The blog post that sparked my personal feminist gaspfest was entitled "Talking Points: Three Cheers for White Men." Yes, really!)
That week in September, I spent three days back-to-back watching the videos of the talks that Milo had given the previous spring.
And fell in love.
A few Sundays ago, our catechumen class was discussing the passage in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus, having been baptized, had begun to preach and gather followers.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fisherman. And he said to them: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately, they left their nets and followed him."Have you ever had an experience like this?" our teacher asked. "Can you imagine simply dropping everything to follow someone in the way that Peter and Andrew did? What must it have been like for them, to give up their livelihood, everything they had known, in order to follow Jesus? What do you think they saw in him?"
One of the students replied: "It didn't come out of the blue. They had probably been praying for something like this to happen to them. They were most likely very spiritual men and had been longing for the Spirit to come into their lives."
|Milo and his men|
Don't get me wrong. Milo, godlike though he may be, is not God. But he dropped into my life and, to judge from their testimonies, into the lives of his now 1.3 million Facebook followers like the answer to a prayer. In September, he told the incredulous ABC interviewer who was grilling him about being a troll in the Ghostbusters Twitter exchange: "I like to think of myself as being a virtuous troll... I'm doing God's work.... Trolls are the only people who tell the truth these days."
My own friends on Facebook, people I went to high school and college with, people who like me have spent our careers in academia, have spent the last several months trying to shame me out of my admiration for Milo. One calls him my "vile boyfriend." Another makes rude comments on my threads and says he is just following Milo's example. Another accuses me of not caring about truth because "it is part of the alt-right's strategy" now to "lie lie lie." Another, just yesterday, spent hours insisting I have "lost it": "Please explain how Milo is doing 'good,' helping poor disrespected white supremacists?.... You embarrass me.... You have indeed lost your mind.... Have you considered that you have a common obsessive compulsive disorder focused on media Milo?" (This latter was an interesting exchange: the more I posted what I thought of as evidence for Milo's positive appeal, the more my friend became convinced I was crazy.)
By far the most important thing that Milo has taught me is how to counter such attacks with laughter. As Milo always says, "Nobody can resist the truth wrapped in a good joke." And yet, as we have seen with the protests mounted with increasing fervor over the course of his Tour, they will try as hard as they can never to listen. And they will scream and scream and scream and scream lest somebody let the laughter in.
I love Milo because he tells the truth.
He tells the truth about women (for which he is called a misogynist), that some of them quite like the thought of becoming mothers and are willing to make choices about their careers that mean they do not work the same kinds of hours or in the dangerous--and therefore higher-paying--jobs that men do.
He tells the truth about Black Lives Matter (for which he is called a racist), that the movement does not focus on the real problems in the black community like bad schools and the high rate of abortion and the lack of fathers that make it so difficult for black Americans to get out of the cycles of gang-violence and poverty that afflict so many of them, particularly black young men.
He tells the truth about Islam (for which he is called Islamophobic), that in countries under Muslim-majority rule, women and gays do not enjoy the freedoms that they do in the Christian-majority countries of the West; indeed, in many such countries under sharia, women are denied what we consider in the West basic human rights, and gays are legally killed.
He tells the truth about immigration (for which he is called a white nationalist), that America and the U.K. deserve to have borders that are legally enforced so that they can choose who comes into their countries, because preserving their culture and traditions matters.
He tells the truth about being fat (for which he is called hateful), that it is not healthy, that most people do not find it as attractive or pleasurable as being thin, and that encouraging young women to become fat is only to guarantee that they will be miserable and alone.
He tells the truth about young men (for which, again, he called a misogynist, as well as a white supremacist), that they are not served well by our educational system's focus on women at the expense of the kinds of activities and discipline that would enable boys to become responsible and successful men.
He tells the truth about gays (for which he is called homophobic), that it is vindictive and mean to go after family-owned pizza restaurants simply for standing up for their religious convictions in not supporting gay marriage.
|Protestors in Seattle outside Milo's talk|
He tells the truth about feminists (for which is he called...you know by now), that those who now call themselves feminists seem more intent on bashing men than in ensuring equality of opportunity for women and men.
He tells the truth about the media (for which they will never forgive him), that they lie and lie and lie and lie all the time about conservative and libertarian values and ideals and the people who hold them.
And he tells the truth about the Left (for which he is called a fascist), that it is they who turn to violence when they do not get their own way.
He is also, of course, devastatingly handsome, to the despair of women and white men everywhere. (Don't tell me you haven't heard about his black boyfriends.)
But he is likewise a talented speaker, riveting in his ability to draw his audience into his talks. Even more important, however, he has fun as he speaks--the costumes, the stunts, the slides, the jokes--all the while making serious points that those screaming outside refuse to hear.
As Tom Ciccotta beautifully explained in his recent account of the Tour:
MILO’s provocation forced progressive students to take their conservative and libertarian peers seriously. He reminded us of the necessity of intellectual diversity in academia. He taught us to hit back hard when we were treated unfairly. He taught conservatives how to loosen up and laugh at themselves. And he gave college campuses the wake-up call that they desperately needed.I love Milo because rather than sitting wringing his hands over the lack of intellectual diversity on our college campuses, he brought the fight out into the open and exposed the lies of the Left for the lies that they are. He told the truth that the Left, along with all of my colleagues who think of themselves as progressive and liberal, has been unwilling to hear: that America is the greatest country in the history of human civilization, but that it is ours only so long as we are willing to fight.
Milo himself put it best, back in November, when he received the Annie Taylor Award for Courage in Journalism:
So let us fight, but let our motto be Risus et bellum, Laughter and war. Because nothing stings our foes, foreign and domestic, more than our hearty laughter at their lies and nonsense. And also because nothing will better remind us what we’re fighting for than the laughter of Chesterton, of Chaucer and of Shakespeare, and of course the God who inspired them all.And you wonder that I dropped everything to follow his Tour.