America's Love Affair With Immoral And Mediocre-Ass White Men Will Be Its Downfall

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

If we are to believe Bill Maher — and, for the record, I don't — booking pig anus found in the bottom of a package of chitlins with sentience Milo Yiannopoulos was an elaborate bit of subterfuge intended to shine a light on how repugnant Yiannopoulos's views and actions are.

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From Dave Itzkoff's interview with Maher in the New York Times:

Given all that has transpired since Friday’s show, how do you feel now about your decision to have Milo Yiannopoulos as a guest, and how those segments transpired?

Well, let’s recap. About a week ago, I went on Van Jones’s show, and somebody asked me about the booking. I hadn’t really gotten into the details of Milo yet. He was just getting on my radar. I said, specifically, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Then we had Milo on, despite the fact that many people said, “Oh, how dare you give a platform to this man.” What I think people saw was an emotionally needy Ann Coulter wannabe, trying to make a buck off of the left’s propensity for outrage. And by the end of the weekend, by dinnertime Monday, he’s dropped as a speaker at CPAC. Then he’s dropped by Breitbart, and his book deal falls through. As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. You’re welcome.

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Later in the interview, Maher refers to Yiannopoulos as a brat. Who's not a "monster" but someone who's just a prankster.

You know what he is? He’s the little impish, bratty kid brother. And the liberals are his older teenager sisters who are having a sleepover and he puts a spider in their sleeping bag so he can watch them scream.

In a vacuum, Maher's assertions would seem to be correct. Since his appearance on Real Time, Yiannopoulos has lost a prominent speaking engagement, a lucrative book deal, and his job. Mission accomplished. But if you actually watch the one-on-one interview, Maher doesn't just provide a vindicating national platform for Yiannopoulos's hate, he's so aggressively convivial with him that it almost feels like flirtation. It's two White men revealing in how their shameless immorality allows their pervasive mediocrity to flourish. The damage to Yiannopoulos's career that followed was incidental, not intentional. You watch it and come away thinking that Maher believes he's looking at and talking to a 30-years-younger version of himself. Which he was.

Of course, nothing that happened here — not Maher allowing Yiannopoulos to appear on his show, not Maher's dalliance with Yiannopoulos, not Yiannopoulous only finally facing some sort of consequences for his actions after he was revealed to sympathetic to pedophilia — should surprise anyone. America is fucking head over heels in love with both the concept and the reality of mediocre and immoral White men. An immoral and mediocre White man became President by speaking directly to immoral and mediocre White men who just don't happen to be as successful; allowing them space for their immorality and a platform to blame their mediocrity on Mexicans or Muslims or Blacks or gays or women instead of themselves. While the struggles of others — particularly Black people — are often attributed to some sort of internal deficit they possess, when mediocre White men fail, it's the world, not them, to blame. This love affair with the mediocre White guy is so foundational that White women collectively voted against their own self interests to give them another hand; one of the hundreds of hands America has extended to the mediocre White guy in our history. Our Statue of Liberty should instead be a Monument to Mediocrity; with the image of Libertas replaced by Joe The Currently-Unemployed-Because-Mexicans Plumber.

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It should also be no surprise that Maher is taking credit for Yiannopoulos demise. Because the only thing America loves more than the mediocre White guy is pretending that the shameless promotion of White mediocrity is a meritocracy.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

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Omar Alomran

Progressives are so quick to turn on each other and it's absolutely pathetic. One day Bill Maher is a darling of the left; the next he has Milo on his show and people find it appropriate to utterly demonize him. How many of you have actually watched Milo speak and heard the filth that comes out of his mouth first hand? I challenge anyone to find a clip of Bill Maher behaving in a remotely comparable way to Milo.

Moreover, Milo is not mediocre: he is exceptionally intelligent and charming which makes him exceptionally dangerous. And Maher was not giving him a platform or legitimacy—Milo already has a platform and millions of people who hang on his every Facebook post. He speaks at colleges and conferences around the country to large, adoring audiences. The sooner people accept that Milo is already legitimate as well as dangerously competent, the better off all will be. This is really serious. You do realize that we have a low IQ madman in the White House with 0 impulse control + nuclear weapons and a tightly-knit group of fascists at his side whispering in his ear, yes?

Know who your friends are, know who your enemies are, and for heaven's sake don't underestimate them. Make use of the time that you have left. Activism and resistance is a matter of addition; it's time for those of us who care about preserving and improving our democracy to put aside our petty differences and focus like a fucking laser on our true enemy.