Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
At this time last week, Milo Yiannopoulos’ highlights were glowing especially bright. He’d just wrapped an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, his first appearance in a mainstream comedy show, he’d landed a six-figure book deal from Simon & Schuster, and he was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at CPAC, the premiere conference for American conservatives. The so-called alt-right movement he’s championed has proven ascendent, and “daddy” is now the leader of the free world.
Then came the fall, thanks in no small part to a “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” 16-year-old from Canada identified only as “Julia.”
“I see Milo as this embodiment of the awfulness you see over the past few years with the general tilt of millennial conservatism,” she told Vox’s German Lopez. “It’s diverged from this traditional conservatism so much. You’ve seen it essentially become full of awfulness and all about attacking the left and not about actual principles. It has nothing to do with conservative ideology so much as it has with opposing leftists, SJWs, and so on and so forth.”
When she learned of Yiannopoulos’ invite to CPAC, Julia felt compelled to dig through past footage of the Breitbart editor. The teen recalled a July 2016 podcast in which Yiannopoulos had not only defended adult men sleeping with 13-year-old boys but advocated it as a rite of passage. (Yiannopoulos claims that he was sexually abused by a priest as a young boy.)
Julia remembered correctly.
“I thought it would only get, like, 200 retweets,” she said. “I had no idea that it would blow up to the extent that it did.”
Despite having only a handful of followers, Julia’s tweet quickly caught the attention of the conservative blog, the Reagan Battalion. By the end of the week, the podcast clip had cost Yiannopoulos his book deal, his gig at Breitbart, and his standing with the far right, at least for the time being.
The 16-year-old hopes the incident will chase trolls like Milo Yiannopoulos out of the conservative tent.
“You shouldn’t have to feel intimidated to stand up for what you believe in,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll realize that you can’t keep being this reactionary movement — if you can even call it that. You can’t just keep looking for enemies to attack and pointing the finger. Eventually, you have to stand up for something.”
Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.