Updating a May, 2016 essay I wrote about the millennial “Saving Ben Shapiro” I can unequivocally pronounce him “found”! I thought he was perilously close to becoming lost due to the major rot of recent generations; self-adoration and a down-the-nose contempt for the common folk who must always decide the future of our republic if it is to remain one. There is no such thing as a constitutional oligarchy.
That question will be finally decided by the types of leaders who will in fact lead these newer generations through the wilderness (Moses metaphor intended) as opposed to scaring them, mystifying them and even hypnotizing them, into a kind of bondage that will destroy this concept of liberty altogether, and possibly even drive them back into the feudal system in which Ramon Llull (mentioned in the cited post, above) lived.
(You may not know this, but the finest older church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, even Llull, came from the wealthiest of homes, and they gave that wealth away to follow Christ.) Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew, married with three kids, and seems to approach his ancient faith in the same manner Billy and Franklin Graham approach theirs, i.e., something worth copying.
In 2018 I did a similar piece on the GenXer, Jonah Goldberg “Was Jonah Goldberg a better Thinker in 2008 than he is now?” After a couple of exchanges on Twitter he blocked me.
There is no comparison.
It’s now very clear that Ben Shapiro, now creeping towards 40, has exceeded most of my hopes for him. And he loves to confront his “enemies” face to face, a thing very few modern conservatives of any generation, Boomer, GenX’er, or Millennial will dare do. I know podcasts are now the chosen the medium for semi-mass internet communications, for that allows its star attractions to circumvent the protesters which virtually every place Ben Shapiro appeared was threatened with. Still, it is the most effective way to communicate…both, teach and preach…to a hostile audience.
Ben Shapiro has proved himself a master at the art.
In the 2016 essay, partially reprinted here, I tried to introduce Ben to the Franciscan monk- martyr Ramon LLul who was stoned to death at age 82 in Muslim North Africa, not for his religion, but for his effective use of logic. (Llul was also a genius, a known Middle Age mathematician.)
What makes Ben Shapiro so important is that he has smashed a barrier constructed by the Marxist left over 150 years ago about never, never debating “facts” in front of an audience. As FA Hayek pointed out in Capitalism and the Historians, a book he edited about early factories in England in the 1870s, Marxists denounced the loss of thatched-roof village culture (and interestingly, the loss of the underlying”manor-culture”, representing class stations, an “inheritance” to which they secretly aspire to succeed) with made-up facts about the labor transplants’ new lives in tenements, and of course, indoor work conditions versus the fresh air of plowing that row and totin’ that bale.
In 2014 I wrote a piece about this predilection of the Left (“The Traveling Wilburs Debating Society”) against people like Bill Buckley, Dinesh D’Souza, even Robert Ardrey, and of course Hayek, with the vaxxed belief that ordinary Americans cannot assess facts because they have not been specially trained to understand them. I think their presence on Twitter proves my point here, as I’ve witnessed a new army of young, spunky Millennials and even Gen Z kids use those same old Marxist attack modus operandi, pretending to be smart from a distance, without ever having to stand in the well of cross-examination.
They’re safe at Twitter, so I don’t think they would dare try to grab a mic at a Ben Shapiro Q&A. I wrote that 2016 piece, above, at a time when Ben was being hammered on campuses, some schools canceling his show on the basis of a threat of violence. My Gen X son, 13-14 years older than Ben, thought he had the right stuff, but I worried he may run the risk of losing it. (My 2018 lamentation about Jonah Goldberg proved to be spot on. He was a better thinker in 2008 than 2018, but because of Donald Trump, he had, in Jonathan Winters’ words, after he’d checked himself into a mental rehab facility, “started believing his own stuff.”)
Ben, instead has met the Devil mid-court, and has been taking names for quite a few years now. Instead of being denied a stage, he can draw a crowd which is nothing like the audiences Buckley had to face, for his are at least 30%, maybe even half, in his corner. He can get an applause.
But what has changed even more, to my unscientific math, has been the largely generational desire of millennials and GenX’ers to show their arses by trying to take on Ben Shapiro, one-on-one, then one, finding they were unable to top him, and second, that a large portion of the crowd agreed with Ben’s smack-downs. Cheers more than jeers. This is very, very un-Alinsky.
To my unscientific mind these younger generations are willing to take public risks their GenX forerunners were rarely willing to run. We’ll have to wait…well, you’ll have to wait…to see whether they learned any major life lessons from the experience by the time they turn 35-40, but that young lady Ben out-argued faces some serious closet time with herself…possibly aided by some cathartic agent…Hillary used lamps, many, many others various drug and alcohol concoctions.
My generation had a Vietnam War, which was a great leveler for many of the social classes…we rubbed far too many common elbows to suit these modern kids, and the shelf-selection of drugs less broad. (I stopped at beer.)
And Ben Shapiro is also a man of faith.
The late Rev Billy Graham said that if people are going to call themselves “Christian” it would be helpful if, from time to time, they would mention Jesus. An obverse to Rev Graham’s point was made by C S Lewis 75 years earlier, in his “Screwtape Letters.” In an exchange between Screwtape, a chief recruiter for the Devil, to his nephew, Wormwood, a junior Tempter, who was in hot pursuit of a new soul, Wormwood expressed concern because he overheard “the Patient” talking with others speaking favorably about the Christian religion because it was “good for society.” Should he intervene? But Screwtape urged Wormwood to encourage this sort of talk, for the more Christians looked upon their religion as a social good, the less they thought about the true Source of their faith.
And that sort of faith, now seemingly close to absent at least to the higher income demographic of these generations, seems to be a key ingredien
(I was wondering if people familiar with Portland Antifa, (Andy Ngo?) have made deeper inquiries, since these photos all bear names and addresses, how many of these kids came from poor vs well-off circumstances, how many have/had been institutionalized…before or after…and how many have offed themselves. Those sorts of questions need to be asked and answered.)
Ben’s female inquisitor, above, said she was 22, which means she’s likely not an undergraduate, and is a “mathematician and physicist”, which, if true, would mean her degree(s) would be steeped in solid logic and science. She may have been a grad student, even possibly a member of staff at this North Carolina university.
Indeed, she was polite in her questioning and her reclamas well-stated, but the applause indicated that she may have been known to some of the other students in the room, and Ben’s responses that put her down were received gladly.
I know he’s been treated much worse in years past, but while there is mental skill, and fast-on-your-feet skill, there is also sticktoitiveness to celebrate, which requires yet another area of the mind and soul to reach down and use. He doesn’t quit.
He may yet meet a faster talker or thinker, but Ben Shapiro will not run into a deeper thinker, one more steeped in logic and its correlation to observable facts.
Years ago my GenX son said Ben was worth saving, for the same reasons Saul (nee Paul) was worth saving on the Damascus Road. Because he seems to have that right kind of stuff (thanks be to God for Harvard), maybe Ben Shapiro can lead other men and women to true “love Americanism”.
Millenials and GenZ’s need to be taught these three simple things about “Being American”:
1. America was not an accident. It is not a Darwinian fluke, and aberration, an anomaly that merely escaped Nature’s seine net and then miraculously survived;
2. The express purpose of America was to enable the common man and woman, the C-students, to rise above their mean existence, economically and intellectually. These are the shoulders we all stand on. Therefore, logically, they were not created to empower A-students to look down their noses on the Homer and Marge Simpsons of their world and enrich themselves by exploiting them, managing them, or debasing them.
3. If the purpose of true conservatism is to defend the Constitution, then its duty is to likewise defend and protect and rescue these selfsame Simpsons.
I’m not saying you can’t continue to troll and snark and chastise all these “mind-numbed robots” (Rush Limbaugh). Or that you can’t get paid for it. Or even wallow in your money and your celebrity and your temporary invitation to a swimming pool in Washington owned by WAPO and frequented by George Will. I’m just saying you aren’t conservative, and (God willing) there will be a growing army of millennials, missionized by just one at first, then a dozen, then hundreds, who will begin calling you out.
This has to happen of those generations may be lost.
My son thinks Ben Shapiro may just be that guy.