What Would Milo Do

I am finding it difficult to stay cheerful of late. I could blame the hot flashes, which have been wearing me down for the past several months, but it isn’t just the hot flashes.

It is the whole wretched culture war that—human nature being what it is—we are never going to win.

It is the relentless pressure in academia to conform to the prevailing narrative of victimization and oppression that would cast one group as demons (white males, especially Christians) and the other as innocent (everyone else).

It is the unwillingness on the part of establishment conservatives to credit what Milo has shown are the stakes in our fight against the death of our Western ideals.

It is the feeling of being muffled and silenced for speaking out against the mischaracterization of my own field of medieval studies as riven with white supremacism and neglect of the Other.

It is the disappointment in not being able to do more to make a difference in the way in which the argument goes.

It is enough to make you want to quit.

And then I look at Milo and what he has been through trying to get his new business off the ground.

The cancelled speeches. The loss of investors. The death threats to the venues where he was planning to speak. The ongoing ridicule in the media.

I long ago lost track of the number of times he announced a talk only for it to not happen.

All the talks for Free Speech Week, cancelled because someone convinced the administrators at Berkeley that the whole event was never meant to happen.

All but one of the talks for the Troll Academy (American Edition), even those scheduled for commercial venues, cancelled when the venues pulled out of their contracts after receiving threats of violence.

The MILO Show muffled by Facebook’s on-going efforts to shut conservatives down.

And to top it all off, the death of his newest potential investor days before closing the deal.

Seriously, wouldn’t you just quit?

Milo won’t.

He won’t even tell you about what he and his company have been through this past academic year—the year of the Troll Academy Tour that never happened.

Because that would be playing the victim, which Milo never does.

Michael Brendan Dougherty has an insightful article in National Review about the culture war, although he doesn’t call it that. He calls it a religious crisis—just as I did a year ago last February in my Sightings article about Milo and the importance of his Dangerous Faggot campus tour.

Dougherty’s argument: the reason that victim politics take on such a religious tone is because they are  ultimately not political, but religious in character.

What I said:
The violent response to Milo’s tour of our college campuses, culminating in the riot at Berkeley [in February 2017], is evidence of a deep crisis in religious thinking. If students cannot practice these difficult conversations in school, there is nothing to stop them from spilling into the streets.
What Dougherty says:
The premise of victim politics is like a mirror image of devotion to the Suffering Servant. Just as in Christianity, so in social-justice politics: The wounds of the primordial victim testify to the broken state of human nature and society at large.... Putting this Victim at the center of the social order, in ritual or in preaching, begins the redemption of all humanity. The faithful confess to the ways their sins contributed to the fate of the victim. The ritual is meant to moralize and inspire those who witness it and motive them to more fully participate in the effort of redemption. It can also provide its adherents with a demonology that fills the world with invisible oppressors and tormentors, making them oversensitive and fearful.... 
Depending on your disposition, you can take this mimicry of the Christian myth and ritual and its transmutation into politics as either a perverse compliment about the endurance of Christian thought or a kind of demonic parody. Either way, we are not here contending over something exclusively political. Once the explicitly political claims are filtered out, what is left over in victim politics is a churchly way of being in a world that has escaped the bonds of religion. We are contending with a longing for recognition and esteem and for a mission that has a transcendent horizon; no form of human governance can ever satisfy such desires.
I have spent the past year and a half writing about the way in which I see Milo participating in these patterns of Christian ritual and myth, much to the chagrin of my academic colleagues who think I am crazy for suggesting that he is in any way imitating Christ.

But this, of course, is the whole point. Given who he is—gay, of Jewish descent, in love with a black man—Milo ought to be playing the victim. And he won’t.

Because he actually believes in Christ, not just in imitating Him.

Because we are not in a war about culture. We are in a war about God.


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