Controversial commentator Milo Yiannopoulos visits Vanderbilt


Youtube screenshot from live stream

Sam Zern, Editor in Chief

Conservative commentator and Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Vanderbilt on Tuesday as part of his ongoing college tour. The event, put on by the Vanderbilt College Republicans, was a Greek Member Experience credit under the Diversity and Inclusion track.

The subjects of Yiannopoulos’ talks have varied from campus to campus, covering current issues such as feminism and safe spaces, all within the context of the 2016 election. At Vanderbilt, Yiannopoulos’ focus was on the Supreme Court and his thoughts on what would happen if Hillary Clinton fills the potentially vacant Supreme Court seats.

“The First Amendment is at serious risk under a Clinton presidency with a Clinton Supreme Court,” Yiannopoulos said, later pointing out others, including the Second and Fourth Amendments.

Despite being British, Yiannopoulos strongly believes in American exceptionalism, an idea that was received by applauds and cheers from members of the audience. But he mentioned what the ramifications could be if Clinton wins the upcoming election over Trump.

“I come to you as a warning from Europe,” Yiannopoulos said. “You’re going to end up as free as Germany or France if you give up your identity.”

He endorses Donald Trump, who he frequently refers to as “Daddy”, but understands why some do not. However, he stated throughout his talk that he believed Hillary Clinton was a far worse option and that there’s a bigger picture to focus on.

“You have a very difficult and a very important decision to make in this election,”Yiannopoulos said. “I entreat you to hold your nose and vote for [Donald Trump].” 

Though the subjects were serious, Yiannopoulos’ delivery was meant to be humorous and entertaining. The audience laughed quite a bit as students expressed gratitude for Yiannopoulos’ presence on campus during the question and answer segment and subsequent meet and greet. During the question and answer session following his roughly 30 minute speech, Yiannopoulos answered questions on a range of topics, from immigration from Mexico to Pepe the Frog, the controversial meme.

“All I can say is I’m glad, I’m so glad that Southern Poverty Law Center has finally identified the real cause of racial tension in this country,” he said. “It’s not bad schools, it’s not bad laws, it’s not policing, it’s nothing. No, it’s a cartoon frog.”

Yiannopoulos is openly gay and half-Jewish, which he alluded to during his talk. While he finds himself often facing attacks from the left for his views, he also noted the prevalence of far right opponents. Members of the far right have attacked him based on his sexual orientation and religion, but he laughed them off during his speech, calling them “too funny to be real.”

“All of these anti-Semitic and white supremacist sites don’t like me very much either,” he said. “They love to hate me.”

Yiannopoulos has made national news recently. He was permanently banned from Twitter after he made comments Twitter considered harassment towards Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones. Yiannopoulos said Tuesday night that he stood by what he said.

While Yiannopoulos’ talks were disrupted by protesters at other universities, such as DePaul or UCLA, Vanderbilt students in opposition instead hosted their own party at the same time, across the student center from Yiannopoulos’ event. Both events were well attended, and there did not appear to be any interruptions at either. Although the speech went uninterrupted by protesters, Yiannopoulos did make a brief reference to them early on. He called them “haters of freedom” and “dreadful people” among other terms.

“You’re better behaved than those crazies on the other side of campus in the dining hall,” he said.

The full talk was live streamed to YouTube and can be viewed here: