Opinion: Shapiro? Why not listen?

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

By Toni Caushi
BU News Service

During the last two weeks, there has been much debate within the Boston University community regarding Ben Shapiro’s proposed visit to the university. The Boston University chapter of conservative organization Young Americans for Freedom have petitioned for Shapiro to speak at the university. But another petition urging the university not to let him speak on grounds of bigotry and homophobia that he, according to the petition, staunchly stands for, immediately emerged.

Ben Shapiro’s philosophy is a decisive conservative voice on the most delicate current issues in American society. His clear-cut statements about abortion, transgender issues and other left-wing issues have brought him notoriety. He calls the left “bullies,” and never comes to a debate with objectivity, only with powerful right jabs. 

Shapiro ‘s arguments are heavily fueled by his Twitter-pinned motto “facts don’t care about your feelings.” His view of our society gets the blood of left-winged American youth boiling. Those who praise him see him as a voice that speaks what is true and simply common sense.

Shapiro is all for capitalism, recognizes homosexuality is not a choice and fashions tremendous prowess in understanding the constitution because of his Harvard Law degree and experience as an attorney. Furthermore, he is always willing to debate anyone about anything.

Those who loathe him see a clear picture of a person who’s full of hatred and a menace for human rights. He absolutely opposes abortion and equates it with murder, categorically denies the concept of being transgender, opposes gay marriage (although this stems from beliefs of complete separation of church and state), and almost always offers a rigid rebuttal to any posed question or argument. 

Nevertheless, why not let him come? 

Since 2016, Shapiro has given up his direct association with any figures of the Republican right. He left Breitbart News, ending his professional affiliation with Steve Bannon, who had become the executive chairman of the magazine after the death of founder Andrew Breitbart in 2012. At the time, Shapiro wrote that he felt ethically forced to leave the magazine because, “under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right.” He further disassociated with white supremacy after admitting he did not vote for President Trump in 2016. 

His focus since then has been the youth and future of the U.S. He goes from one university to another to promote his beliefs. However, it’s not rare for his principles to encounter disapproval among American colleges. Some universities and colleges have chosen to cancel his speeches. On other campuses, he is often heavily protested and in the cases where he is granted a podium, he has had to enter buildings under the protection of bodyguards.

Petitions like the one spreading across the BU campus are riddled with accusatory and extreme adjectives that appeal to aggressiveness. Statements like “Racist Hatemonger Ben Shapiro Not Welcome at Boston University!” unfairly display a face of liberalism that often attracts ridicule. Among voters, the political right has made the adjective “triggered” almost synonymous with “inflammatory reaction from the political left” because of brash remarks like those in the petition. 

Shapiro does hold beliefs that are expressed in a disrespectful manner to other ideologies and the people that hold them. His pragmatic approach to American society does come off as strong to the left, and it does sound like it intends to offend and reprimand. Statements like this 2017 tweet paint the picture:

But why not see his visit as a chance to welcome a well-informed and difficult-to-counter body of arguments? The petition stands for exclusiveness and banning, phenomena that would put Boston University in the same basket as other institutions that can easily be stigmatized as intolerant. 

Shapiro’s steadfastness on his creeds would serve as a diverse opinion that would help create a full picture of the current socio-political climate of our country. The majority of students are at a crucial age during which they need to develop a sense of ideological malleability to avoid ending up trapped in one-mindedness and disdain. After all, the culture of Boston University is one of acceptance, embrace and open-mindedness for anyone, including controversial but prominent figures like Ben Shapiro.

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