Why Are Liberals Afraid Of Ben Shapiro?

Why Are Liberals Afraid Of Ben Shapiro?

We should not silence conservative speakers on college campuses, sacrificing freedom of speech in the process.


When I was a freshman in high school, I managed to piss off almost everyone who followed me on Instagram with one single post. I'd heard the old saying that there are two things you should never talk about publicly: politics and religion. But to me, this just didn't make sense; politics and religion were my two favorite things to talk about.

To be fair, the post was pretty offensive. The intention was to criticize the theory of Heaven and Hell but instead ended up publicly slamming Christianity and Islam, the two largest religions in the world. The way I phrased my argument was provocative and mean; it was not a shining example of civility. It ended with me publicly apologizing and deleting the original post.

In hindsight, I realize that my inflammatory language obscured the main point I was trying to make. However, I still think my point was valid. It bothered me that once people saw what I wrote and said "I'm offended!" they refused to even listen to the rational side of my argument.

The thing is, I think there can be incredible value in offensive speech. I don't think there is any idea that is so sacred that people shouldn't be allowed to challenge it.

Therefore, it bothers me to see so many instances of young liberals trying to prevent conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro from coming to college campuses.

Colleges are supposed to be a place where the free exchange of ideas can occur, where students are exposed to controversial thought that challenges their assumptions and are forced to reevaluate their own opinions. However, when liberals refuse to even allow a prominent conservative to express their ideas, the ideal of intellectual freedom is inherently undermined. As students, we are shutting down a conversation before it can even occur.

More disturbingly, we are refusing to listen to someone just because they have a different viewpoint than us. I think liberals often fall into the trap of assuming that our ideas are the absolute truth and anyone who dares to challenge our views is committing heresy. this is a very human response, but it is the wrong one. Arrogance is not a virtue. And when we refuse to engage with conservatives, we are retreating into our liberal bubbles and stymieing our own intellectual growth.

We are being closed-minded and this is antithetical to our liberal values. We as liberals are supposed to be open-minded. We are supposed to champion diversity, and diversity includes a diversity of thought. I hear liberals say, "I won't tolerate intolerance." But this is absurd. Tolerance means tolerance. If you only tolerate speech that you agree with, you are not being tolerant. Throughout history, progressives have been willing to challenge prevailing orthodoxies. We should not stop others from doing the same. We should not sacrifice freedom of speech at the altar for the sake of preserving our sacred cows.

Some liberals say that hate speech should not be allowed on college campuses. But the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that hate speech is free speech. In the classic On Liberty, John Stuart Mill describes how hateful speech can be useful to society because if people can see how awful these ideas are (whether they be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc.), then these ideas can be rejected. The public intellectual Jonathan Rauch has argued that hate speech has actually helped minority groups gain rights. In the context of gay rights, the speech of homophobic figures has shown the American public that homophobia is irrational and they have been increasingly willing to reject this nonsense. So the answer to hate speech is not censorship; it is more speech.

Recently, Ben Shapiro came to the George Washington University campus, which naturally generated some controversy. I disagree with many of the things Ben Shapiro says and I find his views about trans people to be incredibly offensive and dead wrong- but I will still defend his right to express his views. And the notion that minority groups need to be protected from Ben Shapiro's speech is ridiculous and frankly patronizing. LGBTQ+ people and people of color have survived centuries and decades of violent oppression; we can survive a talk by Ben Shapiro. I'm proud that at GW, liberals tried to engage Shapiro in intellectual debate rather than trying to shut his talk down. My roommate notably got into an argument with Shapiro about socialism, an exchange that went on for about 12 minutes where two sides of an economic argument were presented and defended- the free exchange of ideas at its finest.

We liberals have to ask ourselves— what are we really afraid of? Do we truly believe that allowing someone like Steve Bannon to speak on college campuses will convert people to his white supremacist ideology? And if we as liberals cannot respond to Steve Bannon's prejudice with our own rational arguments, or if we cannot have a rigorous debate with someone like Ben Shapiro, if we cannot engage in discourse and win the battle for ideas, then we have failed. Because in a free society, we must be willing to allow controversial, offensive, even hateful speech- and be confident that through our speech, our own ideas can prevail. This, after all, is the essence of liberty.

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An Open Pat On The Back To Full-Time Students Who Also Work

You really deserve an award, but this article will have to do.

It's pretty freaking hard.

“I can work nights and weekends, I'm a student," you told the manager during your interview.

So, what does he do? He schedules you most nights and weekends. This is OK. This is, after all, what you asked for. So you start working.

Class, class, work. Class, work. Class, no work tonight, you sleep and it feels like the first time in years. Class, homework, homework, homework. Class, class, work.

Before you know it, it's the weekend. There's a party. Your friend wants to see you. Your mom is calling you to see how you are.

But you are working all weekend.

You call your mom on your half hour break. She tells you are doing too much. She tells you that you should work less. Ask for less hours. Sleep more. Eat more. You will get sick.

You get out of work Friday night around 11 p.m. There is still so much night left!! You try to hit up that party. Sure, you will show up a little late, but at least you will make an appearance. At least you will get to see some of your friends. At least you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself. At least you will be able to have some fun. By the time you get ready and get there, people begin leaving. You begin to wonder why you came out in the first place.

“I'm sorry, I've been at work" becomes an all-too-familiar phrase.

But, but, but.

You really deserve a pat on the back, so here it is.

You've given up a lot. And you work crazy hard. Those long nights and hours are hard. A lot of kids your age don't work and rely solely on your parents. But you, you have taken it upon yourself to earn some money for yourself. You are a full-time student, and most of your free time goes toward working and supporting yourself.

You truly do not get the appreciation that you deserve.

But when you do get some time to go out, when you request a weekend off, you have some money to spend. You are never the guy who can't go out because they don't have enough money.

And of course, you will start saving. This is huge. You're going to graduate in debt (probably), and because you busted your butt during school and saved up, putting a crack in that debt will be a little easier for you.

You are a forward thinker, whether you realize it or not.

You are building responsibility, money management, and self-reliance skills, whether you realize it or not.

You are quite mature for your age, whether you realize it or not.

AND YOU deserve a pat on the back. So here it is.

You're incredible. You're amazing. Go get 'em.

Seriously, take a second to congratulate yourself for all your hard work.

And whatever you do, get some sleep, kid. And remember, don't work yourself too hard. Just hard enough so that you feel good, and rewarded, and happy.

You're the man. Keep killin' it, dude. Keep killin' it.

Cover Image Credit: Peter Bernik/123rf Stock Photo

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The 2020 Race Is Feeling The Bern

Everything you need to know about Bernie Sanders entering the presidential race.


This morning, February 19, 2019, Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders announced he is running for president once again.

Unlike his run in 2016, though, Sanders now joins a crowded field of progressive candidates, one of which is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In Sanders's own words, this campaign is "about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life". Sanders went on to say that this is a "pivotal and dangerous moment in American history," and "We are running against a President who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction".

In his interview with CBS, Sanders explained that it is "absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated", and described candidates whom he is running alongside as his "friends".

Regarding policy issues, his focus remains the same as in previous years, planning to focus largely on women's reproductive rights, lower prices for prescription drugs, and criminal justice reform.

Sanders is also widely recognized because of his goal of universal healthcare. His Medicare-for-all bill that was drafted in 2017 outlines the establishment of a "national health insurance program to provide comprehensive protection against the costs of health-care and health-related services". According to estimates, however, such a plan would increase federal spending by $2.5 trillion a year.

When it comes to education, Sanders plans to make preschool for all 4-year-olds free, aiming to fund this plan through tax increases on the wealthy as well as Wall Street transactions.

More widely acknowledged is his "College For All Act", which would provide $47 billion a year to states in order to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Additionally, the act would cut student loan interest rates nearly in half for undergrads.

In terms of social issues, Sanders is pro-choice when it comes to abortion rights and opposes policies which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Trump's push to ban transgender people from the military.

The New York Times discusses the idea that the political field of the 2020 run might leave Sanders a "victim of his own success", in that the multitude of Democratic candidates are embracing policies which Sanders championed in the last race.

"Ironically, Bernie's agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party's message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade," said talk show host Bill Press.

Moreover, victories by women, minorities, and first-time candidates in the 2018 midterm elections suggest that "fresh energy" is preferred by Democrats, which potentially poses a challenge for Sanders.

Conversely, though, Sanders is also starting off with certain advantages, such as a "massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined".

Donald Trump responded to Sanders's announcement by saying, "First of all I think he missed his time, but... I like Bernie. He sort of would agree on trade... the problem is he doesn't know what to do about it. But I wish Bernie well."

By and large, Sanders is another strong candidate, and it will be interesting to see if he can generate the same energy and support now that he did in 2016.

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