America’s Foremost Conservative Public Intellectual, everyone!
Wow. @benshapiro is selling a pre-workout pill.
It's essentially just creatine monohydrate, but 35 times more expensive than a high-quality creatine brand on Amazon. pic.twitter.com/hS7ZUjXaFT
— Alex Katz 🌭 (@Alex__Katz) August 20, 2018
In investigating Shapiro’s works, then, the first sign that he might not be a “philosopher” was that he didn’t seem especially interested in the central task of philosophy, namely the critical scrutiny of your own beliefs. Shapiro’s worldview is fixed and immovable. Watch the video of his answer on the racial wealth gap: when his black co-panelists laugh at his answer about culture, he does not think to himself “Hm, perhaps they know something I don’t know about what it is like to be black,” he thinks “They must be irrational and in need of my wisdom.” He doesn’t listen to anyone, he just confronts them.
My initial impressions were also soured by Shapiro’s casual bigotry. That may not be the wisest observation to lead with: I’m sure Shapiro would be very pleased with himself to hear me call him a racist. (Though Shapiro always looks somewhat pleased with himself.) Nothing could better prove his point: the left has no arguments, so they resort to calling people they dislike “racists.” And since he explicitly says that he isn’t a racist, what am I doing if not using the classic left-wing “bullying” tactic of dismissing your opponent as a nasty, bigoted individual?
But, well, I don’t know what else to call a statement like this: “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” (Shapiro followed it with the hashtag #SettlementsRock.) Arabs like to bomb crap and live in sewage. Perhaps I’m crazy. Perhaps there’s a definition of the word “racism” that wouldn’t include a statement like that. But since the statements “Black people are violent and want to live in sewage” or “Jews are violent and want to live in sewage” would both sound… somewhat racist, I don’t see how the conclusion can be avoided. What do you call a crass pejorative generalization about an entire ethnic group? I know one word, but I’m open to others. (By the way, it’s amusing that Shapiro can see Gazan children swimming in sewage and think “Wow, Arabs must just really have a thing for sewage,” a train of reasoning roughly akin to “Wow, Haitians must really love dying in earthquakes, since a lot of them seem to have done it.” Though I am reliably informed that Shapiro is a master of logic, so I am sure there is more to this than mere simple-minded prejudice.)
Shapiro’s thoughts about Arabs are all along similar lines. Usually conservatives are careful to draw a distinction: they are not condemning an ethnicity, but rather adherents to an ideology, namely Islamism. Not so with Shapiro: for him, the problem is not Islamism or even Islam writ large. It’s Arabs: “The Arab-Israeli conflict may be accurately described as a war between darkness and light. Those who argue against Israeli settlements—outposts of light in a dark territory—argue for the continued victory of night.” Arabs “value murder” while Israelis “value life,” and “where light fails, darkness engulfs.” Arabs are therefore, as an undifferentiated unit, a people of darkness. Palestinian Arabs are the worst of all: they are a “population rotten to the core… Palestinian Arabs must be fought on their own terms: as a people dedicated to an evil cause.” The “Arab Palestinian populace… by and large constitutes the most evil population on the face of the planet.” Since they’re “rotten to the core,” there’s no such thing as a good Arab: your evil is defined by your ethnicity, by being a member of the People of Darkness and Murder rather than the People of Goodness and Light. Again, it may just be my failure to understand Facts and Logic, but I am having trouble understanding how population-level generalizations about the moral characteristics of particular ethnic groups can be anything other than bigotry.