Numerous prominent employees at the conservative “news” site Breitbart are reportedly prepared to leave the company if controversial senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is not fired. A fellow senior Breitbart editor, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Monday that “at least half a dozen” high-level employees were prepared to leave over Yiannopoulos’ defense of pedophilia that surfaced over the weekend.
“The fact of the matter is that there’s been so many things that have been objectionable about Milo over the last couple of years, quite frankly. This is something far more sinister,” he said. “If the company isn’t willing to act, there are at least a half dozen people who are willing to walk out over it.” Indeed Yiannopoulos’ career has been defined by his controversial statements on everything from feminism to refugees. The most recent controversy, however, has resulted in a far greater backlash than any of his previous bigoted statements.
The controversy arose over a 2016 video in which the alt-right icon appears to defend pedophilia. The video was posted on YouTube last January but gained traction only over the weekend after a prominent conservative blog posted it. In the video, Yiannopoulos says that sexual relationships between older men and young boys can be beneficial and nonchalantly discusses his own sexual assault.
Yiannopoulos has attempted to defend his apparently indefensible speech. “I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim,” he wrote. “I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers…. My professional record is very clear.” At the same time, however, the scion of the neo-fascist alt-right seemed to acknowledge that that entire defense was nothing but alternative facts. “But I do understand,” he added, “that these videos… paint a different picture.”
In the aftermath of his pedophilia defense being released, Milo’s chickens are finally coming home to roost. The revelation of Breitbart writers and editors prepared to quit in protest is only the most recent blowback he has faced. Most importantly, his invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the nation’s top gathering of conservative political figures, was rescinded on Monday. His upcoming book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster has also been cancelled.
As tragic as Milo’s own sexual assault is, we should be relieved that the alt-right scion’s obnoxious bigotry and hatred is finally becoming clear even to his fellow conservatives, and we applaud the Breitbart writers who are taking a stand against hatred and pedophilia.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.