Milo Yiannopoulos — who is one of only three individuals permanently banned from Twitter, sharing that prize with a random alt-right troll and rapper Azealia Banks — is coming to NYU. The somewhat controversial technology editor of Breitbart, a conservative blog, will be hosting an event with the help of the NYU College Republicans on Nov. 17. The appearance is part of a tour of college campuses, which has such an obscene title that we prefer not to repeat it here.
Some students have expressed reservations about Yiannopoulos’ presence at NYU, since he has a long history of viciously attacking women, minorities, Muslims and essentially anyone else who is not a white Christian male that spends an unfortunate amount of time on the internet. During the 2012 Gamergate controversy, he gained some notoriety for fanning the flames of hate and vitriol against women, specifically female video game journalists. He regularly attacks feminists, Black Lives Matter activists and other progressive voices. Most recently, he got another 15 minutes of undeserved attention by attacking comedian and actress Leslie Jones on Twitter. Yiannopoulos’ views obviously do not align with those of NYU, a school that prides itself on its diverse community and welcoming atmosphere.
Controversial guests invited by NYU have been dropped before — like when NYU Langone disinvited scientist James Watson earlier this semester — but these incidents are not comparable. Yiannopoulous’ appearance is hosted by a student group, not the university. While it’s questionable that Yiannopoulos will be able to contribute anything remotely refreshing or new to political discourse, his irrelevance and general lack of original commentary does not necessarily mean he does not have a right to be here. In the interest of free speech on campus, the College Republicans should be allowed to host Yiannopoulos. Whether someone wants to take him seriously as a political voice or dismiss him as a clownish caricature should be up to that individual.
This recent tour has been met with protests on college campuses, a trend which will surely continue as Yiannopoulos swings up to universities in the Northeast. While protesters have every right to express disapproval with the event, engaging in direct confrontation is exactly what Yiannopoulos wants. To any potential student activists, we urge you to be aware of your actions and how they may be twisted in a Breitbart headline. To Milo Yiannopoulos, even if you receive a warm reception from a small enclave at NYU, recognize that it is by no means indicative of the overall opinion of NYU’s administration or student body. After all, it would be impossible to match the popularity of an NYU event last year that filled an auditorium twice as large to capacity. The featured celebrity? Leslie Jones.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 11th print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]