‘Alt-Right’ Leader Slated to Speak at NYU

The conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos will speak on issues like cultural appropriation in a class taught by “deplorable” professor Michael Rectenwald.

Sarah Jackson
Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak at a class taught by self-proclaimed “deplorable” NYU professor Michael Rectenwald on Wednesday. (Image via flickr.com; illustration by Katie Peurrung)

Milo Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak at a class taught by self-proclaimed “deplorable” NYU professor Michael Rectenwald on Wednesday. 

A former senior editor at Breitbart News, Yiannopoulos is known for calling for deportations of Muslims from Western countries, condoning pedophilia and commenting that vigilante squads should shoot journalists, among other incendiary remarks. 

A copy of Yiannopoulos’s speech for Wednesday obtained by WSN shows the pundit’s derision of identity politics and people who accuse certain Halloween costume wearers of cultural appropriation. The speech also includes claims that Halloween has become boring and heavily policed, and that liberals use their bodies as costumes and are not living in the real world. It ends by encouraging people to wear offensive costumes on Halloween.

This isn’t the first time Yiannopoulos has been asked to speak at NYU. In 2016, NYU College Republicans invited Yiannopoulos to speak, although his scheduled appearance was canceled by NYU due to safety concerns.

Rectenwald, a Liberal Studies clinical professor, is a frequent critic of political correctness and social justice. He recently lost a defamation lawsuit he made against the university and four professors for remarks made in a department-wide email exchange. 

Rectenwald said he does not necessarily support Yiannopoulos’s views, emphasizing that he will be welcoming a socialist speaker to his class later in the semester. 

“This appearance does not represent an endorsement of his views,” Rectenwald said. “It is just to get some perspective, some diversity of perspective in the classroom.” 

Still, he said Yiannopoulos is better than he has been portrayed in the media. 

“He’s a genius,” Rectenwald said. “Once you hear him speak, you’ll see that he’s a genius.” 

Liberal Studies Dean Julie Mostov sent an email Monday evening to students in the school, stating that she only heard about Yiannopoulos’ appearance on Sunday morning when the New York Post broke the news and calling this “a teachable moment.”

“As long as we can ensure that the classroom visit of Mr. Yiannopoulos unfolds with everyone’s safety in mind — under the direction of NYU’s Vice President for Public Safety – the class visit will go on,” Mostov wrote. “Rest assured that the students in this class will be informed about the visit and that only students registered for the class will be able to attend.”

Richard Baum, Chief of Staff to President Andrew Hamilton, also issued a statement on Monday regarding Yiannopoulos’s scheduled appearance.

“Our Public Safety Department has evaluated the circumstances of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ appearance and believes the class can proceed safely,” he wrote.

University spokesperson John Beckman added to the statement as well.

“Mr. Yiannopoulous [sic] has espoused many ideas that are at odds with the values of the NYU community and are offensive to its members,” he wrote. “But as an invited speaker, he will be allowed to address Professor Rectenwald’s class because even in the face of controversy and profound disagreement, adherence to the principles of academic freedom is a core value.”

Rectenwald told WSN on Monday that he had been contacted by Public Safety regarding the appearance.

University spokesperson John Beckman said the university was troubled by the lack of notice for Yiannopoulos’s appearance. 

“The university only learned in the last few hours from press accounts about the possible presence in a classroom on Wednesday of Mr. Yiannopoulis [sic],” Beckman said in an email to WSN on Sunday. “Given the record of disruption that has accompanied Milo Yiannopoulis’ [sic] appearances on campuses, it is a source of concern to us that a faculty member would issue such an invitation without taking such rudimentary, common-sense steps as reaching out to our Dept of Public Safety to ensure his students’ — and other community members’ — safety.” 

Yiannopoulos’s appearance is already raising objections. 

The Graduate Student Organizing Committee at NYU spoke out against it on Twitter on Sunday.

“Milo and his fascist, white supremacist speech — which has often included calls to violence — are dangerous for many of our students,” the tweet reads. “For educational workers, this is what a workplace safety struggle looks like. He has no place in any classroom.” 

Student Senators Council senator-at-large Rose Asaf also contested Yiannopoulos’s pending speech on Twitter. 

“…[A] white nationalist/pedophile is coming to class — a few days after another white nationalist murdered 11 Jewish people,” she wrote. 

UPDATE Oct. 29: This article was updated to include statements from Liberal Studies Dean Julie Mostov and Richard Baum, Chief of Staff to President Andrew Hamilton, and an updated statement from John Beckman.

CORRECTION Oct. 29: Rectenwald confirmed to WSN on Monday evening that, despite his previous claim to have discussed the appearance with Mostov earlier in the week, he did not present it to her until Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 29 edition. Email Sarah Jackson at [email protected]

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This is an outrage. Just one of many horrible results of this showboating is that students will be on the livestream on YouTube for the rest of their lives,with no ability to make their identity as members of Milo’s “audience” ever disappear. What happens when they go on the job market or apply to graduate school and this pops up? Sitting and being forced to listen to a neo-Nazi ? Days after the worst ant-Semitic attack in American history? As a GLS faculty member, I am appalled.

  2. “alt-right,” “white-nationalist,” “white supremacist,” and “fascist:” describing a ethnically jewish gay libertarian comedian with a black boyfriend. You can disagree with his views (I certainly do on many things), you can even consider them morally abhorrent and deserving of censorship or even violence (while I wouldn’t endorse that, you apparently can!), but At Least describe him and his views in accurate and precise terms. At this stage “alt-right…etc.” have no correlation with any set of political views, methods, or principles, and are effectively meaningless dogwhistles to signal so-called liberals to attack someone.

  3. Imagine not going through any proper University channels for this. Imagine doing this without telling your students first. Then live-streaming it so students are forever on social media as Milo Yiannopoulos’s “audience.” They can never get rid of that— not when they go on the job market, not when they apply to graduate school. Thenimagine doing this now. At this moment in history. As a Global LIberal Studies faculty, I am appalled.

    • I am appalled that a Global Liberal Studies faculty member doesn’t get his/her facts straight, prior to making judgments and posting comments. Michael Rectenwald went through proper channels: He’s not obligated to seek permission from LS regarding whom he wants to bring as a guest speaker to class. No students were to be recorded as audience members — unless they gave explicit permission, IN WRITING. Also, any students who didn’t wish to attend were to be offered FULL ATTENDANCE CREDIT, lest any students be triggered by Milo Yiannopoulos – a gay man, married to an African American. In other words, Milo is definitely *not* ‘alt-right.’ Ergo, the headline of this article is the very definition of ‘fake news.’

  4. So Milo is “Alt-Right”? Milo, who is married to a black husband. Are YOU married to a black person? And if not, then who are you to judge Milo?

    • Are you serious? You keep repeating “married to a black person” as though it’s an accomplishment on par with curing cancer or creating peace in the Middle East. The man he has sex with has nothing to do with his views on politics, abortion, hating islam etc…it’s about as relevant as the color socks he likes to wear.

      If anything, being married to a Black man makes him even more tone-deaf. Bet if someone called his husband (whose identity he hides because can’t take the heat) a racial slur or used a homophobic slur Milo would be triggered. But meanwhile he makes ignorant comments about everyone else. All while expecting to be coddled for being gay of course. Hypocrite.

      Feel sorry for the NYU students paying $70k/yr (sorry, your parents that is) to listen to some shock-jock loser and pass it off as an ‘education’.

  5. Milo is a genius who played a key role in getting Trump elected. At the same time, he occasionally says really bizarre things that don’t make any sense. But at least he has a lot of insightful ideas. He is also quite talented as a comedic performance artist. And he’s gay. So that’s diversity!

    What do you have to lose? Either you can listen to Milo or you can snore through polite Dave Rubun, who has never voiced an original opinion in his life. I pick Milo because I want to hear new ideas.

  6. This is not about anyone being married to a “black husband” . It is about a person invited to NYU who equates the following of Islam with AIDS and who also is massively—and in a horribly problematic way—anti-immigration. We are also talking about a defender of child rape. I mean, this is not a difficult thing to document,as a simple Google search reveals all of these realities. Milo lost his job, his book contract, and his reputation for being a horrible public figure. Now, he is desperate to regain some fame. It is shocking to me that this person is seen as an expert or intellectual in any field at all, and that any serious intellectual would invite him to speak.

  7. Elayne Tobin’s point about live stream issues lame. Worse, her repeated use of the words “outrage and appalled” reveal her victomhood based, selfish virtue-signallng, childlike snowflake-esque, failed attempt to garner and muster support and attention from authorities and media. Fortunately, the powers that be receive and respond the same as Queen Victoria so eloquently did, “WE ARE NOT AMUSED! OFF WITH HER HEAD!”

  8. As an NYU GLS alum, former student of this professor, and anti-fascist, anti-white supremacist this feels especially close to home at a time when little seems shocking anymore. Standing strongly in solidarity with the protesters and all organizing against this. Students, you have the power. Organize!

    • Ah, the “free speech” folk expose themselves. I use “outrage” once, and “appalled” once. And threatening to cut my head off is a bit hysterical, mot to mention sexist and violently weird.

      “Elayne Tobin’s point about live stream issues lame. Worse, her repeated use of the words “outrage and appalled” reveal her victomhood based, selfish virtue-signallng, childlike snowflake-esque, failed attempt to garner and muster support and attention from authorities and media. Fortunately, the powers that be receive and respond the same as Queen Victoria so eloquently did, “WE ARE NOT AMUSED! OFF WITH HER HEAD!””

  9. This comment is only for those out there who are 45 years old or older…. Now, think back to when we were kids and were trick or Treating (up to the age of 15 or 16 if we wanted to). Just think about ALL of the costumes we wore and we saw during Halloween. White people with “black faces” trying to imitate their favorite celebrity. Costumes of, Mexican, African, Asian, Russian, etc… cultures. Costumes of Nazi’s and Hitler, foreign leaders, historical figures that we learned about in school. It did NOT matter what color your real skin was. We ALWAYS had the proper makeup to change to what ever resembled who we wanted to be… RIGHT?!

    NOW! Think back to ALL OF THE TIMES, you were ridiculed, shamed, yelled at, called RACIST, or your costume caused a riot or a protest? Think back to when you weren’t allowed to wear your “whatever” Halloween Costume to school because they forbid it?…. Go ahead! Take your time!

    NEVER!! Why? Because we didn’t have self loathing, self righteous, safe space living pansies back then! We were children who were ALLOWED to be children! We ALL had what was called….. A BACKBONE! We weren’t spineless! We didn’t cry about something that offended us! Because we were capable of going through life as normal human beings….

    And now back to the present time….. YEP! It’s ALL GONE!! It’s now the Pansy Generation…. Where everybody is spineless, humorless, and can’t get through a single day without crying about someone or something stepping into their, “safe spaces.”

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