The Campus Antifascist Network (CAN), an international, multi-campus organization comprised of activist-scholars and students, denounces the decision of administrators across the California State University system to allow an unapologetically racist, Islamophobic, transphobic, ableist, and misogynistic far-right provocateur like Milo Yiannopoulos a forum for his bigoted social and political views. His past events have made it clear that he is not interested in dialogue or debate—he means merely to provoke, and thus his presence on campus serves no conceivable educational purpose. CAN calls on all students and faculty interested in protecting on- and off-campus communities to stand united against the alt-right threat in the faces of indifferent, or even hostile, campus administrations.
As was clear at his appearance on the UC Berkeley campus in September, Yiannopoulos is solely interested in self-serving publicity, and fosters it at huge public expense. The UC spent approximately $800,000 on security for what turned out to be a 15-minute photo op for Yiannopoulos on the steps of Sproul Hall. That’s about $53,000 a minute. Earlier this same year, the right-wing terrorist element that Yiannopoulos brings onto every campus he visits resulted in over $100,000 in property damage to Berkeley’s campus. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo spent $55,000 on 110 police officers to monitor less than 100 peaceful protestors. When, on average, 1 in 10 CSU students are homeless and 1 in 4 are food insecure, it is imperative that campus administrators realize the money wasted on security details for far-right provocateurs could be better spent on meeting the basic needs of students.
CAN believes that the gross fiscal irresponsibility that extending an invitation to Yiannopoulos represents should really be the least of administration’s concerns. The tremendous cost in dollars, human labor, and logistical efforts is compounded by the effects of the hate-filled venom he spews. The rhetoric that Yiannopoulos deploys is, first and foremost, the most egregious form of symbolic violence against already marginalized communities struggling for their rights to exist on college or university campuses and elsewhere. As an alt-right proponent of white nationalism and misogyny, Yiannopoulos has denounced Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization,” denied the existence of rape culture as a “feminist myth,” invoked racist biological determinism to attack women’s reproductive rights, and actively encouraged the mass murder of Arab and Muslim children.
The presence of Yiannopoulos is also a direct threat to the emotional, psychological, and physical safety of students, faculty, and members of the communities surrounding the campuses where Yiannopoulos may be allowed to speak. His actions have made it clear that he wishes to invade people’s privacy, harass them, and expose them to attacks by others. At the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, he publicly outed and shamed a trans UWM student. At the University of New Mexico he actively encouraged students to turn undocumented peers over to ICE operatives. Recently, Yiannopoulos has been actively working with ultra-conservative University of Chicago professor Rachel Fulton Brown to harass and intimidate Vassar College medievalist Dorothy Kim as a result of Kim’s commitment to anti-racist scholar-activism. No institution that would allow Yiannopoulos to speak can claim an honest commitment to academic freedom.
In a broader political climate where right-wing attacks on faculty and students have become increasingly more common, allowing Yiannopoulos a platform for his outrageous views will also only embolden hard-right, fascist, and crypto-fascist organizations to engage in recruitment efforts on CSU campuses and to further bully, harass, and intimidate faculty and students. At a City University of New York event in May of this year, right-wing terrorists physically attacked participants at a peaceful counter-event featuring Palestinian solidarity activist and anti-racist scholar Linda Sarsour. Supporters of Yiannopoulos at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and CSU Fullerton have threatened his critics with physical assault, rape, and even murder. And the ever-increasing militarization of college campuses out of a superficial concern for “student safety” when Yiannopoulos and hate-mongers like him appear has, in fact, only put some of the most vulnerable students at greater risk of experiencing state-sanctioned violence without removing the right-wing terrorist threat.
The very real danger that Milo and his followers pose ought not to be tolerated, nor should fear of legal action masquerading as respect for “free speech.” There is no viable excuse for allowing speech only intent on harm to have a public stage. CAN stands in solidarity with faculty and students who are taking collective action against Yiannopoulos, and the hate that he represents. We encourage students and faculty to join CAN or other similarly oriented organizations to grow the fight against that hate. While past experience has shown us that faculty and students can in no way rely on administrators to make the correct political decision, we are nonetheless deeply troubled by administration’s failure thus far to support students and faculty as they exercise their civil rights. We urge you not give in to alt-right political pressure. CAN will continue fighting on every front to prevent hate from poisoning the CSU system, and also the broader communities of which it is a part. With all those already in that fight, and all those who wish to become part of it, CAN stands in unwavering solidarity.
To become part of the Campus Antifascist Network, or for additional resources and assistance, please contact us at: