Mission: fight totalitarianism with fun, laughter, mischief … or larrikinism as Australians call it. Or used to. Andrew L. Urban catches Milo on the phone.
Milo Yiannopoulos is seated facing the wall “so I can give you my undivided attention” as he takes my call in his house in Miami. It’s one of three places he owns with his husband, John, the house that was “roughed up a bit” by floods during hurricane Irma in September. And he is coming with a mission “to save Australia” on his Troll Academy Tour (November 30 – December 7).
“I want to save Australia from the culture wars which are ravaging America, I want to rescue it from a fate worse than death, which is all of your institutions being taken over by justice warriors from the left … feminists and progressive activists from the left, and nannies and busybodies. I want Australia to remind itself that laughter and fun and mischief are the best weapons against totalitarianism.”
Like the totalitarian instinct behind the ugly tweet by Fairfax columnist Benjamin Law in September: ‘sometimes find myself wondering if I’d hate-fuck all the anti gay MPs in Parliament if it meant they got the homophobia out of their system’. After a nano second, Milo says “I won’t pretend to be terrified by what is an example of aggressive intimidation used by the left, especially when they fear they are losing. It’s classic leftist behaviour and also massively negative, cruel and vindictive by those who are utterly persuaded by their own moral virtue.”
On same sex marriage, he warns of a downside. “Yes, of course there is … in the US we have religious freedoms protected in the constitution – that’s the paramount consideration for me. Australia doesn’t.”
His mission to save Australia is couched in positive terms. “I don’t think badly of Australia; I am coming down now because I want Australia to save itself from getting as bad as America already is. I think Australia is very sensible. I always have fun with Australians and the one time I did visit I had a great time. It doesn’t seem to me that Australia is as far gone as some other countries … but that’s why I should come now instead of in 10 years when it’s already too late.”
Now would be a good time for Australia to protect its famed sense of larrikinism, he says, against the well funded organisations all over the West which are on the march and the consequences can be devastating.
Not everyone wants Milo to save Australia, judging by the unwelcome mat put out by WA Premier Mark McGowan who said that Yiannopoulos was not welcome because his views could stir up racial tensions. He also accused Yiannopoulos of being a “defender of paedophiles”.
Penthouse publisher Damien Costas, who is organising the five-city speaking tour, has rejected claims that Yiannopoulos was a Nazi sympathiser. “Milo is a gay Jew who is married to a black man, so calling him a Nazi is a little silly.” Never assume anything about anyone – least of all Milo.
Although on the phone I couldn’t see Milo’s expression, his words seemed to suggest some eye rolling about McGowan’s remarks: “I am sure that he meant well … I mean I’ll be charitable and say he meant well because the alternative is that he’s a mendacious idiot, and I’d like to believe that Australians would not elect a mendacious idiot, so I’ll say he’s merely badly informed by a dishonest left wing press, which calls me all sorts of names.”
He is not surprised or fazed by it. “Anyone who is right of centre in public life knows it is the cost of doing business, it is the daily reality of having names hurled at you, and silly allegations and accusations. So you’re constantly on the defensive. All you ever do is conduct interviews defending yourself against charges instead of talking about the stuff you want to talk about. It’s done very much on purpose, it is a strategy. I don’t pay too much attention when people call me names; I laugh it off and get on with my life. But these things can be not only damaging but devastating for ordinary private citizens … hauled into HR departments, shamed on twitter, their entire lives can be destroyed, their relationships ruined, lose their jobs … I want to save Australia from that fate because that is the future that the UK and the US are hurling themselves into.”
But how can the 33 year old Milo Yiannopoulos save Australia from the stubborn weeds of totalitarianism when he is preaching to the converted? The answer seems obvious and goes a long way to explain the Milo Yiannopoulos phenomenon: “The way you do it is by creating public spectacle. Conservatives often speak to only conservative audiences, like Ben Shapiro, and they’ll get big applause and big crowds, but nobody’s mind is changed … nobody goes there to be persuaded. I create public spectacle by being provocative, by being attention seeking, by saying brazen things and by doing so, I get the far left and the far right agitated and mad at each other. When you create this public spectacle it draws others in; ‘what is this about? what is this guy saying, why are people so angry about him?’ And that is when you can present your most serious, most substantial argument.”
Milo’s most serious and most substantial arguments, he says, are bound together in his latest book, Dangerous, published in Australia on the eve of his tour. “It is the most serious version of me and it identifies the various threats to free speech in Western civilisation today and presents a few suggestions on how to fight through it all.”
Before we end the interview, I have to ask him why he changed his mind and got married (September 2017), when previously he had argued that gays should avoid it, because it diluted their unique position in society as being free of the mainstream. “My view evolved by falling in love,” he says simply, “but I’m still not sure … now I don’t know where I stand.”