Workers Vanguard No. 1106
24 February 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
A View From The Left- Milo Yiannopoulos: Right-Wing Provocateur Targets Campuses
Milo Yiannopoulos: Right-Wing Provocateur Targets Campuses
Milo Yiannopoulos revels in being an in-your-face pig. A leading voice of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim reaction, he has smeared Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization,” condemned transgender people as “mentally ill,” launched a mob of racist Twitter trolls against black Saturday Night Live comic Leslie Jones, celebrated the sexual harassment of women as something they enjoy and described abortion as “one of the great horrors of civilization.” Most recently, in what he calls his “Dangerous F----t” tour, Yiannopoulos has been on a nationwide campaign on campuses inciting bigotry and spewing provocations against anyone he considers an affront to “Western culture.”
Described as “a crusader in a righteous cause, opposing the cultural tyranny of the Left,” Yiannopoulos and the Republican frat rats sponsoring him aim to intensify an atmosphere of intimidation and ideological conformity on campus. Parading in flamboyant attire, the openly gay Yiannopoulos is promoted as the “hip” face of the “alt-right,” which includes forces ranging from racist ideologues to outright fascists. His powerful connections lead straight into the White House, particularly with Trump’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, the former boss of Breitbart News and poison pen of “white nationalism.” Not surprisingly, his appearances attract bona fide fascists.
Now, many of his allies are railing against Yiannopoulos for speaking positively about consensual gay relationships between teenagers and older men, about the only unobjectionable thing he has said. The Conservative Political Action Conference has rescinded his speaking engagement, and he has resigned as a senior editor of Breitbart News. As Marxists, we oppose “age of consent” laws, which give the capitalist state the authority to determine at what age youth can engage in sex—the only guiding principle should be mutual effective consent. It is a measure of what a hot button intergenerational sex is for the forces of reaction that some of them have pulled the plug on Yiannopoulos, who otherwise has served as an asset in promoting their racist agenda and bashing protesters on campuses around the country.
Outside Yiannopoulos’s event at the University of Washington on January 20, an anti-racist protester was shot in the stomach by a Trump supporter and critically wounded. The cops let the shooter walk free, claiming he had fired in self-defense. A week earlier, Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to speak at UC Davis together with his “Pharma Bro,” Martin Shkreli. A former pharmaceutical company CEO, Shkreli is infamous for hiking the price of an essential drug for AIDS and cancer patients from $13 to $750. The Davis event was called off by the campus Republicans, who claimed protesters were endangering the lives of the cops who were mobilized to defend the event.
On February 1, Yiannopoulos was scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley to kick off a campaign against “illegal” immigrant students by demanding the withdrawal of federal funds from “sanctuary campuses” and the prosecution of university officials. His partner in this witchhunt is David Horowitz’s “Freedom Center.” A racist ideologue and rabid Zionist, Horowitz has a long track record of provocation—from calling to purge leftist and liberal professors, to grotesque smear campaigns against pro-Palestinian students.
More than 2,000 people came out to protest Yiannopoulos at Cal, and in the end his event was shut down by Black Bloc demonstrators. Yiannopoulos should be protested, exposed and refuted as part of defending the ever-dwindling free speech rights of all those targeted by this provocateur and his band of campus witchhunters. But those who shut down the meeting, amid bonfires and shattered glass, fell right into Yiannopoulos’s trap, handing him the flag of “freedom of speech” to wave like a bloody shirt.
Portraying himself as the victim of “totalitarian” liberals and leftists, Yiannopoulos whined that “the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.” On Twitter, Trump threatened, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view—NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” The media railed against anarchist Black Bloc “violence,” a chorus joined by none other than the International Socialist Organization (not a first). Opining that “this small group of adventurists was doing about as much to provoke the police to attack as I’ve ever seen,” a member writing for Socialist Worker online (8 February) praised the cops for showing “remarkable restraint”!
In fact, the cops originally fired pepper balls and rubber bullets at the protesters. Now they are working with the FBI in a witchhunting investigation into the protest. Thus, far from a victory against the forces of reaction and repression, the result of shutting down this creep was to strengthen them. However dim and misguided the anarchists’ actions were, we nonetheless call to defend the Black Bloc and other anti-Yiannopoulos protesters who get snared in the FBI and cops’ manhunt.
Free Speech, Racist Ideologues and Fascist Terror
In the weeks leading up to the Cal protest, a letter from faculty members appealed to UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks to cancel Yiannopoulos’s event, arguing that it would “violate the codes of conduct that operate to keep the campus a harassment-free space.” Anyone who has set foot on American campuses in the past few decades knows they are far from “harassment-free” oases—much less havens of radical liberalism, not to say Marxism. With the shredding of affirmative action programs and skyrocketing tuition fees driving out black, Latino, working-class and poor students, colleges and universities are increasingly becoming “free spaces” for right-wing and retrograde elements who think they can act with impunity.
Liberals and putative leftists appeal to campus administrations to enforce restrictive “speech codes” and “sensitivity training” as the means to supposedly combat racism, sexism and anti-gay bigotry. Slogans like “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech,” which was chanted at the Cal protest, amount to pleading with the capitalist rulers and their campus representatives to regulate what people can say. In fact, Zionist forces have repeatedly wielded claims of “hate speech” to try to shut down student organizations defending the Palestinian people by grotesquely equating criticism of Israel with “anti-Semitism.” Policing speech serves to strengthen the forces of repression, like the cops in riot gear at the Cal Yiannopoulos protest, which can and will be used against leftists, blacks and immigrants. Calls to restrict speech also help pave the way for the likes of Yiannopoulos and Horowitz to posture as defenders of “freedom of speech.”
Groups like the Revolutionary Communist Party as well as the anarchists argue that Trump, Yiannopoulos and Horowitz are fascists. This characterization only serves to disarm people in the face of the genuine Nazis and other race-terrorists who have been emboldened by Trump’s victory. Fascism is not a question of speech. Fascists are paramilitary action gangs whose purpose is the obliteration of the workers movement and racial genocide. And in America, that means they have black people in their sights. Homegrown American fascism, the KKK, was born out of the bloody reaction in the South following the defeat of the slavocracy in the Civil War. No less than the Klan, the fascist vermin crawling in the “alt-right” today represent a threat to the very right of black people to exist. The fascists must be crushed in the egg by mobilizing the power of the multiracial working class to smash them in an elementary defense of itself and all the oppressed.
Yiannopoulos, Horowitz and their ilk are not fascists. They are reactionary provocateurs and ideologues. The filth that they spew is fed by the reality of capitalist class rule in America, which is rooted in the vicious racial oppression of black people, as well as anti-immigrant racism and sexist bigotry. Contrary to the “fight the right” protests against Trump, which look to the Democrats to save the day, the Democrats are as much the defenders of this capitalist order as are the Republicans.
Anyone who wants to see the real face of fascism should look no farther than the murderous assault on anti-fascist protesters in Sacramento last June by the white supremacists of the Traditionalist Workers Party and the Golden Gate Skinheads. Dressed in swastika T-shirts and giving “Seig Heil” salutes, these race-terrorists came armed to carry out, in their words, a “fight to the death.” Eight anti-fascist protesters were viciously stabbed and slashed, with several hospitalized. Having faced knife-wielding Klansmen in Anaheim, California, a few months earlier, Progressive Labor Party reported that its members came armed with long poles to fend off and beat the fascists in Sacramento. That was smart. However, the end result of the demonstration overall was unfortunately not a victory. In the aftermath, the white-supremacist stormtroopers gloated that they had prevailed in grievously bloodying several protesters.
Expressing solidarity with these Nazis was suit-and-tie fascist führer Richard Spencer, head of the innocuous-sounding National Policy Institute, whose avowed aim is the creation of a white “ethno-state” in North America. At a meeting to celebrate Trump’s election at the Ronald Reagan building in D.C. in November, Spencer and his followers were videoed giving a Nazi salute as he declared: “Hail Trump! Hail Our People! Hail Victory!” This was followed by the Nazis of the Daily Stormer website threatening to march through the streets of the small town of Whitefish, Montana, on Martin Luther King Day armed with “high-powered rifles.” Enraged by a town proclamation denouncing Spencer, who lives part time in Whitefish, the Nazis particularly targeted Jewish residents.
Among those in the Daily Stormer’s sights is none other than Milo Yiannopoulos, whom they describe as the “single greatest threat our movement has at this time.” Complaining that Yiannopoulos is “taking our brand, our symbols, and turning them against us for a neocon-Jew conservative agenda,” they threatened: “Real Nazis are going to show up at every show and confront him.” These fascist stormtroopers know the difference between their program of racist murder and a reactionary creep who grooves on racist provocations. And anyone who wants to stop the genuinely fascist vermin that are crawling out from between the toes of the Trump administration had better know it too.
The race-terrorists must be smashed through the mobilization of the social power of the working class standing at the head of all the opponents and intended victims of the fascists. We are proud of our record of initiating and carrying out successful united-front, multiracial mobilizations, based on the power of the trade unions, which stopped cold the Klan and Nazis in cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
As for the likes of Yiannopoulos, our aim as communists is not to ban his meetings or shut them down, but to protest and expose his reactionary ideology. In the early 2000s, when David Horowitz launched his McCarthyite “Freedom Tour” promoting the despicable lie that black people benefited from slavery, the Spartacus Youth Clubs initiated united-front protests exposing this racist ideologue from UCLA to UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago.
Black oppression is the bedrock of American capitalism and anti-black racism is the touchstone for all manner of social reaction. Our protests against Horowitz sought to win a new generation of youth to an understanding that the fight for black freedom in this country is central to the liberation of the working class and all the oppressed from the bondage of capitalist class rule.
We seek to forge a revolutionary workers party that acts as the tribune of the people, fighting every manifestation of the tyranny and oppression of this decaying capitalist order. It is by joining the fight to build such a party that radical students, young workers and others will find their place in the struggle for genuine equality and human freedom in a socialist America.