Confronted by a young man at the Q&A after his Ferris State University speech who accused him of lacking empathy for others, Daily Wire Editor-In Chief Ben Shapiro turned the tables on the questioner, pointing out that Shapiro's perspective was more empathetic toward others than those who encouraged the others to consistently view themselves as victims.
The exchange is below, followed by the video:
Young man: You’ve been saying a lot about how, again, how like, all these people are claiming that they’re victims. For you, as a white male, have you ever tried putting yourself in these people’s shoes? Have you ever tried to look from their standpoint?
Shapiro: Sure. But I don’t know what that means because every individual has a different standpoint. Colin Powell’s kid is not the fellow who just spoke. You know, this idea that, the idea that, that, I don’t know, when we say, “Put yourself in somebody else’s shoes,” there’s actually a fascinating study about this: it says, “Empathy is bad politics.” Sympathy is good politics; empathy is bad politics.
Young man: Hold on: what I mean is: have you ever looked at the world through their eyes? Do you know what it’s like to be gay or black or be discriminated?
Shapiro: Okay. So as far as discrimination, I don’t claim victimhood status even though I was the number one target of anti-Semitism on the Internet last year. Okay? I’m not discriminated against in the United States. I’m very free here; I do really well. As far as the idea that the best way to do politics, or the best way to make public policy or the best way to discuss politics in public is to walk in someone else’s shoes, see through somebody else’s eyes, that’s true at a very rudimentary level; you try to understand somebody’s problems, but the idea that that is the basis for in public policy –in law, there’s a phrase in law, it’s called “hard cases make bad law.” The idea is that if you have too much sympathy for the person who’s in front of you, you end up making bad overall decisions. And there have been studies on this, about empathy in politics. Empathy actually leads to bad policy because you empathize, while you’re empathizing for the person whose shoes you’re standing in, you’re forgetting about the effects of the public policy you’re recommending on the other million people the public policy actually impacts.
And so, if the implication is that my perspective is coming from a lack of empathy or a lack of sympathy, I utterly disagree. I think that my perspective is coming from the ultimate sympathy, which is I want to see people succeed in the society, and the way to make people fail in the society is by inculcating in them, from the time they’re five, that they are destined to fail in a society that discriminates against them.