An Alt-Right White Supremacist came to Berkeley seeking chaos and upheaval.
At least according to Leftists – and U.C. Berkeley’s Administration.
In other words, Ben Shapiro, a conservative, came to Berkeley to deliver a speech.
Berkeley’s Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Paul Alivisatos, was so concerned he felt compelled to send out a letter several days prior to Shapiro’s speech. He offered counseling services for those affected:
Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty:
We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:
RefuseFascism.org, an affiliate of Antifa, organized a formal protest titled, The Battle for Berkeley: The Fascist Ben Shapiro Speaks.
But this time, Antifa and Blac Bloc members were forbidden to hide behind their normal coverage of masks. They were warned not to carry weapons.
The Berkeley Police were actually allowed to do their jobs.
Berkeley has allowed Antifa to disrupt free speech and engage in ongoing acts of violence. However, after the attention Antifa received in the wake of Charlottesville, Berkeley Administration knew they would be subject to media coverage.
If you are unfamiliar with Antifa, you may find out a bit more here.
Berkeley lifted a 20-year ban on police using pepper spray. Walls and barriers were erected.
Berkeley paid more than $600,000 for police security. Shapiro himself paid $15,000 in security costs.
Students erected banners in advance of Shapiro’s speech:
— Doug Sovern (@SovernNation) September 14, 2017
— Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) September 14, 2017
It seemed a bit extreme given the speaker:
The “birthplace of free speech” is paying $600K on security bc students can’t handle hearing a 5’9″ Jewish man’s opinions. #BenAtBerkeley
— Pardes Seleh (@PardesSeleh) September 14, 2017
Who is Ben Shapiro?
Well, he’s a 33 year-old Orthodox Jew, married with two children.
He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles at the age of 20, and then cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007. He practiced law at Goodwin Procter. He has written seven books, the first being 2004’s Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth, which he started writing when 17 years old. He is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire.
Shapiro is a Never-Trumper and has been a consistent critic of President Trump.
Claims of Shapiro being a White Supremacist seem a bit odd given his lengthy public history of attacking Supremacist groups.
The Anti-Defamation League stated Shapiro was the number one recipient of White Supremacist Anti-Semitism on the internet among journalists in 2016.
To my knowledge, no one has ever heard him utter a racist statement.
None of these facts stopped the usual Leftist rhetoric:
Suspected white supremacist Ben Shapiro, who tries to mask his racist rhetoric by claiming to be jewish, is in Berkeley now #BenAtBerkeley
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) September 14, 2017
Shapiro is often a target because he is known for speaking hard truths – about everyone and everything.
His pinned tweet says it all:
Facts don’t care about your feelings.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 5, 2016
As for Shapiro’s actual speech, you can find the Full Transcript here. I will run through the salient highlights.
He noted some changes:
I spoke here last year, some of you may remember…in February 2016.
It was a packed house; I had two security guards; that was it. No violence, no nothing, and now we are spending well into six figures so that I can say many of the same things.
He noted the reasons:
It’s because there’s a pathetic new movement arising all over the country, from Sacramento to Berkeley to Dallas to Charlottesville. That movement says that speech is violence, and must be treated as such.
He noted the hypocrisy:
Fascism is the phenomenon whereby people believe that they have the capacity to ram their beliefs down your throat at the point of a gun or say the point of a baton or by throwing Molotov cocktails. That’s what fascism truly is.
Fascism is more of a tactic than it is an ideology. It’s sort of vague in terms of ideology; there are people on the Left who are fascist, people like Stalin, and then you’ve had people who are on the European Right, like Hitler, who was fascist, who was actually closer to the traditional American Left than he would be to the traditional American Right.
He noted his position:
I have been spending my entire career standing up against fascism, and the idea that an overreaching government that uses the power of the gun in order to compel people to do what they want.
Antifa is fascist; I am not a fascist.
He noted the Left’s embrace of labels:
This is the way the Left works: if you don’t agree with them, everyone is a white supremacist. You’re a Nazi, Nazis should be punched, and therefore it’s totally fine to stand outside and try to shut down events if you can get away with it. They’re not getting away with it tonight because the police have been allowed to actually do their jobs.
He noted the correct position on the use of force:
We all agree that violence should be out-of-bounds, and if you’re on the Left and you don’t agree with that, let me suggest to you that you don’t belong living in a civilized society, because a civilized society is based on the premise that the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
He noted the Leftist views that allow Antifa to exists:
Antifa couldn’t go anywhere without an ideology that runs broader than Antifa, without a group of people willing to look the other way.
It’s a view that America is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad place.
He noted the truth about our country:
The truth is that America is an incredible place. It’s the greatest place in the history of the world. The freest, most prosperous country, the most tolerant country in the history of planet Earth. This country is an amazing place full of opportunity. Nobody, by and large, cares enough about you to stop you from achieving your dreams.
He noted the truth about opportunities:
In a free country, if you fail, it’s probably your own fault. If it is somebody else’s fault, if somebody is actually trying to throw up obstacles in front of you in a way that is unjust and bigoted, point out the specific instance so we can all side with you.
He noted the role of Universities:
Unfortunately, on college campuses, and for the Left more broadly, there’s been this notion that America is bad, and the reason that you fail is because America has historically been very bad.
We have a entire hierarchy of intersectionality that’s been built by the Left to tell you whether your views are legitimate or not; the more victimized you are the more legitimate your views are.
He noted the reasoning behind intersectionality:
The logic of intersectionality, because it suggests that the value of your opinion lies in your ethnic identity and your group identity, the idea is that if I attack your ideas, if I say that you have bad ideas, what I am really doing is attacking you personally; I’m really attacking your identity.
This is why you see the dolts outside shouting that speech is violence, because they think that I am actually doing them violence when they don’t hear me.
This university engages in precisely this sort of damaging attitude; so at the same time they are willing to allow the police to fight Antifa, they are fostering an attitude that says that certain types of speech are violence, which is the gas in the tank for groups like Antifa, it’s the gas in the tank for the hard-Left.
He noted the necessary role of free discussion:
I assume you can handle disagreement. If, in fact, you cannot handle disagreement, you are making your life harder, and you are making your life worse, and you are making the country worse. You’re driving political polarization by failing to engage on a level of discussion.
He then moved on to idea of income victimization:
Let’s start with the idea that poor people in America are victimized. This is sort of the Bernie Sanders case: income inequality is the root of all evil. This is Antifa’s case: that communism or anarchism would be a better solution then say, a free and civil society that’s raised half the world out of abject poverty.
Income equality is not the big problem; nobody rich is making you poor. Bill Gates did not make you poor; Bill Gates provided you a product and if you bought it, that is your fault.
The upper middle class grew from 12% of Americans in 1979 to 30% as of 2014. That is a massive growth in the upper middle class. The rich are not making you poorer, they are paying your salary.
American income mobility, by the way, is just as strong as European countries with far more redistribution. Income mobility drops only when you drop out of high school or you have a baby out of wedlock. This is what makes you poor.
Then racial victimization:
You’d be a fool not to acknowledge, or a liar, not to acknowledge the history of racism in America. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Now we’re talking about now.
You cannot fix past injustices with current injustices. The only way to fix past injustices is with individual freedom. That’s it.
The idea that black people in the United States are disproportionately poor because America is racist; that’s just not true, at least not in terms of America’s racism today keeping black people down. It’s just not the case.
If that were the case then you’d have to look at group income, and decide based on group income who’s been victimized the most, and who the country was built for. By that standard, the country was built by Asians, because the racial group with the highest median income in the United States is Asians.
The Constitution was not written by a bunch of people who speak Korean.
Because the Constitution is a document of freedom, not a document of ethnicity.
He noted the surefire path to income mobility:
Here are the three rules that you need to fulfill as a person before you can start complaining about your life failures being the result of somebody else’s actions. Number one, you need to finish high school. Number two: you need to get married before you have babies. Number three: You need to get a job.
That’s it. You do those things you will not be permanently poor in the United States of America.
You point out to me an individual instance of racism, I will stand next to you and fight it, but if you whine about America? No good.
He noted some facts:
According to the Brookings Institute, 2% of Americans who followed these rules are in poverty. 75% have joined the middle class.
What about racism? 71% of poor families with children are unmarried. The poverty rate among non-married white families was 22% in 2008; that same year the poverty rate among black married couples was less than 7%.
But what happened to racism? Why weren’t those black married couples poorer than the single white moms?
Because it doesn’t have to do with color; it has to do with life decisions.
He addressed the non-existent gender gap:
Hillary Clinton is going around whining about there’s a glass ceiling, and she couldn’t break through it, and it’s all because of sexism, it’s not because she was the world’s worst candidate and a pretty appalling human being; no, it was because everybody is a sexist.
We hear in this context very much about the “wage gap,” the idea that women are paid significantly less than man, 72 cents on the dollar. That’s absolute sheer nonsense, it is absolute nonsense. In 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in America, women make 8% more than men do in their peer group. That wage gap is growing, not shrinking
At colleges, 55% of people in colleges are women; that gap is getting larger, not smaller; 58% of all graduate degrees go to women. The majority of voters are women. If we are living in a place where women are vastly victimized by men, I’d really like to see that place.
He then addressed White Supremacists and the Alt-Right:
The alt-right are a group of people who believe that ideology and ethnicity are inextricably intertwined, just like the identity politics Left. On the identity politics Left, if you’re a black person who is a leftist, you’re a leftist because you’re a black person. On the identity politics Right, Western civilization was not built by people with good ideas, it was built by people with white skin. And that means that people who don’t have white skin cannot properly assimilate into Western civilization. This has no grounding in reality.
According to the alt-right, because ideology and race are inextricably intertwined, they must have a white identity politics all their own. If there’s a group of people who are fighting for the group identity politics of blacks or of women, or of gays and lesbians, then there has to be a white group that fights back on behalf of the white race.
Western civilization is not built on race. Freedom, personal responsibility, separation of powers, God-given rights protected by a government elected with the consent of the governed — these are the values of Western civilization.
He noted the true scope of the White Supremacist problem:
Let’s be straight about this: this is, like 10,000 people across the country. This is not a million people; this is not ten million people; this is not 63 million people; this is not 200 million “deplorables.” It’s a very small select group of absolutely terrible people who believe absolutely terrible things.
But they’re getting a lot of attention and coverage right now, because we live in a reactionary moment. A lot of the people are reacting to the identity politics of the Left by making nice with the alt-right.
He then moved towards solutions:
It is not enough to stand against bad ideologies; you must also stand for a good ideology. You must stand for a good philosophy. You cannot stand with bad people just because you think those bad people make your enemies cry. The enemy of your enemy in a country where we’re all supposed to be friends is not only bad strategy, it destroys the country wholesale.
He noted the necessary role of police:
Let’s start with the campus thuggery, the way that you solve all of this is by letting the police do their jobs. Administrators need to let the police do their jobs. None of this would have gone anywhere if, back in February, they had allowed the police to do their jobs, and arrest everyone who even hinted at violence.
People who get violent should be arrested and they should spend time in jail, and the authorities have a responsibility to allow the police to do their jobs.
He noted the need to avoid identity politics:
You have to stop seeing everybody in America as an enemy who despises you based on identity. They don’t care about you; you’re not that important a human. Not that many of us know each other; not that many of us care about each other; we care about our families; we care about our friends; and we certainly don’t want to stop each other.
We mostly want to be treated civilly, and we can all do that if we stop looking into each other’s eyes and seeing a potential enemy instead of seeing somebody who’s just a person.
He noted the need to avoid claiming victimization:
Stop seeing yourself as a victim, because in order to see everybody else as an enemy, which justifies your violence and hate against them, you have to see yourself as their victim.
America is the greatest country in human history. You are not a victim. If you are a victim of something, you need to show me what you are a victim of and I will stand beside you. But do not blame the freest, most civil society in the history of planet Earth for your failures, because that’s on you.
He then closed:
Now, was that so rough? Did we need $600,000 of security to hear all of that? I have a feeling that the majority of people protesting the speech have never heard of me.
But the idea that they’re out there protesting, they’re out there maybe getting violent, apparently four people were arrested for carrying weapons already; the idea that all that is happening is indicative of the fact that we have stopped seeing each other as individuals.
We are all individuals.
I’m an individual with a particular point of view. I am not a cardboard cutout for you to call a white supremacist; I’m not a cardboard cutout for you to call a Nazi; and neither is anybody else in this room.
Get to know people. Get to know their views. Discuss. Debate. That is what America is all about.
I do think that America can see a better day, because I think we’re in a dark moment right now, but I think we can get to a brighter moment if we stop seeing each other as members of groups and identifying as members of groups, primarily, and instead see each other as individuals, made in God’s image, one with equal value to another in God’s eyes, and if we do that, America will see a resurgence.
It was a great speech rooted in hard facts.
I don’t agree with Shapiro on everything – especially when it comes to President Trump.
But I absolutely agree with him on his underlying conservative viewpoints and his philosophical grounding in our Constitution.
And I agree with everything I have highlighted from his speech.
Here is the video of the full event. Shapiro’s speech starts at 34:15:
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