By MADHURA NADARAJAH
For many people, Donald Trump is a rare combination of conservative and celebrity. There are a handful of conservative celebrities, such as Rob Lowe and Stacy Dash, but none of them possess the actual political reach and international influence that Donald Trump commands – hence his title as the President of the United States of America. Donald Trump, unbeknownst to him, might have a new protégé in the making — Milo Yiannopoulos, who also refers to Donald Trump “daddy,” as seen in article written for Breitbart News on Trump’s birthday. British bred Milo Yiannopoulos, like Donald Trump, is a celebrity (of sorts), a Twitter troll, a wealthy conservative, a provocateur, and a vivid hate speech perpetrator. These younger Trumps-in-the-making only reveal that we still have a lot of obstacles to overcome in regard to human rights, despite the progress made throughout the past years.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a 32-year-old public speaker and former editor of Breitbart News — an alternative right wing newspaper that publishes deliberately misleading stories. Like Trump, Yiannopoulos’ “political” career is supported by individuals who are fascinated and impressed by his blatant and casual assault of human rights. Yiannopoulos started his career in technological journalism. However, it was his public femur against gay rights that provided him with a platform to broadcast his extreme conservative support. In 2010, in a conversation with Boy George on a talk show Ten O’Clock Live, Yiannopoulos proclaimed that he opposed SoHo masses — these masses were led by a Roman Catholic Church in England that particularly welcomed gays, lesbians, transgendered, and bisexual individuals.
The most ironic thing about Yiannopoulos, who believes homosexual rights are damaging to society, is that he himself is openly gay. In an article he wrote in Breitbart titled “I’m Soo Bored Being Gay,” Yiannopoulos stated that he chose to be gay when he was 15 and brought back a black drug dealer to his room. According to Yiannopoulos, his homosexuality is an act of rebellion against his parents. Additionally, Yiannopoulos proclaimed that his rebellious acts are inclined to that of the slang version of coal burners. Moreover, Yiannopoulos stated that in conjunction to rebelling against his parents, he liked being gay because he liked being oppressed by the media and by social constructs. According to him, when he realized that being gay did not create the same distress it once had, he came to the senses that he was already part of an oppressed group — heterosexual white males.
Yiannopoulos’ outlandish comments do not stop here. Similar to Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos is a Twitter troll. In 2015, Buzzfeed eradicated Yiannopoulos’ verified identifier from his profile following his tweet claiming he was Buzzfeed’s “social justice editor.” In 2016, Twitter suspended Yiannopoulos’ comments when he criticized the Islamic faith following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Later that year, after the release of the film Ghostbusters, Yiannopoulos made lewd comments about the one of the film’s stars, Leslie Jones. Some of the tweets Yiannopoulos made about Jones included calling her a man and illiterate. Twitter subsequently banned Yiannopoulos from having a Twitter account. There are countless similarities between Yiannopoulos and Trump. However, while Twitter rightfully bans Yiannopoulos, it had a glitch that made 560,000 users follow Donald Trump after the 2017 inauguration, according to a statement released by Twitter.
One might assume that Yiannopoulos’ crude comments would make him a widely and intensely disliked individual. For instance, many colleges successfully held protests to ban Yiannopoulos from speaking. However, this opposition was not universally shared. The prime example is the highly respectable publishing company Simon and Schuster, who gave Yiannopoulos a $250,000 contract to get his autobiography published. Many writers were upset over the publishing house’s decision; in fact, bestselling author Roxanne Gay (who spoke at the University of Tampa on Jan. 8, 2015) pulled her book from the company stating that she did not want her name associated with an individual like Yiannopoulos. However, after a video of Yiannopoulos surfaced in which he made pedophilic comments, Simon and Schuster dissolved the deal and distanced itself from Yiannopoulos’ name.
While Yiannopoulos’ social and political upbringing is different than that of Trump’s, they still share similar political views and growing cult-like influences. Granted, Donald Trump has a far wider influential reach than Yiannopoulos, given his presidency. Still, it is scary to think that Yiannopoulos is widely popular and that a significant portion of the public listens to his hateful judgements. The scary part is not that there are individuals like Trump and Yiannopoulos who exist in 2017, but rather that colleges invite them to speak to student bodies, and that highly respectable publishing companies will provide a platform for these peoples’ unsettling social claims.