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Progressive students at Florida State University (FSU) are attacking Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus of The Daily Wire and host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” ahead of a planned speech on campus.
Shapiro is expected to speak on November 15 at the Tucker Civic Center’s Exhibition Hall in front of a capacity 1,500-person audience. Tickets to the event, which is free to enter, were quickly claimed after they were made available, partly due to bot attacks. The event’s organizers, FSU College Republicans and FSU’s Institute of Politics, plan to have a standby line for guests without tickets to fill the seats that were taken by bots, according to Florida Politics.
“The past three executive boards have worked to bring Ben Shapiro to Tallahassee and this year Young America’s Foundation has chosen Florida State to host,” the College Republicans said in a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“We are excited for this opportunity and can’t wait for Ben to share conservative ideas with FSU students and the Tallahassee community.”
Ahead of Shapiro’s speech, FSU’s branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a socialist college group, released a statement condemning Shapiro as “violently racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic.” The statement did not cite any examples to support its claims. SDS is also aiding another campus progressive group, Students for Justice in Palestine, plan a protest for the day Shapiro is scheduled to speak.
SDS called Shapiro as well as The Daily Wire “far-right” despite the conservative commentator being the top target of antisemitism on Twitter among journalists in 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League. SDS also took issue with Shapiro’s stance against Critical Race Theory, which is rooted in Marxism and suggests that most U.S. institutions today are rooted in racism, being taught in schools.
SDS concluded its statement calling on FSU President Richard McCullough to cancel the event to prove the university’s commitment to “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
The university has remained committed to allowing the event to take place. FSU spokeswoman Amy Farnum-Patronis told the Tallahassee Democrat that FSU “is committed to promoting an environment where the entire community can freely discuss and exchange different beliefs and opinions.”
“FSU encourages recognized student organizations to invite different individuals and groups to speak on campus, and they have the right to do so, even if other students disagree with the ideas that may be presented,” she added.
Read SDS’s complete statement condemning Shapiro below:
On November 15, Florida State University, FSUGOP, and YAF will host far-right media figure Ben Shapiro at the Tucker Civic Center. This is extremely concerning, as Shapiro has a long history of being violently racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic. From arguing that homosexuality should remain in the DSM as a mental illness to staunchly reinforcing strict gender binaries on all aspects of society, Shapiro has shown that he stands against true freedom of expression and that his presence is antagonistic to the LGBTQ+ community, both on and off-campus. As a contributor and editor of far-right publications like Breitbart and Daily Wire, Shapiro has affirmed white supremacy by pushing back against “Critical Race Theory” (in other words, a correct telling of US History) and decrying systemic racism as a baseless belief. Shapiro is also a steadfast defender of the settler-colonial Israeli apartheid state, which has been engaged in the displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians for decades.
In light of recent acts of racism and hate speech on FSU’s campus, the presence of Ben Shapiro should absolutely not be tolerated by students, faculty, and administration.
SDS condemns the university’s decision to allow Ben Shapiro to spread reactionary propaganda on campus. Additionally, we call on all progressive student organizations to stand in opposition to the platforming of this racist commentator. For too long FSU’s administration has encouraged racism, discrimination, and hate in the FSU community; this must end now! President McCullough claims to care about equity, diversity, and inclusion. If this is true, he should have no problem fulfilling the demands of Students for a Democratic Society: do not allow Ben Shapiro to appear on FSU’s campus on November 15 or any other day. No Fascists on our campus!