The decision to rescind the invitation was prompted by the surfacing of videos -- long available on the
From the outset, many on the right who do not consider themselves part of the Cult of Milo opposed his CPAC invitation. The disturbing thing is that, absent these videos, we would have lost the fight.
Even now, Schlapp defends the initial decision to invite Yiannopoulos. On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," Schlapp insisted: "The fact is, he's got a voice that a lot of young people listen to." A lot of young conservative people, he should have added, precisely because Yiannopoulos enrages so many young liberals.
And that's part of the problem. We are in a particularly tribal moment in American politics in which "the enemy of my enemy is my ally" is the most powerful argument around.
We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.
Today, the right sees the left as enemies -- and, I should say, vice versa. Yiannopoulos is a hero for many because he fights political correctness and is transgressive. A flamboyant provocateur who wears his homosexuality on his sleeve and acts very much like a left-wing performance artist, Yiannopoulos gives the right an edgy cultural avatar to pit against the left. At a time when entertainment and celebrity matter more than facts and arguments, he is an entertaining celebrity.
Until recently, Yiannopoulos was also a self-described "fellow traveler" of the avowedly racist and anti-Semitic "alt-right." He advanced their worldview primarily from his perch as a senior editor of
Last year, alt-righters got attention for hurling bigotry at Trump-skeptical journalists on social media. For instance, my
Yiannopoulos' defense of all this is that it is funny and rebellious: "Just as the kids of the '60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock 'n' roll, so too do the alt-right's young meme brigades shock older generations" with Holocaust jokes and Klan humor. It was, he and a colleague wrote for Breitbart, "undeniably hysterical."
Well, I can deny it.
Countless conservatives defend Yiannopoulos (who admits he's not a conservative) in much the same way
These are the kinds of arguments a coalition accepts when it has lost its moral moorings and cares only about "winning." Free expression was never the issue. If it were, he'd be at CPAC (and Breitbart), perhaps restating his case for ephebophilia. Apparently, conservatives still draw the line there, but not at anti-Semitism or racism. The tent, sad to say, is big enough for that.