In a recent conversation with New York Times bestselling author and libertarian scholar Tom Woods, I shared some thoughts on MILO’s college tour ahead of its upcoming finale.
Over the past year, I’ve been asked dozens of times to explain my relationship with Breitbart Senior Editor MILO. One of the most common questions I was asked was whether or not I considered MILO’s provocative style particularly effective in starting a dialogue between progressive and conservative students on college campuses.
Although I felt the positive effects of MILO’s visit to my university, I initially had a hard time articulating how MILO’s firebrand style caused positive change rather than forced the campus leftists to retreat back into their safe spaces.
In January, I appeared on The Tom Woods Show, a popular podcast hosted by New York Times Bestselling Author and libertarian scholar, Dr. Thomas Woods. Woods asked me about the impact that MILO had on college campuses in 2016.
“People say ‘how could you work with MILO and also have the ‘let’s be friends with the social justice warriors’ attitude? I think you can have both attitudes and here’s why. The purpose that MILO serves is that he comes to these campuses where the small groups of social justice warriors bully people into omission and silence, and he comes in and breaks this up,” I said.
“It is incredible to me how many students I have spoken with that said ‘I wasn’t going to speak up on my college campus until MILO came and told me that it was okay. By his outrageous behavior, by his provocative performance at my university, he opened a window for conservative and libertarian students to finally say things,'” I said.
“Now, I don’t think it would be productive if every student who saw MILO decided to behave like him in all of their interactions with social justice warriors. I hope that he is a catalyst, and I think he has been in a lot of ways – he certainly was for me when I brought him to my university. I had a lot of really calm genuine one-on-one’s with people because of the window he opened for discussion. And I don’t think that window would have been opened if he wasn’t so provocative,” I added.
In the fight against intolerance and discrimination, many campus leftists have become the monster they’re sought to defeat. By passing collective judgments on conservative and libertarians based on past experiences with individuals with similar political affiliations, they’ve effectively participated in the type of discrimination that they consistently rail against.
He taught conservative and libertarian students how to respond to slander, not only by hitting back hard against those who lied about us but by articulating clearly our disdain for discrimination of any kind.
On a college campus, conservative and libertarian students can’t argue against the passage of a $15 minimum wage law without being considered cold and unfeeling. Despite the volumes of economic research that makes the reasonable case that a $15 minimum wage would actually hurt low-skilled workers by pricing them out of the labor market, it’s the unflinching arrogance of campus leftists that allows them to skip the debate on the issue and go right to labeling their detractors as selfish and cold-hearted cynics who would rather people die in the streets than force employers to put a few extra dollars in their employee’s pockets. It’s this toxicity in academia that created MILO.
My time as a student activist is coming to a close. Above all else, I’ve learned in these four years that the American political landscape is in desperate need of individuals who have the capacity to remind us of our common humanity, regardless of political persuasion.
MILO’s provocation forced progressive students to take their conservative and libertarian peers seriously. He reminded us of the necessity of intellectual diversity in academia. He taught us to hit back hard when we were treated unfairly. He taught conservatives to how to loosen up and laugh at themselves. And he gave college campuses the wake-up call that they desperately needed.
This is something for which we all, regardless of political persuasion, should be grateful.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about social justice and libertarian issues for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org