A “flaming gay” is the darling of the new right under Trump. What does that actually tell us?
Ok, serious question, is the world becoming more tolerant and accepting, or is prejudice becoming more cunning?
I’m really not sure.
So the other day someone calls me up and says, “Hey Jon, are you related to this Milo Yiannopoulos bloke?”
I don’t know if you know, but Giaan is something of a pen name. I actually have the same last name as this bloke, but back when I started out in direct marketing I quickly found out that having a 5-syllable last name was a real liability.
“No, it’s G-I-A-N… ok look, let me write it out for you. Um.. ok. I’ll need a bigger piece of paper…”
So I truncated it to something that was easier to the Aussie ear (and my response rate jumped from 0.7% to 1.6%… and to 2.5% in Queensland! I kid you not).
So anyway, I said, I don’t know, I’ll have to ask the aunties… But who is he?
And my friend said, “You know, he’s that flamboyant gay guy who’s part of the Trump administration.
“Republicans have a gay spokesperson?”
“Yeah. And he has a black boyfriend.”
At this point I had to do a quick fact check to make sure that my friend wasn’t calling in from some alternate reality.
Milo isn’t part of the Trump team exactly. But he is a senior editor at Breitbart. Breitbart’s founder Steve Bannon is now Trumps chief of staff, so the ties are pretty close.
They also seem to be using Milo to bait liberals at university campuses, for shits and giggles. He has a flair for the outrageous, and a few weeks back there was a riot at Berkely University when Milo was supposed to give a talk there.
So yeah, a well-dressed shit-stirrer. Sounds like we could be related. (But we’re not. I checked.)
But then I just found the whole thing very interesting. How is it that suddenly we have a Republican President – even a Republican party – who are happy to let a gay wog with an African American boyfriend represent them?
(At least publicly they seem to be happy about it. I did a quick search and I couldn’t find anyone complaining about it…)
This is something of a milestone, right? Something of a turning point. We have reached an age where a man’s sexual preference doesn’t influence the role he can play in mainstream politics – even conservative politics.
(I’m surprised progressive people aren’t happier about it.)
But what does it really mean?
So I’ve got two interpretations on it for you. One is sunny, the other not so sunny.
The sunny version is that Trump, the alpha-politician, has totally tamed the Republican party, and he is quietly replacing hard-edged ideology with a softer, fuzzier, more pragmatic conservatism.
He really is draining the swamp.
Remember how he stood on stage during the primaries with a rainbow flag with LGBTQ’s for Trump written on it? Remember where he got up at his confirmation and said America needed to do more to protect LGBTQ people (from terrorism), and all the Republicans cheered.
He plays the right-wing strong man when the politics demands it, but he’s a giant care-bear at heart. And he’s using his power and position to sideline past conservative prejudices, and create a more inclusive, rainbow friendly America.
I’m just speculating here but the theory fits the facts.
Maybe Trump is uniting conservatives and progressives and really is making America great again.
Maybe this is just the arc of the moral universe bending towards justice, as Martin Luther King said it always would. The conservatives of today would look like fanatical radicals to the conservatives of 100 years ago.
This is just what history does.
So what’s the less sunny version?
In the less-sunny version, power-demons don’t really care who is working for them, as long as they’re the boss. Maybe Trump is an instrument of what I call ‘pragmatic oppression’.
As I see it, there are two types of oppression in the world. First, there is bigoted oppression. This is based on some sort of perceived difference – race, class, sexual preference, gender, nationality etc.
You are a less-worthy being than myself, therefore I have the right to coerce you into doing my will.
Black people should be slaves because they’re not capable of anything better. Women should stay home and cook and clean because that’s what God said they should do. Gay people should stick to interior design and not get uppity about getting the same rights as ‘normal’ people.
The other type of oppression is a little more scary. ‘Pragmatic oppression’ is more cold and calculating. It says, I don’t really care who you are or what you are about. I’m only interested in whether I can manipulate you to my own ends.
The Illuminati is an equal-opportunity employer.
And so maybe what we see with Trump is the era of bigoted oppression being replaced with a more calculating, pragmatic oppression.
In this version of the world, the only thing that matters is whether you have wealth and power. You could be a Chinese property developer, a Russian Mafioso, an African military strongman – it doesn’t matter. You could put on a sequined jacket and do Boy from Oz covers if you wanted to.
The only thing that matters is will you make me and my mates richer and more powerful.
(And if the truth be told, I suspect that a lot of bigoted oppression through history has been artificially engineered to serve the needs of pragmatic oppression.)
So which is it? This theory fits the facts as well. And I’m just not sure.
Has the world turned a corner or taken a nasty turn? Is Trump a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a champion of justice? Or does he carry around a banal and calculating evil in his cold, cold heart?
Right now, it seems impossible to tell.
That’s why they’re such interesting times.
What do you think? Why do Republicans love Milo? Is there an agenda at play or is Trump actually on a mission to do some good – and achieving it?