The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Love and Honor. Those two things, apparently, are the basis of all things Miami now. Emit love and honor in your interactions, represent your Miami community gracefully, speak to each other with respect. But the truth is that Love and Honor began simply as a big marketing campaign to match our fight song. It’s only just started to mean something real. So, in a value-based community such as ours, what does it mean that we accept, without statement for the rest of the community, without a display of love or honor, Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to campus?
In a hyper locked-down Harry T. Wilks Theater, surrounded by more than 10 Miami University police officers, one police K9 and over 250 supporters, Yiannopoulos railed against liberal college students for demanding safe spaces. Under the protection of the local MUPD, Yiannopoulos, a quick thinker and debater, covered topics ranging from the inherent violence of Islam, how Title IX has apparently destroyed gender relations, how he (an open homosexual) wished electroshock therapy worked, and a “fat fucking faggot” professor, among other things.
Then, there was our favorite:
“If there was something that idiot should have driven his car into, it was the gender studies department,” in reference to the attack at Ohio State last week.
Just next door in Upham Hall, former speechwriter for the Obama administration Kevin Samy held a more progressive alternative. Samy spoke to students and faculty about the threat that the alt-right movement presents for Americans today, running parallel to Yiannopoulos’ talk. While the latter was touting hate speech and disguising it as fact with biased statistics (indeed, he said that 1 in 4 rape statistic commonly cited today wasn’t true), Samy discussed the alt-right movement as a front for white supremacy and hyper-masculinity.
In many ways, the parallel — but ideologically and physically separate — talks are representative of the overall climate in the country. In one, an almost unanimously white crowd looked on at an entertaining, largely inaccurate, bigoted, incendiary, rich white public speaker. On the other side, a man of color presented a narrative emphasizing awareness and the necessity of active citizenship and participation.
America is great because these two narratives can coexist. But legitimizing one of them would be giving it the credibility, the validity, it doesn’t deserve. And it would take away from the steps that Miami has attempted to take through its Love and Honor campaign.
As Ceili Doyle points out in her article on Samy’s visit, only about one to three percent of Trump supporters are alt-right. Yiannopoulos and his disgraceful rhetoric doesn’t represent the majority on this campus, nor does it represent many of the Republicans in America. Yet, it emboldens a racist, misogynistic and dishonest, uninformed narrative, one that ignores the truths of this country and that actively works against the alleged values of the university.
So, to get back to our original question: what does it mean that our value-based community allowed for this rhetoric to happen on campus, in its most central building, without a statement? It emphasizes the fact that the campaign of Love and Honor is missing one crucial thing: respect.
A campus that respects its students wouldn’t bring someone as unqualified and deeply pathetic as Yiannopoulos to speak. A campus that respects its students would attempt to engage both sides in dialogue. Certainly, at its most basic level, a campus that respects its students would react in some way against a speaker that is actively against Title IX, especially after all of the “celebrated” efforts that the campus has been taking for victims of sexual assault.
But Love and Honor doesn’t include respect.
How many more Yiappolousesque speakers will it take before the Miami community indeed rises to the occasion and stands up for what we hold in high regard?