Milo Yiannopoulos, editor for Breitbart and de facto figurehead for the alt-right movement, is someone who clearly loves controversy. Similar to Littlefinger from Game of Thrones, Milo thrives in chaos that controversy spawns. But, if “chaos is a ladder,” as Litterfinger claims, then “many who try to climb it fail.” This weekend, Milo failed after video surfaced of him encouraging relationships between “younger boys and older men.”
This video resulted in Milo’s disinvitation from the CPAC conference and the cancellation of his book deal. He may even lose his job from Breitbart, which would be surprising given what that publication is usually willing to put up with. I’ve seen plenty of conservatives jump to his defense, which also surprises me. I’m not saying that Milo deserves to lose his job or anything like that. However, I have seen an unfortunate trend recently. Republicans have become hyper-partisan, defending anybody they like no matter what they do. They will even rationalize their behavior as if what they’ve done is okay, or even good. Milo’s situation is just one example of this. As a party, we are not facing reality. More importantly, by defending the indefensible, we are losing the moral high ground that separated us from the Democrats for so long.
Let me start with the Milo controversy to further illustrate my point that conservatives have turned a blind eye to anything their own do wrong lately. Many have argued that his words were taken out of context, or that he didn’t intend what he said. Here is a full quote from that video:
“This arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys the understanding that many of us have of the complexities and subtleties and complicated nature of many relationships. People are messy and complex, and in the homosexual world particularly some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and, sort of, a rock.”
“In the gay world, some of the most important, enriching, and incredibly life affirming, shaping relationships between younger boys and older men, they can be hugely positive experiences for those young boys.”
The problem with this argument is it’s red herring fallacy. It’s an attempt to distract from the point and change the argument into a topic (the “Us vs. Them” theme) that some conservatives are most comfortable with. We need to cut it out. Of course Milo has the right to say whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean that he should. When something is wrong, it’s wrong, no matter who said it. The conservative movement I remember was based on the principle that there is a clear moral standard in this world. It is what separated us from the liberals who believed that every lifestyle was as good as every other lifestyle. When did we abandon morals for outrage and “speaking your mind” under the guise of free speech, regardless of whether that speech is moral or factual?
This brings me to Donald Trump. Most Milo fans absolutely love our current president. Beyond that, many Republicans refuse to admit Donald Trump is doing anything wrong. They jump through mental hoops in order to justify all the things he’s said and done. As a lifelong Christian and Republican, I find this absolutely astounding. Considering how outraged our party was about all the Bill Clinton scandals, and how it would strain at every gnat during Barack Obama’s administration, it is certainly swallowing a bunch of camels for Trump.
I was going to make a list of all the immoral things Trump has said and done, but there were just too many to sort through. This is a man who has been through three marriages and has proudly cheated on all of his wives. He’s been in a porn video and on the cover of Playboy, which ended up in an unfortunate picture of him and Jerry Falwell Jr. He’s been accused of sexual assault by several women. There doesn’t appear to be much evidence of this sexual assault, except for this disturbing video in which he may or may not describe how he grabs women without asking. Many claim that Trump has questionable business practices, an aspect of which involved his failed Trump University. I could go on, but those who support Trump are already coming up with rationalizations to defend all these things.
Some Trump supporters have acknowledged his mistakes, but believe they don’t matter. They argue that a person’s morals have nothing to do with his or her ability to lead. I firmly believe the opposite. So far, the Trump Administration has been chaotic. There’s room for debate as to why, but I have to believe his lack of morals has something to do with it. Most people develop their political philosophies from their sense of moral beliefs. If we are led by someone who has nothing of the latter (and probably very little of the former), then things will remain chaotic. The reason why Trump changes his mind on policy all the time is because he doesn’t know what is right or wrong. Think also why he equated Putin’s Russia to America. If you don’t have a sense of morals, then why is America any better than Russia? Why is Putin so bad? That’s a scary thought, but it’s also what makes moral sturdiness so important in a leader.
I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial by arguing that we need leaders with strong moral principles. Most conservatives out there believe in a clear right and wrong. However, when Milo’s video came out, many of those conservatives, as Matt Walsh puts it, “were willing to abandon or at least recalibrate, at the drop of a hat, the most self-evident of all moral principles for the sake of defending some guy on the internet.” In this case, that moral principle is the idea that men and young boys shouldn’t have sexual relationships. However, this statement could just as easily apply to Donald Trump. Most conservatives I know wouldn’t put up with anything Trump has said or done in their everyday lives. However, they look the other way just for him. This is putting “personality over principle,” where people pick their guy and support whatever he does. They allow him to do the thinking for them, because he can’t possibly be wrong.
As conservatives, we need to do better than this. We were once the party that believed in decency and morality. Now, I worry we are allowing the wrong figures to lead us astray. In order to avoid this, we need to stick with our principles and stop overlooking the indiscretions within our own party.
Follow this Author on Twitter @StevenMiner14