Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos has caused a stir on Yale University’s campus for his plan to give a lecture on cultural appropriation in full Native American garb and headdress right before Halloween.
Yiannopoulos’ plan is a response to a recent campus controversy at Yale where students took issue with a professor’s suggestion that students should be free to wear potentially-offensive Halloween costumes.
A video of Yale student Jerelyn Luther yelling at professor Nicholas Christakis about his stance on cultural appropriation went viral in November. In the video, Luther tells Christakis to “be quiet,” and reminds him that it’s “his job to create a place of comfort and home to the students,” a job which she felt he violated with an email Christakis’ wife (also a Yale professor) sent defending student’s rights to wear costumes that some might deem culturally offensive.
In response to the chaos, Yiannopoulos tweeted his plans to wear a Native American costume to his speech on Oct. 28 at Yale as part of “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.” “It appears to me [that] that the free lunacy of progressives is taking even America’s best universities, and it seems to me the best way to deal with this culture of outrage is to be outrageous,” Yiannopoulos told the Yale Daily News. “These are ridiculous people who deserve to be provoked.”
Although the event is several months away, there has already been significant student pushback to Yiannopoulos’ upcoming appearance. Yale’s Native American Cultural Center house manager, Kyle Ranieri, claims that Yiannopoulos’ use of Native American garments during his lecture would be “blatant cultural appropriation.”
Kodi Alvord, a member of Yale’s Native American Cultural Center, told the Yale Daily News that Yiannopoulos shouldn’t be allowed to come to campus. Student organizers claim that if Yiannopoulos comes to Yale, the Native American Cultural Center will host an alternative event scheduled at the same time.
“When you have Milo coming to campus saying he’s wearing a Native American costume, I want to ask him what he thinks that is, because a generic Native American costume doesn’t exist when you have these many [Native] groups,” Alvord told the Yale Daily News. “It’s insulting; people are upset; and it’s disappointing and surprising that someone who is so unqualified to debate something which should not be debated anyway can profit off their own ignorance and arrogance and spread those misconceptions.”
Although there has been some student backlash, some faculty members at Yale like Christakis have continued to stand for the freedom of expression and intellectual diversity. In 2014, the University stood by a controversial speaker’s right to speak at campus after the Muslim Student’s Association expressed concerns that the speaker might be prejudiced. Student Karl Notturno criticized Yale’s increasing population of “regressive leftists,” arguing that students are inclined to use social pressures to police what people can and can’t say.