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Alt-right provocateur makes sparks fly at WCU


Milo Yiannopoulos. Photo courtesy of Cory Vaillancourt

Special to The Tribune

By John North- CULLOWHEE — Security was tight as Breitbart News Senior Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a self-proclaimed cultural libertarian, free speech fundamentalist and one of the top online leaders and provocateurs of the alt-right movement, spoke to a room packed with more than 175 students and others Oct. 12 at Western Carolina University’s A.K. Hinds University Center.

In a rapid-fire 45-minute address titled “Feminism and Islam: The Unholy Alliance,” Yiannopoulos, who is British, presented his case for how Islam and feminism have come together to form a strange, unholy alliance in the current year. He called Islam a “kill-joy religion,” adding that feminism and Islam constitute the two biggest threats to America today — and share a number of similarities, including in what he termed a quest to stifle free speech.

His comments and analysis — and his nonstop mocking of political correctness — triggered frequent cheers and applause from the overwhelmingly supportive college-age audience. Following his address, Yiannopoulos spent about 30 minutes fielding questions from the audience members, including only a few who challenged him and his views. After the speech and Q&A session, a smiling Yiannopoulos stayed to pose for selfie photos with every person in a long line of admirers.

During his speech, Yiannopoulos also spoke strongly against the Black Lives Matters movement in particular, and liberals in general.

What’s more, Yiannopoulos, who is gay and a practicing Roman Catholic, confirmed that he is an ardent supporter of Republican nominee Donald J. Trump’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

The prominent police presence and high-level security included approximately 12 officers, a bomb-sniffing dog and a wand to detect weapons on those seeking entry to Yiannopoulos’ talk. A police officer at the event said the heavy presence of security was for “potential threat of protests” by students against Yiannopoulos coming to campus, according to The Western Carolina Journalist, an online newspaper run byWCU’s Communication Department.

Meanwhile, “Answer Woman” columnist Casey Blake fielded a question from a WCU student in the Oct. 7 edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times, headlined, “Hate speaker at WCU?” questioning the lack of cover “or public outrage” over the then-forthcoming appearance of “a neo-Nazi, misogynist hate-monger… obviously with the blessing of this public university.”

Blake confirmed through WCU spokesman Bill Studenc that Yiannopoulos would be speaking at the university, but not exactly with the school’s “blessing.” Studenc emphasized that WCU neither would be funding the speaker’s fees, nor “sponsoring” the event, but that it, indeed, would be held on campus with the university’s permission. Despite an outcry from some faculty, staff and students, Studenc told Blake that, “As an institution of higher learning that values free speech, WCU would not take action to prevent a speaker from expressing his or her views. The university does not screen the content of speakers or performers who appear on the campus.”


Blake also wrote that “Yiannopoulos is perhaps best-known for headlines he made earlier this year when Twitter suspended his account after actress Leslie Jones claimed she was inundated with a barrage of racist images from thousands of users spurred by him.” While Twitter spokesmen told the Associated Press that Yiannopoulos led the trolling campaign. “He has stood behind the harassment, referring to himself as a ‘virtuous troll’ and saying he was doing’ ‘God’s work’ through his hate speech.”

In lambasting Yiannopoulos, Blake asserted, “Among his other virtues, Yiannopoulos refers to feminism as ‘a cancer,’ support the alt-right’s various iterations of white nationalism and anti-Semitism, is fervently anti-Muslim and has sponsored a scholarship only for white men, and you get the picture….”

His visit, sponsored by the WCU College Republicans, was part of “The Dangerous Faggot Tour,” a nationwide tour of college campuses in which Yiannopoulos is challenging political correctness in society today. His WCU visit was his 10th visit in the second leg of his nationwide tour. As with his previous shows, it was — officially — sold out via online preregistration, although there were a few vacant seats. His tour is scheduled to reach 26 college campuses this fall.

“My goal is to ignite a free speech revolution across college campuses because I think free speech is being extinguished by the progressive left, by feminism and by Black Lives Matter,” he said regarding the purpose of his tour, adding, “It’s working.”

However, Yiannopoulos’ speech planned Nov. 17 at New York University, was canceled Oct. 15 by the university, which cited safety concerns in the wake of violent incidents elsewhere sparked by his controversial viewpoints. The NYU College Republicans are planning to speak to the NYU administration about the possibility of having Yiannopoulos speak on campus. He is scheduled to speak at 14 other high education institutions across the nation between Oct. 16 and his now-canceled visit to NYU.

WCU College Republicans President Benjamin Snedegar introduced Yiannopoulos, noting that “one of the best things about WCU is that the students are very respectful.” He added, “I think it was important to bring him here for students to understand that you don’t have to agree with somebody to tolerate them expressing their opinions.”

Snedegar later in the evening told The Tribune that there had been no organized protests at WCU against Yiannopoulos’ speech, although “some members of the campus community have expressed upset.” Indeed, the College Republicans chief said the high police presence was the byproduct of a credible bomb threat at Florida State University that was investigated by the FBI — and resulted in Yiannopoulos’s performance at FSU.

Snedegars introduced Yiannopoulos as “a cultural libertarian,” a “free-speech activist,” an “anti-liberal” and an “anti-feminist,” after which a video was shown to the audience on a large screen, showing him in action as a provocateur and dealing politely and successfully with angry questioners.

As the short video ended, the youthful-appearing, handsome Yiannopoulos bounded onto the stage, appearing dapper in a tailored dark-green suit coat, stylish blue jeans, a T-shirt — and sunglasses. He smiled and looked confident and energized, as the audience stood and cheered.

Yiannopoulos spoke quickly, displaying quick wit and citing statistics to back his assertions, and — occasionally — stammering a bit like actor Hugh Grant, with the iconic accent of a London native.

Among his most memorable zingers were:

• “Feminism is cancer.”

• “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.”

• “In what universe does fat shaming not work?”

Yiannopoulos speaking schedule:

WED Oct 19, 2016 Davidson, NC Davidson College

FRI Oct 21, 2016 Washington, D.C. George Washington University

SAT Oct 22, 2016 New Haven, CT Yale University

MON Oct 24, 2016 Newark, DE University of Delaware

TUE Oct 25, 2016 Fairfax, VA George Mason University

WED Oct 26, 2016 College Park, MD University of Maryland

FRI Oct 28, 2016 Orange County, CA The Adam Carolla Show

SUN Oct 30, 2016 Irvine, CA UC Irvine

TUE Nov 01, 2016 Hanover, NH Dartmouth College

WED Nov 02, 2016 Morgantown, WV West Virginia University

FRI Nov 04, 2016 Columbus, OH The Ohio State University

THU Nov 10, 2016 Palm Beach, FL David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend

WED Nov 16, 2016 New York, NY Columbia University

THU Nov 17, 2016 New York, NY New York University

SUN Nov 20, 2016 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Rebel Cruise

WED Nov 30, 2016 State College, PA Penn State University

FRI Dec 02, 2016 Athens, OH Ohio University

TUE Dec 06, 2016 Cleveland, OH Cleveland State University

WED Dec 07, 2016 East Lansing, MI Michigan State University

FRI Dec 09, 2016 Ames, IA Iowa State University

TUE Dec 13, 2016 Milwaukee, WI UW-Milwaukee

THU Dec 15, 2016 Mankato, MN Minnesota State University

FRI Dec 16, 2016 Fargo, ND North Dakota State University

TUE Jan 10, 2017 Stanford, CA Stanford University

FRI Jan 13, 2017 Davis, CA UC Davis

WED Jan 18, 2017 Portland, OR Portland State University

THU Jan 19, 2017 Pullman, WA Washington State University

FRI Jan 20, 2017 Seattle, WA University of Washington

WED Jan 25, 2017 Boulder, CO University of Colorado Boulder

THU Jan 26, 2017 Colorado Springs, CO University of Colorado Colorado Springs

MON Jan 30, 2017 Santa Barbara, CA UC Santa Barbara

TUE Jan 31, 2017 San Luis Obispo, CA California Polytechnic State University

WED Feb 01, 2017 Berkeley, CA University of California, Berkeley

THU Feb 02, 2017 Los Angeles, CA UCLA

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