In an article for The New Yorker, writer and professor Jelani Cobb compared Breitbart Senior Editor MILO to D.W. Griffith, the director of the Ku Klux Klan-glorifying film Birth of a Nation, before attempting to draw similarities between the racial riots against Griffith and the far-left anarchist riots against MILO.
“Last week, PBS broadcast ‘Birth of a Movement,’ a film about the battle between William Monroe Trotter, a firebrand African-American publisher born a few years after the end of the Civil War, and D. W. Griffith, the filmmaker responsible for the racist classic ‘Birth of a Nation,'” wrote Cobb. “Trotter’s contempt for the accommodationist response to Southern racism championed by, among others, Booker T. Washington culminated in his incitement of a riot when Washington attempted to give an address in Boston. The pivotal conflict of his career, however, was his attempt to prevent Griffith’s ode to the Ku Klux Klan from being shown in the city.”
“‘Birth of a Nation’ was not simply the first blockbuster in American cinematic history; its racialist propaganda inspired a rebirth of the K.K.K., which had all but died out prior to the film’s release. It was screened in the White House, reportedly to accolades from Woodrow Wilson himself,” he continued. “Trotter found himself caught between the First Amendment ideals that allowed him to publish his newspaper, the Guardian, and fighting against the distribution of Griffith’s film and, by extension, the racial terrorism that it facilitated. He chose the latter approach, appealing unsuccessfully to Boston’s political leadership to have the film banned as obscene. Griffith found the protests against his film to be a form of intolerance.”
Cobb went on to compare MILO, who was shut down from delivering a speech on immigration at UC Berkeley earlier this month, to the racial riots surrounding Birth of a Nation: “Five days before the PBS broadcast, a version of Trotter’s dilemma played out at the University of California, Berkeley, when the campus erupted in violence on the day of a planned speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor and gleefully acerbic provocateur nominally distinct from the so-called alt-right.”
He again conflates MILO with Griffith, noting:
In the aftermath of the clash with Trotter, Griffith published a pamphlet titled “The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in America,” and directed a film titled “Intolerance,” which criticized not racism but people who were intolerant of it. Yiannopoulos is of a blinkered tradition that sees no distinction worth examining between martyrdom and limitations on one’s ability to attack others. Yiannopoulos’s act is the political equivalent of an N.B.A. guard flopping in the hope of drawing a foul, a rendition of victimhood so aptly executed as to pass for the real thing.
“We are witnessing the rebirth of alchemy as a serious endeavor, an undertaking in which we transform abuse into victimhood, billionaires into besieged outsiders, and the vulnerable into vectors of mass danger,” Cobb concludes. “And it is far more dangerous than the inept rogues who showed up on Berkeley’s campus that evening.”
MILO has repeatedly condemned white nationalism and racism, declaring on-stage in January, “White pride, white nationalism, [and] white supremacy isn’t the way to go.”
“You shouldn’t give a shit about skin color, a shit about sexuality,” continued MILO. “You shouldn’t give a shit about gender, and you should be deeply suspicious of the people who do.”
MILO has also frequently been attacked by white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and websites, including the Daily Stormer, who declared a “holy crusade” against the Breitbart senior editor last year, before protesting against him at the University of Alabama.
Many white nationalists have also branded MILO a “race-mixing kike faggot,” while popular alt-right outlets, including “The Right Stuff,” have bluntly declared that “Milo isn’t one of us.”
Despite this, many news outlets and celebrities have repeatedly attempted to associate MILO with white identity politics, including CNN, The Chicago Tribune, CBS, USA Today, LA Times, Glamour Magazine, NBC News, and gay blog Peacock Panache.
Most of these media outlets have since been forced to issue corrections, retracting their baseless claims.
“Anti-fascists” and anarchists from far-left groups, who Cobb dismisses as “inept rogues” that aren’t really a threat to anyone, started several fires, smashed windows and ATMs, looted downtown stores, attacked cars, and assaulted dozens of MILO fans, male and female, who they falsely accused of being “Nazis” during the riot against MILO on February 1.
The media, politicians, celebrities, and students have all attempted to justify that violence that took place in Berkeley, with Yvette Felarca, one of the organizers of the riot, claiming MILO to be leading a “movement of genocide” and accusing him of “espousing rape.”
Following the riot, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin repeatedly smeared MILO as a “white nationalist,” and declared that he would not be welcome back in the city, while several celebrities and news outlets expressed support for the riot, including Hollywood director Judd Apatow, who deleted his tweet shortly after, and Fusion, who smeared MILO as a “Nazi,” before praising rioters.
UC Berkeley’s student newspaper also published several defenses of the violence that took place during MILO’s show last week.