Ben Shapiro

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Ben Shapiro
Ben Shapiro by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Shapiro in 2016
Born Benjamin Aaron Shapiro
(1984-01-15) January 15, 1984 (age 34)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles (BA)
Harvard Law School (JD)
Occupation Political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, lawyer
Movement Conservatism
Spouse(s) Mor Toledano (m. 2008)
Children 2
Relatives Mara Wilson (cousin)[1]

Benjamin Aaron Shapiro (born January 15, 1984) is a Jewish-American neo-conservative political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, and lawyer. Politically, he has taken right-wing positions on some social issues, but has become a noted critic of Donald Trump[2] and of the alt-right movement.[3] They in return disparage him as a so-called cuckservative. He has spoken in favor of an interventionist foreign policy for the United States, favors limited Third World immigration into Western countries, and still wishes the USA could act as a proposition nation.[4][5]

He has written seven books, the first being 2004's Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth, which he started writing when he was 17 years old. Also at age 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the country.[6][7] He writes a column for Creators Syndicate, serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, which he founded, and hosts a daily political podcast called The Ben Shapiro Show. He is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the media watchdog group TruthRevolt.[8]

Shapiro is a proponent of a free market economy, and of limited social conservatism and decentralization of policy-making from the federal government to the states. He has been described by moderates as the "voice of millennial conservatives today" and a "provocative gladiator" for American conservatism.[9]

Alt-right commentators claim that Shapiro is part of the controlled opposition,[10] whose writings are allegedly encouraged by the established ruling class. While they don't agree with Shapiro's work, it is tolerated because it helps limit the range of politically acceptable discourse; also known as the Overton Window.[11]

Early life

Shapiro was born in Los Angeles, California. His family is Jewish, having immigrated in part from Russia. Skipping two grades (third and ninth), Shapiro went from Walter Reed Middle School to Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles where he graduated in 2000 at age 16.[12][6] He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, at age 20, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, and then cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007.[13] He then practiced law at Goodwin Procter. As of March 2012 he runs an independent legal consultancy firm, Benjamin Shapiro Legal Consulting, in Los Angeles.[6]

Career

File:Ben Shapiro by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Shapiro speaking at the 2018 CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland

As author

At age 17, while a student at UCLA, Shapiro became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States, which under California law required his parents to sign the contract.[14] By age 21, he had written two books, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth and Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future.[15]

In his 2004 book Brainwashed, Shapiro argues that students aren't exposed to a variety of viewpoints at universities and that those who don't have strong opinions will be overwhelmed by an atmosphere dominated by liberal instructors even if discussion is encouraged in classrooms.[16]

In 2011, HarperCollins published Shapiro's fourth book, Primetime Propaganda The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV, in which Shapiro argues that Hollywood has a left-wing agenda which it actively promotes through prime-time entertainment programming. In the book, the producers of Happy Days and M*A*S*H say they pursued a pro-pacifist, anti-Vietnam agenda in those series.[17] The same year Primetime Propaganda came out, Shapiro became a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.[18]

In 2013, Threshold Editions published Shapiro's fifth book, Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.[19]

As a journalist

On October 7, 2013, Shapiro co-founded the TruthRevolt U.S. news and activism website in association with the David Horowitz Freedom Center. As of March 7, 2018, TruthRevolt "closed up shop".[20] In 2012, Shapiro became editor-at-large of Breitbart News, a news and opinion website founded by Andrew Breitbart.[21] In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from his position as editor-at-large of Breitbart News following what he characterized as the website's lack of support for reporter Michelle Fields in response to her alleged assault by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's former campaign manager.[22][23]

Shapiro founded The Daily Wire in September 21, 2015. He is editor-in-chief as well as a host of his online political podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, broadcast every weekday.[24] As of November 2017, the podcast was downloaded 10 million times each month.[25]

On February 7, 2013, Shapiro published an article citing unspecified Senate sources who said that a group named "Friends of Hamas" was among foreign contributors to the political campaign of Chuck Hagel, a former U.S. Senator awaiting confirmation as Secretary of Defense as a nominee of President Barack Obama. In the article, Shapiro criticized the Obama administration for ignoring his questions about Hagel's foreign associations and called for full disclosure of Hagel's foreign ties.[26]

On February 20, Slate reporter David Weigel reported that he could not find any convincing evidence "Friends of Hamas" actually existed, based on personal interviews with Senate staffers, the conservative Center for Security Policy, and the U.S. Treasury Department Terror Sponsors list.[27] Shapiro told Weigel that the story he published was "the entirety of the information [he] had."[28]

Subsequently, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman reported on February 20 that he may have been the unwitting source of the "Friends of Hamas" allegation. Friedman said that the story arose in the course of questioning Republican aides over Hagel's connections to foreign terrorist groups, presuming that one of the aides had interpreted his asking about such political connections as evidence of their existence.[29] Shapiro responded by reporting that his source had averred that Friedman was not a source.[30][31]

Views

Shapiro has argued against interventionism in the Syrian Civil War, arguing that it would undercut America's foreign policy and create instability in the region. In 2013, Shapiro criticized the hawkish tone of Republican congressman,[who?] mockingly suggesting that "since the end of the Cold War, Republicans have apparently never met a military action they didn't support."[32]

Shapiro has opposed the immigration of Syrian refugees into Europe or the United States, arguing that their beliefs are incompatible with Western culture and identity.[33][34]

Iraq War

Shapiro has written several articles advocating for and defending the Iraq War. He has argued that war with Iraq was integral to the U.S. War on Terror, that it was right for America, and that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with oil.[35][36][37]

Israel

Shapiro has written that the Obama administration lacked sufficient support for Israel.[38] He has also criticized the passage of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran Deal, believing it would threaten the existence of Israel.[39]

UCLA BDS proposal

On February 25, 2014, the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) convened to consider a resolution for the university to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Shapiro appeared at his alma mater to deliver counterarguments to the resolution. Shapiro argued that the resolution constituted hypocrisy and selective moral outrage in targeting Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, which he described as far less egregious than the human rights violations carried out by other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and by groups such as the Palestinians themselves. He pointed to the differences between Israel and the rest of the countries in the Middle East as it relates to the treatment of sexual and religious freedom and diversity, and made the claim that the BDS Movement is fueled not by true concern for human rights but instead by antisemitism.[40] Following Shapiro's comments, the resolution was rejected. However, the Undergraduate Student Association Council eventually passed a BDS resolution in November, although UCLA did not adopt the measures proposed. The university has repeatedly stated it has no intention of divesting from any Israeli or Israel related companies.[41]

Modern liberalism

Shapiro's views have been condemned by The New York Times as "extremely conservative," but have been described as right-of-center, moderate, or even cuckservative by alt-right commentators. Shapiro accuses contemporary liberals of creating an imaginary "hierarchy of victimhood" and glorifying perceived victims, leading to identity politics; The Times describes this as his central talking point.[25] He believes, as he has argued in one of his books, that the left has used its dominance of cinema and TV to push its agenda.[25] He also believes that the election of Donald Trump was more a vote against liberals, and Hillary Clinton in particular, than in favor of Trump's brand of conservatism.[25]

Feud with the Alt-Right

Despite multiple challenges, Shapiro has declined to debate commentator Vox Day, whom Shapiro considers to be unacceptably right-wing and politically incorrect, tweeting in response "I don't run from dog crap or debate it."[42] Some of the proposed themes of the debate would have been numerous alleged neoconservative contradictions that appeared in his past columns, mostly regarding free trade and antisemitism. Accused of political cowardice by alt-right bloggers, Shapiro was also challenged on his long-standing support for Judeo-Christian values.

Islam and Muslims

In a YouTube video titled Ben Shapiro: The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority published by TruthRevoltOriginals, Shapiro estimates that there are presently eight hundred million radicalized Muslims out of the total Muslim population of 1.6 billion internationally.[43] Political fact-checking website Politifact gave the statement a rating of false.[44] Shapiro responded by criticizing Politifact, saying that they do not want to "draw any conclusion" and indicated that only right-wing sources are fact-checked.[45]

Universal Healthcare

Ben Shapiro strongly opposes Single-Payer/Universal Healthcare because he thinks it would disrupt the free market for healthcare and would lead to worse healthcare outcomes and shortages when it comes to providing healthcare. [46]

Other views

Shapiro holds that African-Americans were historically victims of injustice in the United States, but that they are not victims of widespread systemic injustice today.[25] As of November 2017, he supported lowering taxes on the very wealthy.[25] He is in favor of privatizing social security, criminalizing abortion, and repealing the Affordable Care Act.[25]

Campus lectures

Shapiro frequently speaks at a number of college campuses across the country, often to present his conservative viewpoints on what the cultural consensus considers to be unacceptably controversial subjects. He spoke at 37 campuses between early 2016 and late 2017.[25]

University of Missouri

In November 2015, in the wake of the protests at the University of Missouri, Shapiro was invited by the campus's chapter of the College Republicans, in conjunction with Young America's Foundation, to speak at the university. The speech, entitled "The Truth is a Microaggression", was critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, safe spaces, microaggressions, and other aspects of American college campuses and the behavior of modern college students.[47] The theater in which he spoke was filled to capacity as over 400 people attended, and the live-stream of the event was viewed by more than 130,000 people.[48]

California State University, Los Angeles

On February 25, 2016, Shapiro gave a speech at California State University, Los Angeles, entitled "When Diversity Becomes a Problem". Shapiro's speech focused on how the concepts of microaggressions and safe spaces were being used to suppress free speech in the name of diversity of skin color, while ignoring the value of diversity of thought.[49] In response to the announcement of the speech, hosted by the campus's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, student protesters demanded that the speech be cancelled, labeling it as "hate speech". The university's president, William Covino, eventually announced the cancellation of the speech three days before it was to take place, with the intention of rescheduling it so that the event could feature Shapiro debating someone with opposing viewpoints.[50] In response to the cancellation, Shapiro said he would be attending the event anyway, and several lawsuits were threatened against the university for canceling the speech. As a result, Covino ultimately backed down and allowed the speech to go on as planned.[51]

The day of the speech, hundreds of student protesters formed human chains to block the doors to the theater where the event was to be held, shoving away anyone who attempted to enter and starting several fights in the crowded lobby. Some students were ultimately able to enter the theater by being sneaked in through back doors, though the protesters soon found out and barricaded those doors as well. Shapiro eventually made it into the theater and began his speech, only for a fire alarm to be pulled by one of the protesters; Shapiro continued speaking regardless, calling Covino "cowardly" and referring to the protesters as "spoiled brat snowflakes" and "fascists".[52] After the speech ended, Shapiro had to be escorted out a secret exit by police and his own bodyguards, while those inside the theater were told that they could not leave since the protesters were preventing anyone from leaving. Only after Shapiro left did the protesters eventually disperse, and those inside the theater were allowed to exit.[53]

Three months after the CSULA incident, Young America's Foundation announced on May 19 that it was filing a lawsuit against the university (with Shapiro as one of the plaintiffs), claiming that the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the students were violated by Covino's attempted cancelation of the event, as well as the physical barricading of students from entering or leaving the event, and the encouragement of such actions by several campus professors.[54][55][56]

DePaul University

On November 15, 2016, Shapiro was invited to speak at DePaul University, at an event hosted by the school's chapters of the College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom. The event also featured feminist professor Christina Hoff Sommers and had a focus on the subject of free speech on American college campuses, particularly in the wake of the recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. However, partially due to a previous controversy when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at DePaul several months prior, the university officially banned Shapiro from attending the event, as a speaker or an audience member. Shapiro vowed to appear at the event regardless.[57] Upon his arrival, he was blocked from entering the venue by a DePaul public safety officer, who informed Shapiro that he would be arrested if he tried to enter the hall.[58] Shapiro then called Sommers, who was speaking during the event at that moment, and informed her that he would move to another building nearby where he would be allowed to speak. Sommers and the audience subsequently moved to that building to join Shapiro.[59]

The University of California, Berkeley

On September 14, 2017, Shapiro gave a speech at the invitation of the UC (Berkeley) student organization Berkeley College Republicans where he criticized identity politics along with those who use violence to suppress contrary views, whom he characterized as fascistic.[60][61] The event involved a large police presence which had been promised by Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ in her August letter that supported free speech. Together, the University and the city of Berkeley spent $600,000 on police and security for the event, which transpired with nine arrests but no major incident.[62][63]

Alleged victim of antisemitism

In May 2016, New York magazine claimed that right-wing opposition to Shapiro, including his limited support for US interventionist policies, globalism, and non-white immigration, was rooted in antisemitism.[64][65]

In an article in National Review, Shapiro wrote: "I've experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump's candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They've blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber."[66]

An article in The Washington Post quoted an Anti-Defamation League report that "focused in particular on the anti-Semitic tweets aimed at journalists, frequently those whose writing about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has displeased a large contingent of Twitter users who band together to attack these journalists online. The words most commonly found in the bios of the people who post these anti-Semitic attacks? 'Trump,' 'nationalist,' 'conservative,' 'American' and 'white' ... The target of the most anti-Semitic tweets, by far, was Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer who formerly worked for Breitbart and who does not support Trump."[67]

Personal life

Shapiro has three sisters. In 2008, he married Mor Toledano, an Israeli citizen of Moroccan descent.[68] Shapiro and his wife practice Orthodox Judaism.[69][70] Together, they have a daughter, born in 2014,[71] and a son, born in 2016.[72]

Works

See also

References

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