DISCLAIMER: Milo Yiannopoulos is a gay, Jewish, mostly libertarian miscegenist who needs to be purged. He should not be allowed anywhere near the leadership of the Alt-Right.
What This Is Not
This is not a political defense of Milo. Milo shares very few views with the vast majority of the Alt-Right, and does not belong among them. Everyone on the Alt-Right is absolutely correct in being terribly upset that Milo is often the person the media pretend is the leader of the Alt-Right. Milo needs to be punched from the Right, often and hard.
“Curly Headed Fuck” -Will Farrell.
That being said, he’s never claimed to be a member of the Alt-Right, has he? In fact, he’s very careful to always refer to the Alt-Right as “they” and “them.” He’s referred to as a “leader” of the Alt-Right by other journalists, but journalists are by and large idiots who hate nuance on the right. And this is not simply his journalistic impartiality. He had no qualms about saying he was a member of gamergate. So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Milo does not consider himself a member of the Alt-Right. What the hell is he doing?
The easy answer is that he’s looking for a quick cash grab. He’s latching onto something no one else will latch onto, and as such he gets the massive publicity associated with a move like that. But it’s not quite as simple as that. Milo isn’t just covering the Alt-Right, he’s covering them using positive, sometimes glowing terms.
He covers the Alt-Right the way Sally fucking Kohn talks about Black Lives Matter.
He has nothing but praise for most of the Alt-Right’s goals, and, for the most part, when he talks about the “Extremists,” he gives a sort of “they’re not really serious, boys will be boys” defense. Which is, again, exactly what Sally Kohn says about BLM. She says that the vast majority of the movement is good, and that the violent thugs are either not really part of the movement, or “venting their frustration” or some other such nonsense. There are two metapolitical strategies being employed by both Sally and Milo. Milo’s use of these strategies is why, although he’s politically wrong and bad and should be spat upon (see disclaimer), he’s a metapolitical role model for the Alt-Right, and you should all take notes.
Strategy 1: Motte and Bailey
The Motte and Bailey strategy is a bit complicated, but works REALLY well (read the link, I’m going to butcher this description). Basically you have two versions of the same argument, the motte version, and the bailey version. When you’re pushing for policy changes, or trying to get anything done, you use the lush, fertile bailey argument. The problem with the bailey argument is that it doesn’t hold up to the least bit of scrutiny. So if you encounter the least bit of scrutiny, you retreat to your motte argument. The motte argument is essentially impregnable, but useless for actually getting anything you want out of the argument.
The “classic” example is feminism. Their bailey argument is “Feminism means we need to have hiring quotas and discourage motherhood and encourage promiscuity.” When you say “Well then, feminism is awful,” they counter with their motte argument: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. Since you’re against feminism, you must not think women are people!” You see, if they started with the “women are people” argument, they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. There are absolutely no policies in The West that don’t treat women as people. None. So saying “women should be treated like people” is the same as saying “things should continue as they do now.” Feminists don’t want that. So they use their bailey argument until they’re called on its deficiencies and have to retreat to their motte.
This is what a feminist motte looks like
This is what Milo is doing with the Alt-Right. I have never seen Milo ask anyone on the Alt-Right to stop doing any of the things they’re doing. The closest he came was the “1488” section of his article, and even there he just essentially says the 1488 crowd doesn’t represent the whole movement, not that they should be purged. When Milo talks about the Alt-Right, he’ll say they’re valiant but maligned white men, doing their best to keep their culture alive. That they’re a real political force with serious and legitimate grievances, and are incredibly savvy. That’s the bailey. When another journalist points out that most on the Alt-Right post gleeful pictures of Nazi frogs gassing (((journalists))) and cry out for “RACE WAR NOW,” Milo retreats to the motte: “They’re just having fun, trying to get a rise out of you. Why do you hate fun?” There’s no counter to that argument without sounding like a fuddy-duddy, so the Alt-Right gets to keep doing what it’s doing. Milo says “They’re just trolling, no one is actually anti-Semitic,” and Kevin MacDonald posts another graph showing the ethnic makeup of Harvard graduates.
“It’s just a prank bro” -Dr. Kevin Macdonald, on the JQ
The motte and bailey is an excellent strategy that the left has absolutely mastered with BLM (Black Lives Matter vs. reparations), Islam (Religion of Peace vs. insane speech codes so as not to offend), and trans rights (What business is it of yours what others do vs. unisex bathrooms and fines for misgendering) among many others. It’s nice to see someone on the right doing it so deftly.
Now, you may worry that this marginalizes the rightward fringes of the movement, like Republicans disavowing the John Birch Society. But what Milo is doing is different than that. He is not calling out specific people or subsets of the movement, he is vaguely gesturing at a boogeyman for the media to worry about, while claiming most of the Alt-Right is an ideology of peace. How has that worked out in regards to Islam? Every time someone in the media says Muslims reject violence, it just encourages the violent Muslims to be more violent. And since Islam (and the Alt-Right) is definitionally sympathetic to the most extremist elements of the movement, that increased extremism will be embraced as well.
But why would Milo want to be supportive of those extremists on the Alt-Right? Many are far more anti-gay and anti-Semitic than anyone in the Republican party ever was, which isn’t exactly good for him.
This brings me to the second metapolitical strategy that Milo is employing: Don’t Punch Right.
Strategy 2: Don’t Punch Right
I’ve spoken on this before, so I won’t dwell on the point. Milo, again, is some kind of conservative libertarian. He advocates for his position, as seen in his gay meet-ups and other things like that. But crucially, he defends the Alt-Right because the Alt-Right is to the right of him. He understands that normalizing the Alt-Right makes his position seem much more moderate by comparison. That’s the whole point of Don’t Punch Right. You defend (or at the very least tolerate) anyone to the right of you so that the Overton Window moves to the right. Milo would not be happy in the world that many in the Alt-Right want, but he knows that it’s in the direction that he wants, so he normalizes it.
Milo is wrong politically (again, see the disclaimer). But, for the most part, he is doing the right things metapolitically. Don’t emulate Milo’s views, but many in the Alt-Right would do well to learn from his strategies. Don’t do as Milo does, do as he meta-does.
(This may also apply, to one degree or another, to many the members of the so-called “Alt-Lite”: Paul Joseph Watson, Lauren Southern, Mike Cernovich, Gavin McInnes, Pizza Party Ben, and keep moving right until you’re satisfied that the person you’re talking about is solidly in the Alt-Right. They’re entryists that need to be purged, but they often employ the correct metapolitical strategies.)