In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro talked with fellow podcast host Joe Rogan about the Left’s new definition of racism and some “unpopular” but “empirically correct” solutions to racial inequality that at times had the two hosts at odds.
The interview began with the two talking about an issue that has impacted both men personally and that is rooted in some of the larger problems they went on to address in the nearly two-hour exchange: the rapid decline of Los Angeles due to “progressive” policies that have resulted in an explosion in homelessness and increasingly lawless behavior, as displayed in the recent social justice riots.
The two podcast hosts both expressed surprise at the rate of the deterioration of the city and pointed to the broader issues it highlights – effective law enforcement policies and racial unrest.
Prompted by Rogan, Shapiro – whose new book, “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps,” addresses the race debate – addressed the growing movement to “tear down the entire system.” The forces behind the movement, Shapiro explained, include The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which seeks to “reframe” America’s history in a way that makes slavery “central” to everything about the country, and Robin DiAngelo’s widely cited book, “White Fragility.” This movement, Shapiro said, seeks to shift the definition of racism in a radical and destructive way.
“The biggest problem right now in the racism point, is the shifting definition of racism,” said Shapiro (video below). “So, I had the unfortunate experience of actually reading one of the bestselling books in the country, Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility.’ And let me just tell you, a greater pile of horsesh** has never been produced by a bevy of horses.”
The “awful book,” he said, is basically rooted in the same theories as Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist,” which changes the basic definition of racism.
“You and I, we’re sitting here discussing racism, and the way I define racism is probably the same way you define racism,” said Shapiro. “You believe in the superiority or inferiority of a group based on race – of an individual based on their membership in that group, too.”
“That’s racist, yes,” Rogan agreed.
But DiAngelo and Kendi “redefine racism to mean any societal structure that results in a racial inequality is itself racist,” Shapiro explained. “So any structure that results in a not-exact proportion between whites and blacks is racist.”
“Does that make the NBA racist?” Rogan responded.
“Exactly, exactly. The answer is kind of yes,” said Shapiro. “Except that the NBA’s not racist because obviously it benefits black people.” The real reason the NBA’s not racist, Shapiro stressed, is that it is in fact a “meritocracy” in which those who are best at playing the game are rewarded.
But even the idea of a meritocracy, Shapiro noted, is considered “an aspect of whiteness” by these new radical activists, and thus “racist” according to this new definition of racism. DiAngelo and Kendi both say that “meritocracy and the individual are aspects of whiteness because these institutions — things like meritocracy and individualism and not seeing people’s color — these just reinforce hierarchies that end with disparate outcomes,” he said.
This “systemic” definition of racism is also the underlying premise of the Times’ “1619 Project,” which Shapiro noted has been strongly criticized by prominent historians. The inevitable conclusion of this premise, Shapiro argued, is that DiAngelo, Kendi, and the Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones “say is that in order to be anti-racist you have to be willing to tear down the entire system.”
As the Defund the Police movement highlights, that “system” includes law enforcement, thus the growing movement vilifying law enforcement – a movement which Shapiro argued is something that will ultimately hurt the black community in particular.
While Shapiro and Rogan appeared to agree on the basic definition of racism, Rogan asked if some sort of “middle ground” could be attained between the “1619” view and the “1776” view, which sees the country as founded in the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and progressing in order to better realize those ideals. Shapiro said yes, but said he doesn’t believe that middle ground is as much in “the center” as people want to believe.
“When you teach people that they are the victims of a society, it makes it very difficult for them to succeed,” said Shapiro. “The story of black America should be the story of unbelievably brave people triumphing over systems that sucked. That is the story of black America. Most black Americans do not live under the poverty line in the United States. There’s a huge black middle class. There’s a huge upper class, too.”
On the question of how to best address the cycle of violence and poverty plaguing the black community, the host and Shapiro at times butted heads. Rogan repeatedly suggested that there must be a stronger government-based “intervention” in those communities to improve education and opportunities, while Shapiro maintained that so long as our laws and other systems treat all equally, as he said they do, most of the progress in the end must come down to “good decisions” by members of the community. “At some point, personal agency has to come in,” said Shapiro.
Rogan countered with a sense of fatalism about individuals’ attempts to break a community cycle without some form of intervention, particularly through education showing them that there are “other options” than what they’ve seen modeled around them.
After Shapiro argued that a lot of “the solutions” to poverty and crime among the black community have been tried, including LBJ’s failed “War on Poverty,” Rogan asked him what he would do specifically to help the black community if he were “king of the world.” Shapiro responded with what he described as “the unpopular view,” but also the “empirically correct” view.
“The first thing you have to do is you have to load the place with police,” he said. “You’ve got to load the place with police because you’ve got to stop crime. Once you stop crime, then businesses are happy to invest in those areas. You’re not going to get businesses to invest in those areas and provide jobs unless crime is gone.” Only when residents and businesses in a community feel safe, he said, will there be sustainable educational and vocational opportunities that will help people break out of impoverished historical cycles.
Relevant section of the interview below (view the full interview here):