In a BBC interview that went viral, ‘conservative’ commentator, writer, and ‘intellectual’ Ben Shapiro cut the conversation short with interviewer Andrew Neil. He has since apologised for his conduct and to Neil, but it was a perfect showcase of a previous point I’ve made about the likes of Shapiro. What he and his followers consider “intellectual” is in fact unrivalled arrogance, with no small dash of hypocrisy.
Shapiro, in a recent book he wrote, expressed his annoyance at the lack of proper discourse in the United States, and wished that there was a chance to go back to civil debate and all that nice stuff. A worthy goal, and one that I would agree with him on if not for one small point: he appears to not agree with it himself.
Part of the reason Shapiro left the interview early is because he felt he was under attack from the ‘leftist’ BBC, which he claimed had never been unbiased and objective. The so called ‘attacks’ were questions that Neil presented in what others have called his style of questioning: critical and opposing. When Shapiro presented his views on abortion (he welcomed quite happily the laws in Georgia and Alabama; so much for his libertarian talk of no government intervention in people’s lives), Neil framed his questions in a way to make Shapiro defend his arguments and to consider a different point of view.
Neil, during the interview, stated clearly that he’d ask similarly hostile questions to a pro-choice guest, but was talked over by a frazzled Shapiro. Whenever Neil tried to provide examples of Shapiro himself engaging in the same ‘angry’ rhetoric that the commentator decried in the book, Shapiro ironically shot himself in the foot by reacting angrily and accusing the BBC of ‘obvious bias’. Rather than explaining his views (as disgusting as they are) on religion, Israel-Palestine, abortion, etc. like a real intellectual would, he pathetically resorted to an offensive stance, saying that Neil wouldn’t answer his questions. Someone tell Shapiro that’s not how interviews work; that’s a debate.
Shapiro’s is a career built on arrogance and a childish sense of intellectual dominance. Many videos online containing titles like “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS Liberal on Transgenderism”, for example, are usually him arguing with rather inexperienced college/university students or being fed questions from an equally reactionary Fox News. Pit him against anyone with a modicum of real intelligence, like Neil, or someone who actually knows what they are talking about, like Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky on the Israel/Palestinian topic, and he’s stuck.
When a man who tells people that abortion is barbaric gets upset when someone calls 10+ year jail terms for getting an abortion or having a miscarriage barbaric in turn, there’s no intellectual argument behind him. Shapiro denounces the LGBT agenda, the “militant Islamic movement”, the dumb socialists who don’t look at Venezuela enough, etc. and yet frequently backs everything he says by calling on his strong ‘Judeo-Christian values’. When your values are defending Israeli war crimes, or jailing women for daring to exercise control of their own bodies, then I couldn’t care less what religion you pretend to follow – they have no place in a rational debate.
No, religion cannot be used as a valid metric of morality. It is hypocritical to talk down the role of state power but, when it benefits you, advocate for it to further the interests of corporate and religious power. Your brand of tyranny over the population is not welcome, and your defence of it is merely arrogance masquerading as ‘misunderstood’ intellect.
I did like Neil’s occasional quip against Shapiro, a classic of British humour.
“There are no bucks to be made on BBC, unlike American broadcast Mr Shapiro.”
“…and thank you for showing that anger is not part of the American political discourse.”
I doubt Shapiro will be returning to the BBC any time soon. Fox News or a wild crowd in a US university hall might be more his speed.
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