The decade's most triggering comedy
This week, in the space of 24 hours, I went from a nice person with good intentions who differs politically from liberals but doesn’t bend the truth to a racist, sexist, bigot homophobe, at least in the view of actor/director Mark Duplass. I don’t resent Duplass – I feel bad for the guy, insofar as he’s been bullied by the regressive Left into disowning any association with anyone with a different point of view (he’s done similar things with Glenn Beck and Steven Crowder, for what it’s worth).
Here’s how this sort of thing typically works. A liberal says something decent about a person who has said things not in keeping with the liberal agenda; Twitter trolls drag comments out of context to suggest that this person is actually an evil human being; liberal retracts. That’s not unusual. It’s now happened to Kevin Williamson, Bari Weiss, Daniella Greenbaum, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin, Jason Riley, Heather MacDonald, Jordan Peterson, Charles Murray, and many others.
That’s just the way this works. It’s not that these people are hated because they’ve said terrible things. It’s that they’re hated, so the hard Left tries to dig up supposedly terrible things they’ve said.
So, let me take this opportunity to respond to the myriad of items thrown at me by the members of the motivated online Left. First, let me point out that I’ve made mistakes and said dumb stuff. When this is pointed out, I’m more than happy to admit it, as my past retractions and statements openly suggest. In fact, you’ll see some of that below. I’ve been writing a weekly column since I was 17 years old, which provides a great window into seeing how my thinking has changed – and a great window into how people say dumb things when they’re young, and hopefully grow over time. I’ve written millions upon millions of words. I assume some of these words were stupid or immoral or both. In fact, I know some of them were.
I also know that I’ve worked to get better at my job over time – and get better as a person over time.
I’ve also tweeted some 120,000 times – and Twitter is a place for jokes and quips and hot takes, as anyone with half a brain knows. It’s not exactly the place for nuanced discussion. I’m far snarkier on Twitter than I am in person, just like every other person on Twitter in human history.
With all of this said, I’m a proud conservative. I believe in limited government and God-given rights and traditional values. Many of the comments to which the Left objects remain unproblematic and simply conservative. So, let’s go through these supposedly awful comments which put me in the “racist sexist bigot homophobe xenophobe ____phobe” camp.
My comments break down into four categories: stupid/immoral stuff I’ve said or done (and repeatedly retracted); stuff the Left is taking out of context deliberately because they’re jerks; stuff the Left just doesn’t like very much that happens to be true; and stuff I’ve said that’s clearly opinion the Left just doesn’t like.
Stupid/Immoral Stuff I’ve Said (And Usually Retracted Multiple Times)
The “Transfer” Column: At the top of this list is a column I wrote when I was 19 years old regarding the Israeli/Palestinian situation. That column called for transfer of Palestinian Arabs from Judea and Samaria and Israel proper. That idea was stupid and immoral. I have myself called that idea “inhumane and impractical,” as well as a “moral and philosophical error.” It is also worth noting that the same people who decried the transfer column as genocidal and ethnic cleansing were very much in favor of forcing every single Jew out of the Gaza Strip in 2006, and seem fine with complete destruction of Israeli settlements in favor of a Judenrein Palestinian state.
The Columbus Day Video: While I was on vacation last Columbus Day, members of the Daily Wire office created and posted a satire video that portrayed Native Americans in stereotypically negative ways. My initial response was to leave it up, since even bad satire is satire; within 24 hours, I reconsidered, hating the content of the video. We took down the video and I apologized thusly:
Friends Of Hamas. In 2013, I reported for Breitbart News a rumor I received from high-ranking Senate sources that Chuck Hagel, then nominated for Secretary of Defense, had taken money to speak from a group called “Friends of Hamas.” We reported it as a rumor; the title of the piece was “”Secret Hagel Donor?: White House Spox Ducks Question On ‘Friends of Hamas.’” It turned out that the underlying story was wrong. We shouldn’t have reported the story, and I’ve said so publicly and repeatedly.
The “Sedition Act” Column. In this column, written when I was 22, I wrote that Democrats who had been slandering our troops as well as the Bush Administration over the Iraq War were acting in “seditious” ways. I recommended prosecution of sedition – an inherently idiotic idea. Again – and I can’t say this strongly enough – this column absolutely blows. It’s garbage.
The “Enemy Civilian Casualties” Column. In this column, written when I was 18, I suggested that civilian casualties in war were of no concern. While the larger point of the piece — that we must calculate the risk to American service members when we design rules of engagement — is partially correct, the piece is expressed in the worst possible way, and simplifies the issue beyond the bounds of morality (particularly by doubting the civilian status of some civilians). It’s just a bad piece, plain and simple, and something I wish I’d never written. It’s also good evidence that a lot of the stuff you think is smart at 18 is just you being an idiot at 18.
The ‘Militant Gay English’ Column. This one was written when I was 19. It’s embarrassing and stupid. Now, it’s not embarrassing to point out that a huge number of college English classes have been perverted toward far-Left social justice indoctrination. They have. But this column is a pretty embarrassing attempt at humor. In particular, the wildly overstated closing lines of the column — “If your child majors in English, you’re sponsoring the militant homosexual agenda” — are embarrassing. Sometimes, humor just falls flat, and overstatement as an artistic tool simply looks ridiculous. This column proves it.
Attributing Motives To People In Nasty Fashion. A friend reminded me of a tweet I directed at Rabbi David Wolpe, a conservative rabbi (religiously, not politically) who famously stated that he didn’t believe in the historicity of the Biblical exodus. Wolpe and I heartily disagree on any number of serious religious issues, including interpretation of Biblical text, but that doesn’t justify a tweet I sent in 2014 suggesting that he had taken his position on the exodus out of love of fame and money. That was not only inappropriate, it was wrong, on both a factual and a moral level (on a Judaic level, I certainly violated the prescription to engage in dan l’chaf zechut — attributing the best motives to others). I’ve since deleted the tweet and apologized directly to Rabbi Wolpe. He offered to meet in person; the meeting merely reinforced what a schmuck I was to tweet something so nasty in the first place. He’s a generous person, and I appreciate his willingness to forgive. (I’m sure Wolpe isn’t the only person to whom I’ve directed such tweets, by the way; as always, please email me if you see something similar so I can apologize to the person directly. In fact, I long ago deleted similarly unpleasant tweets about Meghan McCain and apologized directly to her as well — as I apologize here.)
Defending Steve King’s Comments On Babies. In 2017, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted that “culture and demographics are our destiny.” He added, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” As I wrote at the time, this comment was susceptible to two interpretations: one vile, the other more innocuous. Based on his other comments at the time, I thought that those who jumped to the vilest interpretation were lying — that that interpretation could not fully be justified by King’s comments. Then, in 2019, King defended “white nationalism” and “white supremacism” in an interview with The New York Times. Obviously, I wrongly granted King the benefit of the doubt based on the evidence I examined at the time in 2017; the title of the piece was overstated and wrong. An update has since been added to the piece acknowledging as much. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is usually a good thing; sometimes, it means you’re not quick enough to spot indecency. This was one of those cases, of course, and it was wrong to attribute malign motives to those who disagreed at the time.
Calling George Soros A ‘Kapo.’ I think George Soros’ political priorities are not just wrong, but dangerous. I think he stands behind some of the worst causes of our time. But in 2010, I tweeted this about Soros:
That tweet was based on this tape of Soros from a 1998 interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes.
You can’t fault a 14-year-old for being forced to commit crimes in order to survive. You can certainly fault an old man for failing to recognize the evil in which he participated. But it’s unkind to call Soros a kapo. For that, I apologize.
Stuff The Left Is Taking Out Of Context
I was clearly talking about Israeli and Arab leadership, as well as terror-supporting people in the Arab world. How do you know that? Because I said so in the very next tweets:
I’ve also explained this one in myriad public comments, including here:
Here’s the reality: the Palestinians have elected terrorists to lead their government in every election in which they have participated, and those terrorist governments have eschewed peace and infrastructure building in favor of pursuing terrorism. Here’s another reality: I opposed President Trump’s Muslim ban when he proposed it as such, I’ve spoken out against discrimination against Muslims on the basis of religion (I, after all, wear a funny hat for religious reasons), I’ve spoken out against attempts to use the Koran as an excuse to label all Muslims terrorists (I do encourage people to assess the expressed political viewpoints of Muslims themselves, since all religions contain root texts that are troublesome on their face, and I care much more about what people actually believe).
Stuff The Left Doesn’t Like That Happens To Be True.
The Palestinian Population Is Radicalized. In 2007, I wrote a column about the Palestinian population, with a very simple point: the notion that simply changing out the leadership of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas would solve the Israeli-Arab conflict was asinine, since the Palestinian population had been radicalized. I wrote this:
The problem runs deeper than a few figureheads. The Palestinian Arab population is rotten to the core. There are many to be blamed: Yasser Arafat, who lined his pockets with cash and subsidized murder while playing the victim of oppression. An Arab world that refused to absorb the Palestinian population, preferring to use it as a political pawn against Israel. The United Nations, which suckled the Palestinian Arab population into dependency at the international teat. Israel, for emboldening the Palestinian Arabs by conceding to them.
In 2006, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip voted for an overt terrorist group, Hamas. A 2014 survey of the Muslim world found that Palestinians were the biggest supporters of suicide bombings. A huge majority of Palestinians want shariah law implemented. Not all populations are equally moderate or equally liberty-loving. This isn’t to suggest that Palestinian civilians should be treated in military fashion, of course. But it does suggest that systemic changes will be necessary to change the hearts of millions of Palestinians, and that simply negotiating with a new figurehead won’t cut it.
Many Jews Are “Jews In Name Only.” In 2011, I wrote a column about American Jews voting for Barack Obama, and stated:
Jews who vote for Obama are, by and large, Jews In Name Only (JINOs). They eat bagels and lox; they watch “Schindler’s List”; they visit temple on Yom Kippur — sometimes. But they do not care about Israel.
This happens to be true, by polling data and observation. Sorry.
Transgenderism Is A Mental Disorder. I haven’t been unclear about this. Transgenderism is a mental condition. It is not about societal construction of gender identity or social disapproval of those who don’t “act like us.” If you are a biological man and you believe you are a woman, you suffer from a mental disorder. What I said in this video is factually correct.
None of this is an argument for mistreatment of people who suffer from this mental disorder. Far from it. But pretending that male and female are completely malleable categories is a total and absolute, anti-scientific lie.
Trayvon Martin Was Killed While Beating A Man’s Head Against The Pavement. In response to people tweeting out that Trayvon Martin would have been alive but for a racist murder, I tweeted this a few years back:
This tweet has been trotted out as evidence that I am somehow racist. That’s weird, since I’ve repeatedly condemned killings that I believe are racially motivated:
It’s also weird, since both the state and federal government could find no evidence that Martin’s killing was a racial murder, and a jury found based on testimony of witnesses and forensic physical evidence of Zimmerman’s injuries that George Zimmerman shot Martin as Martin sat on top of him pounding his head into the pavement.
How You Dress Matters. The Left also suggests I’m racist for this tweet:
That’s weird, since nothing in the tweet references race, since it’s not about race. Lots of people of all races dress in this fashion! If you’re inherently connecting EBT cards (more white people are on food stamps than any other race) and saggy pants to black people, perhaps that’s because you’re being a racist, you idiots.
Controversial Opinions That The Left Just Doesn’t Like.
Describing Rahm Emanuel As A “Kapo.” In a 2010 column, I described White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as a kapo – a Jew who helped Nazis target Jews during the Holocaust. My basis for that statement was a Jerusalem Post report that Emanuel had told members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that “Thwarting Iran’s nuclear program is conditional on progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” Jeffrey Goldberg, the Obama administration’s appointed stooge, denied the account on the Obama administration’s behalf (Goldberg admitted that if Emanuel had said it, “that would be blackmail”). Nonetheless, the Obama administration moved full-scale toward promoting Iran’s regional terror ambitions, with Emanuel’s help. The kapo language was too charged. But Emanuel’s participation in the Obama administration’s pro-Iran agenda was despicable.
Calling Certain Political Activities and Perspectives “Fascist.” I’ve done that a number of times.
So, for example, the Left doesn’t like that I called President Obama philosophically fascist. Tough. In my view, Obama saw the government as a big “make people do things” machine. In a column talking about his fascist mentality, I explicitly stated, “I am not suggesting Obama is a Nazi; he isn’t. I am not suggesting that he is a jackbooted thug; he isn’t.” I put it this way:
He sees democracy as a filthy process that can be cured only by the centralized power of bureaucrats. He sees his presidency as a Hegelian synthesis marking the end of political conflict. He sees himself as embodiment of the collective will. No president should speak in these terms — not in a representative republic. Obama does it habitually.
I’ve also described as philosophically fascist attempts to force bakers to bake cakes, attempts by companies to root out and destroy those who disagree, and universities banning mainstream speakers. And by the way, I’ve described Trump’s economic central planning as “fascist” as well. So there’s that.
Accusing The Obama Administration Of Racism. I wrote in 2010 that racial violence was becoming more common, and that the Obama administration was fostering a climate ripe for it. I wrote this:
The Obama administration is racist. They are using that racism to let black criminals off the hook, justify illegal immigration, hamstring law enforcement across the country, and push redistribution as a solution to supposed continuing discrimination against “people of color.” The predictable result of this policy will resemble the results of the 1876 election: federal abdication on racial violence, state abdication on racial violence and local abdication on racial violence. The next race war will come not from racist whites, but from racist blacks and Hispanics who feel empowered to act on their racism by an administration that excuses all minority misbehavior.
That’s surely overstated. But the administration was certainly racially divisive, and escalation of riotous violence across the nation in 2014-2016 was not a coincidence.
Rap Sucks. Sorry, but I think rap sucks. My father is a classical composer. I’m a classically trained musician. If you don’t like that opinion, tough. Maybe I’m wrong, in your opinion. That’s fine! I also think Batman v. Superman was a good movie! But it’s not racist to think rap sucks. If we’re going to judge levels of racism by the kinds of music we like, and if I’m supposedly a racist for hating rap, then somebody is going to have to explain to me why I love jazz, originally and continuously a black musical form.
People Went Nuts Over “Black Panther” For No Reason. I think people, particularly in the media, went nuts over the cultural “importance” of Black Panther for no reason. Sue me.
That’s an opinion you may not like, but it’s certainly not racist. I liked the movie, by the way.
These seem like the most often-invoked examples of my supposed unpalatability. I’m happy to discuss any other problems people have, and update my list, in any of the above categories. Frankly, after this much writing, I don’t remember a lot of what I’ve written. I’d also like to continue getting better at my job, and being better as a person – and self-criticism is the central part of that process. In that sense, I’m grateful for the opportunity to re-examine dumb things I’ve said. It’s just too bad that those on the Left who level criticisms aren’t really up for discussion or explanations or answers. They’re too busy shouting down Mark Duplass for talking with people who might not like Bernie Sanders’ perspective on the world.
NOTE: This article will be updated as I’m made aware of other dumb/immoral/out of context stuff I’ve said. If you spot something, please let me know at bshapir[email protected]! Thanks to all those who have sent me reminders.