The Corner

Culture

In Defense of Ben Shapiro’s Bravery

In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Jane Coaston accuses conservative commentator Ben Shapiro of exhibiting “hollow bravery” during his much-publicized speeches on campus. Coaston outlines what she considers to be Shapiro’s trick:

Set up a speech in a progressive bastion, ideally a college campus full of coastal elites who have never left their bubble. Spar with snowflakes who are offended by something he says about race or gender and perhaps even believe he never should have been invited in the first place. Post the exchange on the internet and use it as proof that the cultural consensus is stacked dramatically against conservatives.

She continues:

What Mr. Shapiro does on campus is shadow boxing meant to pander to his conservative fans whose values dominate mainstream American culture. If he wanted to be genuinely brave, he’d challenge some of the wrongheaded ideas held by his right-wing fans.

Coaston is right that some campus speakers employ this tactic, and to the irritation of many other conservatives who want our message to be taken seriously. But Shapiro cannot be counted among this group. On the contrary, his speeches are popular less because he takes on “liberal snowflakes” and more because he is reasoned and rational and fair. Moreover, the claim that Shapiro doesn’t challenge wrongheaded right-wing ideas is simply incorrect. Just two weeks ago on NRO, he criticized Trump’s statement on the National Anthem protests. In February of last year on his news website, the Daily Wire, he criticized Republicans’ support of confirming a right-wing nominee to the Supreme Court, preferring instead a nominee who will defend the Constitution alone. And, of course, he has rebuffed the alt-right frequently and with vim. 

His March 2016 decision to leave his position as editor-at-large of Breitbart, though, might be the strongest piece of evidence. From his statement on the decision: 

Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda . . . 

Perhaps what Coaston means is that Shapiro refuses to challenge ideas she believes to be wrongheaded.

Most Popular

Culture

Jussie Smollett Changes His Story Again

The actor Jussie Smollett continues to talk about the alleged January 29 attack on him during a frigid night in Chicago, giving Good Morning America his fullest description yet of his claims. It differs substantially from what he told police initially after the alleged assault. Smollett told GMA that the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

We’ll Regret This

Mitch McConnell says the president will sign the budget deal and he will also declare a national emergency to build the wall, as I expected. We’ll see the legal justifications he uses, but as a political and constitutional matter this is a long-term disaster. Oh, it might be good for Trump according to the ... Read More