Hosting Milo: The Inside Account
Deborah Porter, Foreign Policy Contributor
Update: Despite the protestors chanting "No Milo, no KKK, no fascist USA," the executive board quickly organized a march late last night to protest the cancellation of our Milo talk. After announcing only 12 hours before it started, the protesters were unable to bring their outside, violent counterparts to the Quad. The march instead successfully made a sweep through campus, passing through one of the residence hall areas, the SciLec, and Mrak Hall. At SciLec, the location of the cancelled event, students started chanting "Let him in," as administrators watched to observe the peaceful protest. Upon the return to the Quad, Milo reenacted the famous "pepper spray" incident with College Republicans acting as the Occupy Movement protesters. After selfies and signing the DCR chair's flag, Milo departed UC Davis to continue his tour.
Background: I am the Davis College Republicans’ Political Director, and I helped coordinate the recent Milo event held and then cancelled at UC Davis. Although I cannot give a full account of everything that occurred tonight, I would like to give outsiders a look into the problems, solutions, and decisions that went into tonight.
Six months ago, we learned that Milo had decided to come to our university, UC Davis. As political director, it was my job to generally be able predict everything that could happen on the political side, almost predicting what Milo might talk about. I spent hours watching YouTube videos from his previous tours and his current tour on free speech. I read hundreds more of the transcripts of his speeches, especially looking at after the election, as that particular genre would be small. I would say I’m not a huge Milo fan, but I’ve watched enough to pass as a hardcore fan. Although I felt confident in my knowledge of his politics, I was unsure of my opinion of him.
During my search, I found the truth was much different than the media could capture. The media frequently calls him a bully, alt-right spokesperson, and sexist. I will admit, I was inclined to believe that after reading a few of his more popularized articles. However, since we were hosting him, I knew that I had to complete my job, however tenuous. Article after article, video after video, and transcript after transcript, I couldn’t find anything that made me think he was illogical. Agitator, yes. Absurd, most definitely. He frequently started off using data and facts that he was trying to prove as incorrect or said extremely absurd things to challenge people to defend the truth. Although my opinion concerning politeness and respect for others remains unchanged, I admired his way of challenging the media’s interpretations of statistics, using sound logic and reasoning. According to the research, Milo is only an impolite provocateur with the purpose of bringing real thought to campuses. Since the need for social challenge on liberal-run colleges are lacking, I felt he was a good speaker to bring to UC Davis.
There were many times I found myself reviewing my opinion. Did I mess up? What am I thinking – Milo is insane! But the engineer judges on the facts, not the feelings, not the general consensus. The fact was that even on his most heinous “crime”, singling out one person for attack, brought up his point that free speech is free speech, no matter how much like bullying it appears. Universities continually ignore the privacy rights of those accused of rape, so in that case everything on the campus judicial court is open news and free speech, including Title IX legislative arguments and rape on campus. You can’t have one without the other, and while Milo may have said this in poor taste, he was within his rights to bring up Title IX cases as well as supposed rape cases like mattress girl. The fact is that there are two sides to every argument, and both deserve to be heard.
There are two sides to politics too. The left and the right frequently disagree on the tiniest details, using the law and the Constitution to support their ideals. The right, in favor of free speech, often doesn’t bother to protest the non-extreme cases of liberalism. The left prefers to protest everything, including but not limited to non-provocative displays and speakers looking for attention. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle: if the left stopped protesting, then the extremists would fade away from people learning what their beliefs are, and rejecting them, and those truly on the extreme side would find themselves in dialogue with communities that slowly moderate them. Imagine if you were on one side of an idea, and hated the other side. Then, if that other side protested something, you’d naturally be drawn by curiosity to it, as the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If you allow dialogue between contrary opinions, then you automatically reject the “outcast” feeling and promote critical thinking. Protesters seem to forget that preventing dialogue at the Milo event encourages people to follow him. The grass is always greener on the other, unattainable side.
That’s why the protesters shot themselves in the foot. Had the protest been peaceful, then the event would have gone on as planned, and there would have been meaningful dialogue and rejection of Milo’s rudeness. Instead, the police officers had to confiscate hammers while they watched protesters mistreat reporters and felt their lives were threatened, so much so that they asked our club to cancel the event. There’s no choice in choosing between life and dialogue, but it’s a choice we didn’t want to make. Reports go on and on about how College Republicans cancelled the event. While true in legality, it wasn’t true in whole. We shut down the event to protect everyone, from the officers to even, yes, the protesters. However, they are the true losers here. Just like when Black Lives Matter decided to commit crimes and lose the support of many good people, when the protesters legitimately threatened lives, they lost all credibility. How many people want to support Milo now?
Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer