Milo Yiannopoulos talk at NYU will go on despite protests, spokesman says
UPDATE: Milo Yiannopoulos's appearance was postponed over safety concerns.
Former Breitbart editor and controversial right-wing figure Milo Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak about "the politics of Halloween" at NYU on Wednesday (10/31). As the New York Post reports, Yiannopoulos was invited by Michael Rectenwald, a Liberal Studies professor who has been referred to as NYU's "anti-PC" professor", to talk about how Halloween "connects to broader issues in our culture concerning free expression." "This is a way to get Milo a platform to speak on campus without the problems of protest," Rectenwald said. "We’ve been working on this for a while but we decided Halloween was the best time because it raises so many issues that he and I are both concerned with." He continued, "It’s ridiculous! Halloween used to be a night for the inappropriate or raising hell. For tricking and treating — rather harmlessly. But now, the issue is for what’s appropriate. They are talking about giving safe spaces so that people are not offended by Halloween costumes." "This is not a publicity stunt," he insisted.
Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at an NYU College Republicans event in October of 2016; his appearance was cancelled due to safety concerns. Some are trying to get this appearance cancelled, as well. "Milo and his fascist, white supremacist speech — which has often included calls to violence — are dangerous for many of our students," the NYU Graduate Student Organizing Committee posted on Twitter. "For educational workers, this is what a workplace safety struggle looks like. He has no place in any classroom." NYU's Student Labor Action Movement started a "Say No to Milo" campaign, posting on Twitter, "he’s been kicked off campus before. He can be kicked off again."
NYU Jewish Voices for Peace, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, Student Labor Action Movement and Roosevelt Institute at NYU wrote a joint public statement condemning Yiannopoulos's scheduled talk, which you can read in full below. "The appearance of Yiannopoulos on our campus would be both foolish and dangerous," they write. "Yiannopoulos is attempting to use NYU as another instrument in the normalization of violent white supremacy. Whether they realize it or not, in allowing Yiannopoulos to speak at NYU, the NYU administration and Professor Rectenwald are participants in the far-right's rehabilitation and are complicit in enabling the resulting violence...As we mourn the victims of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting and the Kentucky Kroger shooting, the former being one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in United States history, we ask that NYU does its part to end the cycle of violence and normalization fo white supremacy, and cancels Milo Yiannopoulos's appearance."
NYU spokesman John Beckman released a statement about Yiannopoulos's appearance. "Mr. Yiannopoulos has espoused many ideas that are at odds with the values of the NYU community and are offensive to its members," it reads. "But as an invited speaker, he will be allowed to address Professor Rectenwald's class because even in the face of controversy and profound disagreement, adherence to the principles of academic freedom is a core value." Read his full statement below.
Professor Rectenwald spoke to The Independent about protests against Yiannopoulos's appearance in his classroom. "Of course, there are other students planning a protest," he said. “Campus leftists and Antifa are known to be extremely explosive, violent, and they think they can do anything to stop people from speaking." He continued, "I welcome protests - because I love free speech. But the grubby little urchins have to keep their mitts to themselves. No one deserves to be physically hurt for their beliefs, except vegans and cyclists."