News & Politics

GW Republicans Will Host “Alt-Right” Troll Milo Yiannopoulos on Campus

Photograph via iStock.

Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart editor known for his provocative stunts in service of the so-called “alt-right” movement, will be appearing at George Washington University on October 21 as a guest of the campus’s Republican students. It’ll be the London-based Yiannopoulos’s first visit to a Washington college since he appeared at American University in April for a speech that was interrupted several times by campus activists.

Yiannopoulous, who first rose to internet notoriety as a ringleader of the “Gamergate” movement that savaged female video-game creators and critics, has become better known in 2016 as a font of extreme criticism of Muslims, women’s rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and anything else he deems an agent of political correctness. Most vocally, he’s been an effusive and flamboyant supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to whom he refers to as “Daddy.” (Last Saturday, for instance, he bathed in a tub full of pig’s blood in a performance dedicated to Trump.)

At Breitbart, Yiannopoulous is listed as the right-wing site’s technology editor, though he claims to have an individual staff of 30. According to a recent profile in Bloomberg Businessweek, Yiannopoulous says his money comes from a combination of family inheritance, real-estate transactions, and, in at least one instance, being paid $20,000 by a man for sex while visiting Los Angeles.

The campus GOP club bills its event with Yiannopoulous as part of its fall speakers series, which also includes the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein, representing the “Never Trump” side of the party, and CNN commentator S.E. Cupp, who supports neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton.

According to Allison Coukos of the GW College Republicans, Yiannopoulous, who did not respond to emails, listed the Foggy Bottom campus during the summer as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.

Obviously he is a somewhat controversial figure,” Coukos says. “We decided ultimately this was one of the speakers we wanted to bring.”

So far, Yiannopoulous’s tour has already hit a few snags. An event last month at Florida Atlantic University was canceled after Yiannopoulous received a death threat that the FBI deemed credible. A November date at Villanova University was scrapped after student protests at the Philadelphia-area college.

Yiannopoulous seems to relish making enemies in every corner. In July, he was banned from Twitter—ostensibly for life—after encouraging his followers to attack the actress and comedian Leslie Jones with racist memes and statements over her role in Ghostbusters.

“Trust me, we’re not saying that’s OK,” Coukos says. “We don’t agree with it, but he’s allowed to express his opinion.” (Yiannopoulous’s opinion, as it was, included comparing Jones to a gorilla.)

Still, the GW Republicans may not be entirely simpatico with their upcoming guest. While Yiannopoulous is expected to gush about Trump, the club itself is divided; in July, its chairman, Austin Hansen, wrote in a Facebook statement that it would remain neutral in the presidential race. Coukos describes the membership as about “50-50” on Trump.

While the GW Republicans say they are not paying Yiannopoulous, who has a tour rider of rather silly demands, they are using some funds drawn from the Student Association to pay for the costs of the event, including the room where the event will be held, and security, if necessary. (Undergraduate students pay the association a fee of $2.50 per credit during the academic year.)

So far, response from the rest of the campus has been fairly muted, save an op-ed in the Hatchet asking Yiannopoulous to abstain from “hate speech” or skip GW altogether. Otherwise, the appointment with Yiannopoulous is going forward as a “free-speech event.” And there’s not much Yiannopoulous’s potential detractors may be able to do to keep him away as long as the College Republicans follow the rules.

“The Student Association does not endorse or support the views of any speakers brought by student organizations,” its president, Erika Feinman, writes in an email. So long as student organizations are in compliance with our financial bylaws and university policies, they may choose to bring whomever they like.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.