On Thursday night, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro gave his long-awaited speech at the University of California, Berkeley. It was a frontal assault on both political extremes, the hard-Left, as exemplified by Antifa, and the alt-right. The speech titled, “Say No To Campus Thuggery,” was also a call for Americans to see each other as individuals, rather than as members of various identity groups, and was also threaded with one of Shapiro’s constant themes: the need for people to stop viewing themselves as victims and take control of their own lives.
The complete transcript is below:
Thank you. Thank you so much. I only wish the administration had allowed us to fill up the rest of these seats, which we certainly would have.
One fan shouted out, “I love you, Ben!” Shapiro responded, “Love you right back!”
First of all, I have to thank Berkeley; I have to say, conservatives have done something amazing; they have achieved something incredible: if you look outside there is K-bar everywhere, they’ve built, basically these structures that keep Antifa from invading the premises. So that means that Berkeley has actually achieved building a wall before Donald Trump did.
After the laughter subsided, Shapiro continued:
Thank you all for being here, because obviously braving the idiots outside is not always easy: their speech is apparently violence, because my speech is violence, all speech is violence, so thank you for braving the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune by walking into a building. Congratulations to you.
Thanks to Fred Allen; thanks to Young America’s Foundation, and the Berkeley College Republicans for their courage.
Thanks to the police; thank you to the police, who have done an amazing job.
Shapiro then led the audience in applauding the police.
These are the folks who stand between civilization and lawlessness. I saw the videos of business owners having to shutter up their windows today early; Bank of America blocking off its ATMs because they were afraid Antifa was going to break them, the only people who are standing between those ATMs and Antifa are the police, and all they get from the Left is a bunch of crap. That’s all they get from the Left, but these are the heroes who stand between us and darkness, so thank them.
That led to a twenty-second ovation, followed by chants of “USA! USA!”
So I have a few other thank-you’s: I want to say thank you to the morons who put up that sign across the way that says, “We say no to your white supremacist bullshit.” I say thank you because I also say no to white supremacist bullshit. And if you stick around long enough in this speech, you will hear me do exactly that. The problem is I also say no to your identity-politics bullshit.
Thanks to Antifa, and the supposed anti-Fascist brigade, for exposing what the radical Left truly is; all of America is watching because you guys are so stupid. It’s horrifying, I am grateful, and you can all go to hell, you pathetic, lying, stupid jackasses.
The same goes for the mayor of this city, who has suggested that Antifa occasionally be given free rein over this city, and that conservatives should go home, because “we wouldn’t want to provoke violence.”
I do want to actually thank the administration for making the effort to put on this event tonight; there were a lot of obstacles, and I’ll talk about the obstacles in a little bit, but they did attempt to make the effort, and they did unshackle the police to actually protect this. Thank you to the administration for doing that.
I saw a lot of headlines on the way here about how it was going to cost $600,000 in security for this event. And that is not due to me — I’m not the one out threatening to break windows; it’s not due to you — you’re here listening; it’s due to the Antifa hard-Left morons who are out there breaking windows. And I do want to say one thing, which is that in a city as Left as Berkeley, if you’re going to blame me for the $600,000 in spending on security, you’re all Keynesians: think of all the jobs I just created.
After the laughter stopped, Shapiro continued:
Now, this lecture is titled, “Say No To Campus Thuggery.” That’s the title of the lecture because of Antifa and the wave of violence that has engulfed this campus since earlier this year. I spoke here last year, some of you may remember; I was here last year. I spoke in February 2016 here.
Nothing. It was a packed house; I had two security guards; that was it. No violence, no nothing, and now we are spending well into six figures so that I can say many of the same things.
It’s utterly absurd. It’s utterly absurd. But things have changed. Well, why have they changed?
It’s because there’s a pathetic new movement arising all over the country, from Sacramento to Berkeley to Dallas to Charlottesville. That movement says that speech is violence, and must be treated as such. This is groups like Refuse Fascism, (don’t worry, we’ll get to the alt-right later), this is groups like Refuse Fascism, which professes to promote protest, but has actually said that it won’t rule out working with groups like Antifa.
Holding up the flyer that lefists had circulated around the campus prior to his visit, Shapiro commented:
Here is the poster that they put out earlier about me. I don’t know who designs their posters, but guys, this is too many words.
Bad logo and bad imagery, just poorly done.
They say on this that the problem isn’t “campus thuggery.” If you can’t see this, it says, “No, Ben Shapiro, the problem is not campus thuggery. The problem is fascist intellectual thuggery in the service of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.”
Well, to believe this you have to have your head so far up your ass you can actually see your own colon firsthand.
Let’s define a few terms: first of all, “Fascism intellectual thuggery.” What actually is fascism? It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot by people who have never read a book. Fascism is the phenomenon whereby people believe that they have the capacity to ram their beliefs down your throat at the point of a gun or say the point of a baton or by throwing Molotov cocktails. That’s what fascism truly is. Fascism is more of a tactic than it is an ideology. It’s sort of vague in terms of ideology; there are people on the Left who are fascist, people like Stalin, and then you’ve had people who are on the European Right, like Hitler, who was fascist, who was actually closer to the traditional American Left than he would be to the traditional American Right.
But I have been spending my entire career standing up against fascism, and the idea that an overreaching government that uses the power of the gun in order to compel people to do what they want.
Antifa is fascist; I am not a fascist.
And as far as the service to the Trump/Pence “fascist regime,” first of all, I just want to note something: for all the talk abut Trump and Pence being fascist, look at the protests outside: where is Orange Hitler shutting it down? He’s nowhere to be found. This idea that we’re living in a fascist country – we’re actually living under a relatively ineffectual administration, if anything, but the idea that we’re living in some sort of fascist dystopia is utterly absurd.
As far as the idea that I’m a white supremacist in service to Trump-Pence, couple problems there: one, as far as the service to Trump-Pence, again, I didn’t vote for Trump, or Hillary; I didn’t vote for either of them, actually, so this idea that I am somehow a servant of Trump is absurd and requires you to be functionally illiterate.
As far as the idea that I’m a white supremacist, you see the thing on the top of my head? (Shapiro bent forward so the audience could see his yarmulke.) This funny hat? It’s called a yarmulke. White supremacists aren’t that fond of it, which is why I was, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the number one recipient of white supremacist anti-Semitism on the internet among journalists in 2016.
But no, I’m a white supremacist now; because this is the way the Left works: if you don’t agree with them, everyone is a white supremacist. You’re a Nazi, Nazis should be punched, and therefore it’s totally fine to stand outside and try to shut down events if you can get away with it. They’re not getting away with it tonight because the police have been allowed to actually do their jobs.
So what is their specific objection to me? Well, according to this masterfully-done poster, it says, “Shapiro is coming to campus to spread ugly fascist views dressed up in slick-talking ‘intellectual’ garb.”
I do like the “slick-talking.”
He continued quoting the flyer: “This is harmful! He, along with fascists of many stripes, have targeted Berkeley because reversing Berkeley’s radical history would be a major advance for the consolidation of fascism on campuses everywhere and throughout society.”
The reason I’m here — I’ve been asked this a lot — the reason that I am here is because fascism does not own this university. Because there are students who do want to hear differing views. Who don’t want to be told that they can only hear one view. Who don’t believe that the First Amendment should die under the jackboots and Birkenstocks of a bunch of anarchist, communist pieces of garbage.
But I don’t just want to talk about the people who actually get violent, because I think that in a civil society this is one thing we should all agree on, and I’ve been pleased to see that even people like Nancy Pelosi have condemned Antifa; Nancy Pelosi, with whom I disagree on literally every issue it is possible to disagree on, including the proper use of Botox.
But she and I agree on this. We all agree that violence should be out-of-bounds, and if you’re on the Left and you don’t agree with that, let me suggest to you that you don’t belong living in a civilized society, because a civilized society is based on the premise that the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, as Max Weber put it, and the idea that you’re supposed to violate that if you don’t like what I’m saying makes you an uncivilized barbarian.
But it’s not just that that I want to talk about; I want to talk about an ideology that goes a little bit deeper than that.
Antifa couldn’t go anywhere without an ideology that runs broader than Antifa, without a group of people willing to look the other way. What is the view that undergirds Antifa? What is the view that undergirds the hard-Left, many of whom celebrate Antifa, or were doing so until it became politically unpalatable to do so?
It’s a view that America is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad place.
Now the truth is that America is an incredible place. It’s the greatest place in the history of the world. The freest, most prosperous country, the most tolerant country in the history of planet Earth.
This country is an amazing place full of opportunity. Nobody, by and large, cares enough about you to stop you from achieving your dreams. That includes you, people who are shouting out there in the audience. No one cares about you; get over yourselves. I don’t care about you; no one cares about you; no one is trying to stop you because you’re irrelevant to me. I have a wife and two children; I care about them. I don’t care about you. You don’t mean anything to me.
The same guy who yelled, “I love you, Ben, shouted again, “I love you, Ben.”
Shapiro pointed out toward the crowd, joking, “Except for that guy who said he loves me. I love that guy, too.”
He added, “But everybody else, okay?”
(laughter and applause)
That means, in a free country, if you fail, it’s probably your own fault. If it is somebody else’s fault, if somebody is actually trying to throw up obstacles in front of you in a way that is unjust and bigoted, point out the specific instance so we can all side with you. We all want to be on the same side. We all want to help out; when somebody is a racist and trying to stop you, we all want to sound off and stop that, too.
The idea, however, that America as a whole owns your failure when you can’t point to specific problems, does not wash. It is you shifting the buck.
It’s a waste of time and energy blaming your failures on “the system” unless you’ve got some evidence. But, unfortunately, on college campuses, and for the Left more broadly, there’s been this notion that America is bad, and the reason that you fail is because America has historically been very bad. This is the identity politics of the Left. Because America is bad in that it targets you. America targets you, and we have a entire hierarchy of intersectionality that’s been built by the Left to tell you whether your views are legitimate or not; the more victimized you are the more legitimate your views are.
So, the hierarchy goes something like this: the people whose views are most valuable and been most victimized. At the very top are people who are LGBT, and then you get black people, and then you get women, and then you get Hispanic people, and then you get Native Americans, and then you get Asians, and then you get Jews — Jews may be above Asians, maybe Jews — then Asians, and at the very, very bottom, you get straight white males. Those are the people who have nothing to say about anything because obviously they are the beneficiaries of this “white-privilege” system.
Now, the logic of intersectionality, because it suggests that the value of your opinion lies in your ethnic identity and your group identity, the idea is that if I attack your ideas, if I say that you have bad ideas, what I am really doing is attacking you personally; I’m really attacking your identity. I’m “aggressing” you. You might require counseling.
This is the philosophy of microaggressions: my words are violence. Even the term “microaggression” suggests that it is an “aggression” against you; “microaggressions,” I am “aggressing” you; it’s an act of violence.
As NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has said, “Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.” The thing is, you don’t actually have to intend to offend anyone to “microaggress” them; they just have to feel offended.
And the thing is that “microaggressions” are actual violence. This is why you see the dolts outside shouting that speech is violence, because they think that I am actually doing them violence when they don’t hear me. But if they would hear me, then presumably I would be doing them violence and they would need counseling, and if they act with violence it’s because it’s in response.
And unfortunately, this university engages in precisely this sort of damaging attitude; so at the same time they are willing to allow the police to fight Antifa, they are fostering an attitude that says that certain types of speech are violence, which is the gas in the tank for groups like Antifa, it’s the gas in the tank for the hard-Left.
Before my arrival, the university obviously put in place all sorts of security measures to stop people from getting violent, which is great. But they also put out a letter; and they put out a letter to all the students here, and here’s what it said: it said that I was a threat, because they were going to offer “Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty. We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging.”
He continued reading: “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or what they believe,” then pointed at himself, drawing laughter from the crowd.
He finished quoting, “For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged.”
And they offer employee support services, student support services. You see, I’m attacking your identity if we disagree about politics and you may require counseling. By the way, just a side note: if you require counseling because of this speech, let me suggest to you that it was a mistake for you to have foregone psychiatric treatment long ago.
I know, I’m super scary; look at me, I’m physically intimidating, as everyone knows. I understand; you’re afraid I’m going to turn into the Hulk and ruin your life. But the truth is I think that you’re big boys and girls and you can probably handle it. I assume you’re not all a bunch of weaklings and pansies and snowflakes. That may not be a fair assumption, but I will assume it for the sake of this argument.
I assume you can handle disagreement. If, in fact, you cannot handle disagreement, you are making your life harder, and you are making your life worse, and you are making the country worse. You’re driving political polarization by failing to engage on a level of discussion. As you know, we’re going to do a Q&A after this, and I love taking questions. It’s my favorite thing, and I have a rule which is if you disagree with me, you raise your hand and you go to the front of the line, because discussion makes the country better.
But you feeling insulted and then whining about it, and then suggesting that you’re a victim, without evidence, and that I have victimized you because I won’t accept your victimhood? This makes the country a worse place.
So I want to go briefly through a couple of the intersectional hierarchy groups, people who feel that they are victims in American society and explain why you are not, in fact, a victim; why you need to take control of your own life and become an adult.
So let’s start with the idea that poor people in America are victimized. This is sort of the Bernie Sanders case: income inequality is the root of all evil. This is Antifa’s case: that communism or anarchism would be a better solution then say, a free and civil society that’s raised half the world out of abject poverty.
Income equality is not the big problem; nobody rich is making you poor. Bill Gates did not make you poor; Bill Gates provided you a product and if you bought it, that is your fault.
The upper middle class grew from 12% of Americans in 1979 to 30% as of 2014. That is a massive growth in the upper middle class. The rich are not making you poorer, they are paying your salary.
American income mobility, by the way, is just as strong as European countries with far more redistribution. Income mobility drops only when you drop out of high school or you have a baby out of wedlock. This is what makes you poor.
How about the idea that if you’re black in America there’s a white supremacist hierarchy that is keeping you down?
Now listen, you’d be a fool not to acknowledge, or a liar, not to acknowledge the history of racism in America. Everybody acknowledges that, if you have half a brain. Of course. Slavery, Jim Crow. Awful, evil treatment at the hands of awful, evil people. We all acknowledge this; we all acknowledge the collective sin of the United States in promulgating this, and the individual sins, more importantly, of the people who actually promulgated this stuff. We all get that.
But that’s not what we’re talking about. Now we’re talking about now. Because I wasn’t born when Jim Crow was in place; I wasn’t an adult when Jim Crow was in place. I know that I’m not a racist and I know I haven’t acted in a racist manner, and I would bet you money that the people in this room haven’t acted in a racist manner, that they haven’t held slaves, or voted for Jim Crow. I will bet you money that is the case.
You cannot fix past injustices with current injustices. The only way to fix past injustices is with individual freedom. That’s it.
The idea that black people in the United States are disproportionately poor because America is racist; that’s just not true, at least not in terms of America’s racism today keeping black people down. It’s just not the case. If that were the case then you’d have to look at group income, and decide based on group income who’s been victimized the most, and who the country was built for. By that standard, the country was built by Asians, because the racial group with the highest median income in the United States is Asians. The Constitution was not written by a bunch of people who speak Korean. Because the Constitution is a document of freedom, not a document of ethnicity.
So here are the three rules. You want to be rich in America; you want to do well in America? You want to put aside the whining about the system? Again, you point out to me an individual instance of racism, I will stand next to you and fight it, but if you whine about America? No good.
Okay. Here are the three rules that you need to fulfill as a person before you can start complaining about your life failures being the result of somebody else’s actions. Number one, you need to finish high school. Number two: you need to get married before you have babies. Number three: You need to get a job.
That’s it. You do those things you will not be permanently poor in the United States of America.
According to the Brookings Institute, 2% of Americans who followed these rules are in poverty. 75% have joined the middle class. What about racism? 71% of poor families with children are unmarried. The poverty rate among non-married white families was 22% in 2008; that same year the poverty rate among black married couples was less than 7%.
But what happened to racism? Why weren’t those black married couples poorer than the single white moms? Because it doesn’t have to do with color; it has to do with life decisions.
We can talk about differentials in crime, and where these statistics come from. The basic rule is: If you don’t commit a crime, you’re not going to be arrested for it. The police are not going around arresting black people for the fun of it. They’re going around arresting criminals based on criminal reports, which is why the number of criminal reports, based on race, matches up exactly with the number of criminal arrests, based on race. If you don’t report people for crime, it’s hard for the police to know to pick them up.
How about women, this idea that women are vastly victimized in our society? Hillary Clinton is making beaucoup dollars off of this nonsense this week. As I tweeted earlier this week, this week we found out that a clown can emerge from the woods and scare half of Americans, and also “It” came out.
Hillary Clinton is going around whining about there’s a glass ceiling, and she couldn’t break through it, and it’s all because of sexism, it’s not because she was the world’s worst candidate and a pretty appalling human being; no, it was because everybody is a sexist. Everybody is a sexist. We hear in this context very much about the “wage gap,” the idea that women are paid significantly less than man, 72 cents on the dollar. That’s absolute sheer nonsense, it is absolute nonsense. In 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in America, women make 8% more than men do in their peer group. That wage gap is growing, not shrinking
At colleges, 55% of people in colleges are women; that gap is getting larger, not smaller; 58% of all graduate degrees go to women. The majority of voters are women. If we are living in a place where women are vastly victimized by men, I’d really like to see that place.
And as far as this idea that there’s a vast rape epidemic going on on campus, every rape, as I’ve said a thousand times, every rape should be dealt with by the prosecution of the rapist, ending with their jailing, castration, or death. That’s how I feel about rape.
But this nonsense statistic that’s been presented that one in five women on college campuses is being raped is not true. It’s just not true. The actual statistic, according to the Department of Justice, is something like one in every 58; obviously far too high, but not one in five. If it were one in five, by the way, if you’re a woman at this campus, you should go to your parents and ask them what kind of nuts they are to send you in a war zone where you’re likely to be raped.
How about the idea that gays and lesbians are really living under the boot of American society? In terms of income they certainly aren’t; certainly not in terms of income: Women in lesbian couples make far more money than women in straight couples do. Men in gay couples make slightly less than men in straight couples, but same-sex couples with both partners in the labor force make $8,000 more per year than straight couples, and they are typically higher educated.
So that talks about the identity politics, this intersectional hierarchy of the Left.
But there’s another group of people that engages in identity politics that I want to talk about now. And it’s the battle between the identity politics of the Left and the identity politics of the so-called alt-right that is making the country a significantly worse place and it needs to stop now because it is utter and complete horrible bullshit.
The first thing to note: this notion that the alt-right is actually conservative is nonsense. Let me define what I mean by alt-right, because not everybody who likes Pepe memes or Harambe memes is a member of the alt-right. Not everybody that the Left says is alt-right is actually alt-right. The Left calls me alt-right, which is patently insane. You legitimately have to have a screw loose to call me alt-right; I spend half my career attacking the alt-right.
What is the alt-right? The alt-right are a group of people who believe that ideology and ethnicity are inextricably intertwined, just like the identity politics Left. On the identity politics Left, if you’re a black person who is a leftist, you’re a leftist because you’re a black person. On the identity politics Right, Western civilization was not built by people with good ideas, it was built by people with white skin. And that means that people who don’t have white skin cannot properly assimilate into Western civilization. This has no grounding in reality. The fact is that there are lots of white people in Britain before the Romans arrived, and they weren’t living a civilized life, as we would currently call it, under Western civilization.
In fact, the people who — the Romans, when Italians were coming to the United States in the early part of the 20th century, there was tremendous discrimination against Italians because they weren’t considered properly white. The definition of white moves around a lot, based on convenience. Sometimes Jews are white, sometimes Jews are not white; it sort of depends on what you’re talking about. But according to the alt-right, because ideology and race are inextricably intertwined, they must have a white identity politics all their own. If there’s a group of people who are fighting for the group identity politics of blacks or of women, or of gays and lesbians, then there has to be a white group that fights back on behalf of the white race.
As you may have noticed, I think all of this is disgusting. Western civilization is not built on race. There have been lots of countries all over Europe that were not particularly civilized and were quite white. Freedom, personal responsibility, separation of powers, God-given rights protected by a government elected with the consent of the governed — these are the values of Western civilization.
But the alt-right overtly rejects these ideas. They say the Constitution is outmoded, that it doesn’t work. They say that government for white people is necessary and good, because you can’t assimilate people into so-called “white culture.” They hang out with neo-Nazis because a lot of them actually believe some of the same things neo-Nazis believe: white supremacy.
Let’s be straight about this: this is, like 10,000 people across the country. This is not a million people; this is not ten million people; this is not 63 million people; this is not 200 million “deplorables.” It’s a very small select group of absolutely terrible people who believe absolutely terrible things.
But they’re getting a lot of attention and coverage right now, because we live in a reactionary moment. A lot of the people are reacting to the identity politics of the Left by making nice with the alt-right. There’s this weird notion on the Right that if you drink leftist tears that’s enough. Drinking leftist tears is enough.
So if the alt-right ticks off the Left, they’re fine. It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting. I have no other word for it.
It is not enough to stand against bad ideologies; you must also stand for a good ideology. You must stand for a good philosophy. You cannot stand with bad people just because you think those bad people make your enemies cry. The enemy of your enemy in a country where we’re all supposed to be friends is not only bad strategy, it destroys the country wholesale.
So, how do we solve all this? We’re on campus, and we’re hearing the identity politics of the Left, and then you watch the news and you see the identity politics of the alt-right. How do you solve all of this?
Well, the way that you solve all of this, first of all, let’s start with the campus thuggery, the way that you solve all of this is by letting the police do their jobs. Administratotrs need to let the police do their jobs. None of this would have gone anywhere if back in February, when Milo, whom I significantly dislike, when Milo came to speak, if they had allowed the police to do their jobs, and arrest everyone who even hinted at violence. People who get violent should be arrested and they should spend time in jail, and the authorities have a responsibility to allow the police to do their jobs.
And this is not the fault of the cops; this is the fault of cowardly political actors, pusillanimous cowards who hide behind their desks every time some people on the Left whine a little bit.
The second thing that has to happen: you have to stop seeing everybody in America as an enemy who despises you based on identity. Again, they don’t care about you; you’re not that important a human. Not that many of us know each other; not that many of us care about each other; we care about our families; we care about our friends; and we certainly don’t want to stop each other. We mostly want to be treated civilly, and we can all do that if we stop looking into each other’s eyes and seeing a potential enemy instead of seeing somebody who’s just a person, a person who probably doesn’t care about you very much, and doesn’t want to stop you and doesn’t mind what you do. This is not difficult stuff.
And finally, stop seeing yourself as a victim, because in order to see everybody else as an enemy, which justifies your violence and hate against them, you have to see yourself as their victim.
Again: America is the greatest country in human history. You are not a victim. If you are a victim of something, you need to show me what you are a victim of and I will stand beside you. But do not blame the freest, most civil society in the history of planet Earth for your failures, because that’s on you.
Now, was that so rough? Did we need $600,000 of security to hear all of that? I have a feeling that the majority of people protesting the speech have never heard of me. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that Antifa sits around watching Thug Life videos.
If they did, I doubt they would be members of Antifa.
But the idea that they’re out there protesting, they’re out there maybe getting violent, apparently four people were arrested for carrying weapons already; the idea that all that is happening is indicative of the fact that we have stopped seeing each other as individuals. We are all individuals. I’m an individual with a particular point of view. I am not a cardboard cutout for you to call a white supremacist; I’m not a cardboard cutout for you to call a Nazi; and neither is anybody else in this room.
Get to know people. Get to know their views. Discuss. Debate. That is what America is all about.
If we all do that, I do think that America can see a better day, because I think we’re in a dark moment right now, but I think we can get to a brighter moment if we stop seeing each other as members of groups and identifying as members of groups, primarily, and instead see each other as individuals, made in God’s image, one with equal value to another in God’s eyes. If we do that, America will see a resurgence.
Thank you so much.
Video below. Speech starts at 34:27: