Last October, a debate about cultural appropriation and racial justice — triggered in part by an email about Halloween costumes — stirred controversy across campus. Now, the notoriously provocative conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos is capitalizing on that controversy, promising to wear full Native American garb when he speaks at Yale next fall.

Yiannopoulos is the current technology editor of Breitbart and the founder of The Kernel, an online tabloid magazine focused on technology. He has drawn resounding criticism from liberals for his controversial opinions, which include his avid support for Donald Trump and a belief that lesbianism does not exist, despite his own homosexuality. He will be speaking at Yale on Oct. 28 as a part of his “The Dangerous F—-t Tour,” during which he will address topics such as safe spaces, cultural appropriation and trigger warnings. On March 25 — the same day Yiannopoulos confirmed on Twitter that he would be speaking at Yale — he also tweeted that he plans to wear a Native American costume to his presentation here. Yiannopoulous told the News that students invited him to speak, but he did not know whether they were affiliated with a campus organization. He would not provide their names.

“It appears to me sad that the free lunacy of progressives is taking even America’s best universities, and it seems to me the best way to deal with this culture of outrage is to be outrageous,” Yiannopoulos said in an interview with the News. “These are ridiculous people who deserve to be provoked.”

His tour has already successfully provoked audiences, even before his arrival: His planned stops at Dulwich College and the John Hampden Grammar School in England were “banned,” according to Yiannopoulos’ website. And students at Yale have already begun speaking against Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance.

Native American Cultural Center house manager Kyle Ranieri ’18 said Yiannopoulos’ professed intention to come in full Native American dress is “blatant cultural appropriation” which perpetuates existing systemic discrimination and oppression of indigenous peoples. Kodi Alvord ’17, president of the NACC-affiliated performance group Blue Feather, said Yiannopoulos’ claims about American Indian cultural identity demonstrate that he is not equipped to have a productive debate at Yale and should not come. If he does come, Alvord added, ideally the NACC would host an alternative event at the same time.

“When you have Milo coming to campus saying he’s wearing a Native American costume, I want to ask him what he thinks that is, because a generic Native American costume doesn’t exist when you have these many [Native] groups,” Alvord said. “It’s insulting; people are upset; and it’s disappointing and surprising that someone who is so unqualified to debate something which should not be debated anyway can profit off their own ignorance and arrogance and spread those misconceptions.”

Yiannopoulos told the News he intends to speak on why there is no such thing as cultural appropriation and how the so-called offense is actually the way art has always functioned. He added that in his experience, many constituents of cultures that are supposedly being appropriated are actually grateful to have others enjoy and cherish their cultures. Cultures are being stamped out by progressives who say they want to protect them, he said.

Administrators in the past have affirmed the University’s commitment to free speech and diversity of ideas. In September 2014, when the Muslim Students Association expressed concern over the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program’s decision to invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a prominent critic of radical Islam, to campus, University President Peter Salovey told the News that students may invite speakers regardless of their views or beliefs. Under University policy, students may also engage in dialogue with the speaker or organize peaceful protests, as long as they do not negatively impact the audience’s ability to listen to the speaker.

Despite some students’ protestations, others have stood by Yiannopoulos, whether or not they agree with his viewpoints. Karl Notturno ’17 said conversations surrounding these topics should not be suppressed, as such methods would only lead to greater consequences in the future. He added that the tour’s basis is settled on a dangerous trend in academia where the “regressive left” uses social pressure to enforce what people can and cannot say. Even if Yiannopoulos is wrong, Notturno said, he brings up ideas and topics that are important to address, and the only way to prove him wrong is by engaging with what he says.

Yiannopoulos himself has encouraged students who disagree with him to engage him in debate, saying that he is open to being convinced.

Mohit Sani ’19 said while he does not think Yiannopoulos’ planned outfit is appropriate, he hopes that those who attend the event will be able to listen to his ideas and realize that intolerance cannot be justified, no matter the cause. People in a progressive movement have to be continually self-aware and make sure they are reaching out to others in the best way, Sani added, and that was not always true of last semester’s racially charged events. There was much “moral superiority” and “bitterness” last fall, because many members of the racial injustice movement were sure they were right, Sani said.

Still, Ranieri disagreed that Yiannopoulos is the right candidate to foster a productive conversation.

“To have an open conversation on these topics does not require someone who is ignorant of different cultures and their relation to speech,” he said. “In fact, I believe Milo’s presence is counterproductive to important dialogue on diverse cultures and speech.”

Last January, Yiannopoulos cofounded the Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant, a scholarship exclusively available to white males pursuing a college education.

Clarification, Apr. 6: A previous version of this article misrepresented Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of radical Islam, as “anti-Islamic.” It also mischaracterized Kodi Alvord’s ’17 remarks. 

  • ShadrachSmith

    I love Milo. Yale could use a lot more Milo. Since Joseph Gayetty, a white American, invented modern commercially available toilet paper in the United States @1857, is it cultural appropriation for other cultures to use toilet paper?

    • Havid Damburger

      Cars, cell phones, wood frame houses. They wouldnt be liberals if they werent hipocrites

  • https://twitter.com/malcolmingabout Malcolm H. Johnston

    What do all these “native American” kids who protest wear to school every day? Jeans, T shirts, suits, ties, etc. Why are they culturally appropriating the attire of Caucasians. It’s an outrage. They should stop driving cars too, maybe run through the bush on their way to school bagging deer along the way.

  • Heloise

    This kind of speaker is exactly what students need to help them find their sense of humour and remember the value of debate and free speech. Let the regressives cower in their safe spaces and grumble about being triggered and traumatised by ideas they disagree with. They are obviously too fragile to cope with the real world anyway.

  • Johnnydub

    Snowflakes at Yale – toughen up. The real world is not a safe space.

  • disqus_fvLIBK8ktD

    The reaction to Milo’s tease seems determined to make his point for him.

  • LanceSmith

    ““When you have Milo coming to campus saying he’s
    wearing a Native American costume, I want to ask him what he thinks that
    is, because a generic Native American costume doesn’t exist when you
    have these many [Native] groups,” Alvord said.”

    THEN ASK HIM. That’s the whole point. You don’t need to hold a parallel event at the same time. You don’t need to shut down his speech (either by disinviting him or by disrupting it). You don’t even need to stand outside and protest (though if that’s what you want, feel free). If you have seen his talks at other universities on YouTube you would see that he doesn’t really come with a “prepared talk” as much as he comes to have a dialog. In fact, he often moves the prepared portion along quicker to get to the more juicy Q/A. The folks at the parallel event or standing outside miss this opportunity to challenge his position. That doesn’t help your position one iota. The real world does not (can not) have all sorts to “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” The outrage culture found on campus is an outlier. The best thing you can do is learn to be challenged and learn the right way to debate your position.

    Yale was not shown in a good light this past fall. A tiny number of folks on the regressive left made Yale look like a bunch of backwards, uneducated, yahoos. This is an opportunity for Yale to redeem itself.

  • chizwoz

    Kristakis tried to have a productive conversation last year. The children failed and ruined his wife’s job.
    Next you get Milo.

  • MNorby

    Kodi demonstrates Yiannopolous’ point exactly with his totalitarian ideas: “…debate something which should not be debated anyway…” If he wants to ban debate in our society, he doesn’t understand it and should stay on the sidelines where he belongs, while using his time at college to expand his understanding of the world rather than play race politics to harden his brain.

  • Can’t Disagree But…

    Milo Yiannopoulos is the Jim Thorpe of controversy.

    • ronchris

      A veritable Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren, in drag.

  • CharlieWalls

    What an intellectual expectation — to be provoked — by how the fellow dresses! Gore Vidal was once punched by Roman Mailer and then comment that Mailer never could express himself in words.

  • http://ᴡᴡᴡ.sexy22.pw fiftyoddkickback

    He is outrageous…and fabulous. And no one fights so fiercely for free speech the way he does. If you love free speech, you will love Milo.

  • peachy beachwood

    Funny Yale students are offended by Milo “dressing in indian costume”, but they are not offended by their own Skull&Bones Frat House keeping Geronimo’s literal HUMAN HEAD in a Trophy case.

    • Shoelace Von Hitlerpants

      I think “Skull&Bones” has PROVEN they are not – (GASP!) –

      the dreaded – CONSERVATIVES! ! !

  • Whippy Pippy Boy

    You can’t stump the Milo

    • Choags

      CENTIPEDE!

  • Thomas Hyder

    I find it interesting that you didn’t mention that the headdress that Milo will be wearing is from an actual tribe in the southwest, with their permission.

    • Anthony Hyde

      Cool.

  • aaleli

    Well of course it did. There is no room for diversity of thought on this ‘reverse-racist”, progressive campus.

  • teh_LoU

    You people are so funny. He’s doing this because you continue to be upset. If you would ignore his harmless words he would stop. But no….you don’t have any actual hardships in your lives so you have to invent issues.

  • A-Train

    Bullet proof doors, and troll proof doors, in my safe space!!

  • Veritasortruth

    Milo is a blast. He’s just what is needed on US College Campuses at the moment to breakup the insanity of Political Correctness. Milo hates PC with a passion and wants to destroy it. He enjoys getting under the skin of the self-righteous hypocrites who are destroying non-STEM education. We need Milo to help save the liberal arts from the liberals.
    The guy is becoming a folk hero for we liberty-loving libertarians. It’s almost worth booking a ticket from San Francisco to New Haven just to see the spectacle of his speech- if I could get in since I’m sure the public won’t have access to the event.

  • Bob

    “When you have Milo coming to campus saying he’s wearing a Native American costume, I want to ask him what he thinks that is, because a generic Native American costume doesn’t exist when you have these many [Native] groups,

    That’s precisely the point my good man! You do want to debate him about cultural appropriation. And you will have that opportunity unless you construct a “safe space” to hide in.

  • John Wayne

    So the Muslim Students Association wants to silence critics of radical islam, huh? The only logical conclusion I can draw from that is that this organization supports radical islam.. I guess the members should be on a watch list.

  • Luc

    Milo!

  • Kira

    Suck it up snowflakes!