By Katie Schmitz, News Editor
With conservatives feeling slighted on liberal campuses, Ben Shapiro gives students advice on how to handle the leftist argument. He claims that liberal arguments are driven by ad homonym, which fails to touch on the issues at hand or the holes in the liberal ideology. Shapiro refers to this tactic as bullying.
Ben Shapiro, 29, graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA in 2004 and Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 2007. He is the author of a number of bestselling books, including Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth (2004) and, most recently, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans (2013). In addition, Shapiro has appeared on television programs such as the O’Reilly Factor and Piers Morgan Tonight. He is a renown political commentator.
Last Monday, the Kalamazoo College Republicans hosted a talk given by Shapiro in the Olmsted Room. He spoke on bullying in regards to political opinion, of which he stated, “a vast majority takes place on the left [liberal democrats] against the right [conservative republicans].”
He focused on ten different points that he said could be used when engaging in a debate with a liberal opponent. These tactics included “framing the opponent,” “spotting inconsistencies in the leftist argument,” admitting when you’re unaware of presented information, and the importance of body language.
He summarized his list by saying that, when debating with a liberal, conservatives need to “punch the bullies twice as hard.”
“We found Ben through YAF, or Young America’s Foundation, a conservative organization focusing on outreach,” explained Jenna Neumann ’14, co-President of the Kalamazoo College Republicans.
She went on to explain that Shapiro was not their first choice, and instead they had planned on hosting Kate Pavlich, a conservative author and journalist. When the YAF offered Shapiro as a speaker, Neumann explained, “We were thrilled because we had tossed around the idea previously of having him come.”
The K Republicans faced backlash from other students when news of Shapiro’s talk spread. “We were chided by other groups for advertising our event via email,” said Neumann.
“I find it interesting that when a conservative organization advertises their event to create awareness, it is ’unacceptable,’ whereas when other organizations do so to advertise distinctly ’liberal’ events, no objections are raised. The inherent hypocrisy was ironic and well-timed for Ben’s topic addressing the ways the left bullies the right on college campuses,” she continued.
The K Republicans are no strangers to objections being raised over their guest speakers. In Oct. 2011, Jason Mattera’s presence on campus created a stir as the Kalamazoo College Democrats protested the event dressed as zombies in what they called a symbolic demonstration. Mattera is the author of Obama Zombies (2008).
Emily Walsh ’14, current President of the Kalamazoo College Democrats, remembers protesting the event. “We painted out faces and made some clever signs and stood around.”
At the event, Mattera very memorably answered two students during the question-answer period with, “Did you get your panties in a wad? Take out your tampon” according to an Oct. 2011 issue of the Index.
Although Walsh felt as though Shapiro “was a lot more civil in his discourse when interacting with us,” that did not change the fact that “his views weren’t inherently any less offensive.”
She went on to explain, “It’s important to have room for dialogue and exchange of opinions on campus. Especially since this is a predominantly liberal campus. I just think choosing this speaker was not the best way to go about facilitating further dialogue. He certainly aimed to alienate liberals, and possibly even moderate conservatives or republicans … Personally, I would not bring a speaker onto campus who did the same things to conservatives.”
Neumann on the other hand expressed her feelings that the event was a great success in creating dialogue among students.
“The College Republicans were very pleased with the event,” she said. “We wanted to initiate a dialogue that drew attention to the fact that another viewpoint exists on campus,” she said.
With approximately 40 people present at the event, Neumann was not yet able to comment on Shapiro’s effect on the campus, whether it be positive or negative. “The event was only last Monday… I don’t believe it would be fair to gauge any effects at the moment.”
“I think that it is definitely harder to be a conservative on this campus, as the majority of the population here is liberal,” said Maddie Hume ’16, who attended the event. “However, I think in his lecture he did a bit of bullying and generalizing of the left as well, which I thought made his argument a bit less credible.”
“Shapiro focused his talk on rhetoric and gave the conservatives in the room a way to more effectively present their views on a campus dominated by liberals,” said Allison Tinsey ’14, who also attended the event.
“When he examined different issues, he was simply presenting the facts of each party’s ideology and admitted that both have been wrong. To say that he was being offensive would be to admit that you did not understand the point of his talk” she said.