In an extraordinary piece for the National Review, right wing Youtube star Ben Shapiro made the amazing claim that conservatives are better than liberals at self-policing their crazies.
This may come as a surprise to those who have closely observed the Republican Party morph into a rabidly racist, science denying, fundamentalist cult that has been hijacked by a deranged fascist. But not Shapiro, who maintains it is the Left that does a terrible job of ousting their crazies, while the right "spends an inordinate amount of time self-policing."
In Shapiro's defense, he appears to be talking specifically about the "Institutional Right" -- an entity he evidently sees as being separate from the Alt Right and Donald Trump. But even then, his claims don't stack up against the evidence. Shapiro uses the news that the conservative Claremont Institute shut down a white-supremacist listserve after the non-racist members of the list asked to be removed. "Within an hour, the Institute killed the listserv altogether" wrote Shapiro, as if denouncing White Supremacy were the noblest of causes. "The story prompted spasms of glee from the left-leaning press," wrote Shapiro, who then ranted about the slandering of "mainstream institutions on the right":
Time and again, mainstream institutions on the right are slandered as homes for racism, sexism, and miscellaneous other bigotry, even when those institutions work to root out such bigotry. Take, for example, National Review itself. William F. Buckley spent an enormous amount of political capital with his own base — and with his own funders — when he decided to throw the John Birchers out of the house. National Review took another hit with many of its fans when the publication decided to throw out John Derbyshire in 2012. None of this stops the Left from maligning National Review as a home for right-wing evil, or from portraying nefarious characters like Kevin Williamson as indicative of that evil.
As Jonathan Chait neatly lays out, this claim is entirely bogus. He writes:
Even according to a friendly account from Buckley’s National Review biographer, Buckley did no such thing. He calculated that the John Birch Society and its huge membership was too important to risk alienating. So, instead, Buckley (gently) criticized the organization’s president, the bonkers Joseph Welch, while trying to stay on good terms with the group and its members.
Facts and history be damned, Shapiro then goes on to attack the Left for "mainstreaming" the crazies:
Yet the Left almost never throws out thinkers for ideological reasons. Leftist institutions will occasionally oust people who openly promote violence or involve themselves in outright fabrication. But when is the last time you saw a leftist outlet say of a leftist columnist, “That view is simply outside the mainstream”? Open Communism is fine; pure identity politics is fine. It’s not difficult to imagine a leftist listserv celebrating Charles Johnson’s words with the races reversed: “Heaven forbid that some thinkers . . . think that the US of A should become majority minority!” That position is actually rather mainstream on the traditional Left. The same is true with regard to hot-button issues such as abortion (Shout Yours Today!) and the First Amendment (it’s being weaponized, so we must curb it!) and anti-Semitism (see Sarsour, Linda). The Left doesn’t throw its radicals out. It mainstreams them.
There are a number of things worth noting here, the first being one of blatant false equivalence. To compare White Supremacists with identity politics advocates is completely absurd. I am not a fan of identity politics, but I have conversed intelligently and respectfully with those who are. Their critiques of racialism in America are interesting and at least worth listening to.
Shapiro mentions Communism as being within the mainstream Left, but how many prominent Communist columnists have jobs in mainstream outlets? How many Communist professors are there in American universities? How many active politicians? They don't need ridiculing because they don't exist (Shapiro conveniently provides no evidence for them either).
White Supremacists on the other hand, espouse an ideology based on racial hierarchy and the suppression of minorities in order to maintain their privileged position in society. The ideology is synonymous with radical authoritarian ultranationalism, and is predicated on the use violence to maintain order (I mean, who would you rather have around your children -- a White Supremacist, or someone who insists on using politically correct gender pronouns?).
Conservatives like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson love to make the claim that leftist ideologues are just as dangerous as those on the right -- but the evidence simply does not support their claims, particularly not in America. Identity politics advocates and Communists have close to no political power whatsoever in this country, and their supporters have shown no inclination towards violence. Those on the right have, however, shown a proclivity towards extreme acts of violence. How many Antifa members have driven cars into crowds of peaceful protestors? How many identity politics advocates have shot up schools based on their hatred of Jews?
Ben Shapiro seems to believe that White Supremacy is not part of mainstream or "Institutional" conservatism, but the election of Donald Trump proves otherwise. This was a candidate who rose to fame by implying President Obama was a Muslim not born in America , then ran a viciously anti-immigrant campaign using every racist dog whistle in the book. Now in power, Trump has stacked his administration with a truly mind boggling array of conmen, nasty bigots, and racists. A stunning report in The Atlanticrecently highlights the troubling connections between White Supremacist groups and the Trump administration after a Homeland Security official was forced to resign due to his links to white nationalist activists. Despite all of this, Trump's approval rating amongst Republican voters is a whopping 88%.
Shapiro is right that there are kooks and conspiracy theorists on the Left, and perhaps they are given too much latitude by others on their side of the political spectrum (certainly not us though). But his claim that conservatives do a fantastic job of self regulating their nutjobs is frankly ridiculous. Conservatives have done such an atrocious job of getting rid of their crazies that the Republican Party is now completely controlled by Donald Trump and his idiot friendly brand of racism, misogyny and xenophobia. Conservatism in America is now completely synonymous with Donald Trump, and to pretend otherwise is to deny reality.
Ben Shapiro isn't a stupid person, and has been a fairly outspoken critic of president Trump, so why he decided to pen this ludicrous piece is perplexing to say the least. He has watched his brand of conservatism in America disintegrate almost over night, so perhaps he is still unable to come to terms with the bleak reality he and others like him are facing and is lashing out at the left to make himself feel better. But the truth is, the GOP is now the party of Trump -- a crazy, racist brand of conservatism that feeds of off stupidity and hatred. And it is never going back.