At the University of Washington, the College Republicans club is being accused of inflaming tensions by inviting a right-wing speaker for Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.
Those Republicans, however, say the timing of the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart News, is accidental. Breitbart News publishes pieces that criticize and ridicule working women, Muslims and people of color.
UW’s College Republicans say Trump’s election has energized their group. But chapter secretary Kai Frenay said it’s also brought some dirty looks when people see the College Republican pin on his backpack.
“It’s kind of sad because they don’t know who I am as a person; they don’t even know if I voted for Trump or not," Frenay said. "Being a Republican on this campus has effectively become a label, ‘You’re the enemy.’”
Frenay sees Yiannopoulos, who has been visiting colleges around the country, as a provocative critic of campus politics.
“He’s an outspoken defender of a lot of conservative values,” Frenay said. “He doesn’t exactly respect political correctness," Frenay said.
Yiannopoulos’s online shop confirms this: he sells shirts that say, “Feminism is cancer,” “Don’t be poor,” “white male,” and “Don’t be a cuck,” short for “cuckold conservative.” He calls his current trek to American college campuses the “Dangerous Faggot Tour.” Yiannopoulos is openly gay.
Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer, after channeling racist tweets at actress Leslie Jones of "Ghost Busters" and Saturday Night Live. His other frequent targets include feminists and Muslims.
Jessie Gamble, College Republicans chapter president, said the timing of Yiannopoulos’ speech is a coincidence – Yiannopoulos had plans to visit Washington State University the day before. And the price was right.
“He didn’t charge a dime," Gamble said. "He said, ‘We’ve got our own tour bus, we’ll come.’ He just likes speaking, he just likes this kind of atmosphere, this kind of attention. So he was free.”
The Republican group will pay for the space and security.
A group petitioned University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce to block the event. But UW spokesman Norm Arkans said, "We respect the rights of all our student organizations to invite speakers of their choice, even if these speakers express ideas that are unpopular or offensive to many."