Milo Yiannopoulos Isn't the Only Bigot Republicans Are Cozy With
It’s odd to watch conservatives distance themselves from the writer Milo Yiannopoulos because he condoned child sex abuse. After all, they just elected a president who has a history of making inappropriate sexual comments about children – including his own daughter – and was accused of walking into the dressing rooms of changing teenagers.
So excuse me if I don’t buy the outrage.
For those of us who have been writing about feminism online for a long time, Yiannapoulos is old news. We’ve long warned about his noxious harassment, his incitements and the danger he poses to marginalized communities. Yet again, feminists are the canaries in the coal mine. (Or, as my friend Kate Harding put it to me recently, “canaries in the troll mine”.)
The truth, though, is that this is an issue not so much about one hateful writer, but about conservatives’ tolerance and support of hateful ideology more generally. There’s been an inarguable rise of white nationalist misogynists in the public sphere, a phenomenon the leader of our country does little to distance himself from. But being unapologetically vile comes naturally to Trump.
The current president of the United States has looked at a 10-year-old girl and remarked that he’d be dating her in a few years, admitted on a radio show that he was attracted to Paris Hilton when she was 12 years old and was accused by multiple people of walking in on minors as young as 15 years old changing in the Miss Teen USA dressing room.
Let’s not even get into his long recorded history of saying disgusting things about his own daughter – comments that started when she was a teenager. If conservatives cared about the sexual abuse of children, they never would have elected someone who objectifies them with abandon.
The only thing this latest controversy proves is that supporting Yiannopoulos was never about “free speech”. Those who canceled his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and pulled his book because they found what he said about children abhorrent are essentially conceding that everything he said previously was tolerable. That the racism, misogyny, xenophobia were just fine. That they could live with Yiannapoulos outing trans students – putting them at risk of violence – and emboldening online mobs to attack women and people of color.
And make no mistake, the conservative posturing on child sex abuse falls especially flat considering their tolerance for racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric: children of color and kids from marginalized communities are far more likely to be abused because predators target those who are unprotected. Their policies make certain children much more vulnerable to abuse, so I’m quite over hearing how much they care about kids.
Conservatives show us who they are every day – they dehumanize vast swaths of people, disempower the most marginalized, and tolerate discrimination and bile from their own politicians and president. Disinviting one person from one conference, or pulling one book, doesn’t change any of that.
Someone else horrible will be there to take Yiannopoulos’s place on Wednesday - you can be sure of it. And if our current political situation is any indicator, conservatives will do everything they can to prop that person up. Or elect them president.