Yiannopoulos is counterproductive to WSU


Timonae Taylor counter-protesting the Trump wall demonstration on Oct. 19 on the Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall.

BASHEERA AGYEMAN, Evergreen columnist

Milo Yiannopoulos, a white nationalist invited by the College Republicans, will speak at Washington State University on Jan. 19. Yiannopoulos is an avid Trump supporter and is sympathetic toward dangerous alt-right ideologies.

What’s pitiful, but not shocking, is that Americans continue to give platforms to people like Donald Trump and Yiannopoulos.

This visit will be another reminder of the divide that exists on campus. Milo Yiannopoulos’ hateful rhetoric could be harmful to students who belong to marginalized groups.

In July of 2016, Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for his misogynistic and racist abuse of “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones. According to USA Today, Yiannopoulos was banned for attacking Jones and violating Twitter’s rules.

In line with the Trump rhetoric of anti-immigration, Yiannopoulos claims that Islam is the sole source of terrorism and that “Muslim immigration” in America should be checked, according to his breitbart.com articles on Islam. Yiannopoulos is the editor for Breitbart and uses this platform for his rants.

This claim is neglectful of the fact that most Muslim refugees are immigrating to run away from terrorism. In fact, according to globalresearch.org, Muslims are the number one victims of radical Islamic terrorism.

Despite identifying as a gay man himself, a few of his comments call into question his sensitivity toward sexual minorities.

In a video of his talk at University of California, Santa Barbara, Yiannopoulos explains his belief that lesbians don’t exist.

His mockery of a transgender student at the University of Milwaukee was appalling in itself without the knowledge that he himself is a member of the LGBTQ community. According to broadly.vice.com, Yiannopoulos put a picture of a trans-student on the projector and proceeded to degrade her to his audience.

His promotion of white nationalism is an extension of the ignorance of racist and xenophobic ideologies that divides our society. In an interview with BBC, Yiannopoulos explains that he is not against the integration of races but is rather seeking to preserve the cultural values that societies are founded upon.

The issue is that these same “cultural values” center on the “-isms” that we as Americans are working so hard to rid our society of.

To be clear, Milo Yiannopoulos is not the first to spew hateful rhetoric at immigrants, Muslims or underrepresented people in general.

However, his impact, like Trump’s, lies in his projection. He projects the fundamental social issues that exist in our society on the most vulnerable members.

This British journalist encourages so much unwarranted hate among Americans, and he is not even American.

Underrepresented students at WSU have faced enough this academic year. This upcoming event is another reminder of the ongoing battle against narratives that disenfranchise them.

As an African-American Muslim woman, I am saddened by the lack of sensitivity toward underrepresented students that is continuously displayed on our campus.

“We’re bringing Milo to campus because conservatives on this campus deserve to hear from a speaker who reflects their views,” said James Allsup, president of WSU’s College Republicans.

However, bringing people like this to an educational campus validates their ideologies and legitimizes their hate speech as “free speech.” It is dangerous to allow ideologies like this to become normalized.

“There are frequently leftist speakers on campus, and we think true diversity of intellect is important to the college experience,” Allsup said.

The type of damage that Yiannopoulos can cause is evident from his visit to DePaul University on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” the same tour the WSU event is on.

In the aftermath of students protesting his talk, his supporters targeted and marginalized students of color, according to an article on Think Progress. Signs like “F— Mexico” were found on campus the day of Yiannopoulos’ talk.

His rhetoric has the potential to widen the divide that evidently already exists on our campus.

What weakens us as Americans is that we fight horizontally rather than vertically. Yiannopoulos promotes that we project our collective grievances onto our fellow marginalized groups rather than fighting the people at the top who hold most of the power.

As a community of people seeking to enlighten and be enlightened, we should strive to denounce symbols and public speakers who promote ignorance and hate speech.

Editor’s note: A representative for Milo Yiannopoulos has asked that we clarify that Milo does not consider himself a white nationalist, and that he has worked to distance himself from the movement.

Basheera Agyeman is a junior comparative ethnic studies major from Accra, Ghana. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.