On Tuesday, in a most unusual place, a column appeared that heartily defended Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, acknowledging him sympathetically as “that wildly exotic creature: a political conservative.” The column also mocked the idea of leftists calling Shapiro a “fascist,” and described him as “a 33-year-old who supports small government, religious liberty and free-market economics and opposes identity politics, abortion and Donald Trump.”
So just where did this paean to Shapiro appear?
Penned by Times columnist Bari Weiss, the column, titled, “A political conservative goes to Berkeley,” noted the impending brouhaha at the University of California, Berkeley due to Shapiro’s speech on September 14, including the hilariously misguided letter to students and faculty members written by Paul Alivisatos, the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost, who offered counseling services for the victims of Shapiro’s supposed rampage through campus.
… the activist group Refuse Fascism, which has hailed the left-wing extremist antifa movement as “courageous,” has taken the lead in condemning Mr. Shapiro’s speech, calling him a “fascist” on campus fliers and declaring in a Facebook post that his goal was to “spread ugly fascist views dressed up in slick-talking ‘intellectual’ garb.”
Weiss acknowledges Shapiro can occasionally provoke hostility, mentioning that he “once brought a diaper to a campus speech to offer to ‘self-indulgent pathetic children who can’t handle anyone with an opposing point of view.’” She also notes the viral exchange (which has nearly 50 million views) in which Shapiro confronted the transgender issue by asking the student promulgating the transgender agenda, “Why aren’t you 60?”, although she prefers to elide that exchange in favor of the moment he asked the student, “If I call you a moose are you suddenly a moose?”
But Weiss points out that Shapiro, whom the protesters at UC Berkeley have insanely called a “white supremacist,” was brutally targeted by those same white supremacists and anti-Semites in 2016:
Yet this sharp-tongued Never Trumper was also, according to the Anti-Defamation League, by far the most bullied Jewish journalist of 2016 — quite a distinction when you think about the kind of vitriol that gushed forth this past year on platforms like Twitter. Those attacks came from the alt-right, which called Mr. Shapiro a “Christ killer” and far worse. When his son was born, the trolls called the baby a “newborn cockroach” and suggested that the entire Shapiro family head to the gas chambers.
Weiss posits that the protests against Shapiro are symptomatic of something larger: “the sloppy conflation between actual white supremacists and, well, run-of-the-mill conservatives, libertarians and classical liberals whose main beef is with some on the left who seem like they’d rather do without the First Amendment.”
That is entirely correct.
Even The New York Times gets it right once in a great while.