Interview: Ben Shapiro Talks Bullies
"What makes people feel good on the left, really, at the roots, what makes people feel great on the left, is a sense of unearned moral superiority. It's all they care about," Ben Shapiro tells me during my latest interview. "They wake up in the morning and a lot of them can't point to accomplishments. A lot of them can't point to things that they've done that are worthwhile, but they can point to you. And they can say, well, at least I'm not you. You know, you're the bad guy, I'm the good guy."
This was nowhere more in evidence than during the recent George Zimmerman trial, in which a Hispanic Obama supporter was transformed by media malpractice into the second coming of (former Democratic National Committeeman) Bull Connor. Ben will discuss his best-selling recent book in the context of the Zimmerman trial, and what it says about the bullies of the left, and their enablers in the Obama palace guard MSM.
During our interview, Ben will also discuss:
● How did the American left, which uses buzzwords such as "tolerance" and ""nuance" and diversity," become such rhetorical fist-in-the-face bullies?
● Does the left actively think of themselves as being bullies?
● How the George Zimmerman trial was blue on blue, all the way down.
● How can conservatives be considered bullies by the left, when the left controls so much power and information in the US?
● How a legendary bully like Al Sharpton became, as his boss described him in an NPR interview, "All the things I think that MSNBC is."
● The how-to guide you can learn from Ben's methods of fighting back against the bullying by Time-Warner-CNN-HBO corporate spokesman Piers Morgan
And much more. Click to listen:
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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.
MR. DRISCOLL: This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’re talking with Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com and Ben Shapiro.com. He’s the author of the 2013 book, Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans, and the 2011 book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. [Click here for my 2011 interview with Ben on that book -- Ed] And Ben, thank you for stopping by today.
MR. SHAPIRO: Thanks for having me.
MR. DRISCOLL: Ben, your latest book is Bullies. Today the word “liberal” is still used far too often to describe the left in America, but how did liberals, the left, Democrats, “progressives” – and I’m making air quotes with my fingers as I use that word, become such bullies?
MR. SHAPIRO: Well, I think what's happened over the past hundred years is the left, which always believed that people had to be coerced into doing their bidding, has become more and more egregious in their bully tactics, not just via use of government, but even in bullying individual citizens without the use of government.
And the best way that they've discovered to get people to do things that they don't want to do, is to try and humiliate them into it. So what the left has really focused on, particularly over the last few decades, is trying to paint everybody who disagrees with them as a vicious racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, bad people. We are all bad people. That's why you see, for example, in the last election cycle, Mitt Romney sort of made the case about Barack Obama, that Barack Obama was a good guy and a decent fellow who was not very good at being President, and Barack Obama basically made the case about Romney that he was scum of the earth. And that's how the left wins elections, because they can't win on their own competence. What they do win on is by claiming that anybody who opposes them is just a bad person on a fundamental level.
MR. DRISCOLL: I assume, though, that President Obama and others on the American left don't actively think of themselves as bullies, do they?
MR. SHAPIRO: No. I think that they think of themselves as fighters for righteous truth. And this is -- this is where living in an ivory tower has really helped the left. They live in these echo chambers. And so they truly believe that what they say about politics is not opinion, it's fact. And so they're able to convince themselves that it's all right to slander people as racists without any evidence, because after all, the policies that they support aren't the policies that I support, and therefore they must be racist.
President Obama has made that clear time after time. There's -- the Zimmerman case is a great example of this. And the left has yet to come up with a single -- a single shred of evidence that George Zimmerman was a racist, and yet the entire left has declared not only George Zimmerman to be a racist, but George Zimmerman to be an indicator that there is a broad-based and deep-seeded American racism that still exists, just again, without any sort of evidence. And everybody who thinks that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, or at the very least that there was no convictable evidence there, is actually doing so out of this racism.
Again, evidenceless is the symptom of everything that the left believes. If there were evidence to back up what they were saying, then, you know, they would use it. But they don't have it, and so they have to demonize anyone who opposes them.
MR. DRISCOLL: Ben, this is kind of a long setup, so bear with me for a moment. But what I found fascinating about the Zimmerman trial is that it was really blue on blue all the way down. The judge was a Democrat. CNN reported that there was a potential black juror who was dismissed because he watched Fox News. So if that standard was applied to all of the women who wound up on the jury, then they were all liberal. George Zimmerman supported Obama in 2008, according to his brother in an interview at Breitbart.com. When Barack Obama took office in January of 2009, Newsweek declared “We Are Socialists Now.” And all of the people involved in this were! But when low-information liberal voters watched the news, they likely believed that Trayvon Martin, whom Obama declared to be his surrogate son, was shot by a white conservative. How did this happen?
MR. SHAPIRO: That's exactly right. Well, I mean, the way that it happened is that the left desperately looks for any sort of racial incident that they can find. And if they can't find one, they manufacture one.
And in this case, they absolutely manufactured one. As you mentioned, George Zimmerman was a Hispanic Democrat. He somehow turned into a white conservative. And because of that, the left was able to somehow paint this as a case of white on black violence, and not only white on black violence, but racially motivated white on black violence.
And it really was the greatest attempt by the press, certainly, I would say in my lifetime, to slander an innocent person in the name of greater racial merit. And this is how the press sells papers. This is how the press makes itself feel good at night.
What makes them feel good is to continue to perpetuate the myth that the America's a deeply racist country, because so long as America is deeply racist, that means that we need massive government interventionism. Remember a couple weeks before the Zimmerman trial actually began, the Supreme Court struck down the law -- the section of the Voting Rights Act that suggested that we should use standards from the 1960s in order to evaluate whether states were actually enacting racially biased voting laws. The Supreme Court said, look, this is not 1960 anymore.
The left actually does believe that it is still 1960. The left thinks -- and the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial is proof of this -- the left truly, truly, deeply believes that what would happen is Zimmerman got off, is that lynchings would become the rage again. They believe that if the Voting Rights Act was struck down, then immediately states would begin banning black people from the polls.
They have to believe that because it's the only way to justify massive government action, which is really the end that they're looking for. So that's how a case of, as you mentioned, blue on blue violence, and really racial minority on racial minority violence, turns into a case of a white versus black issue, where a Hispanic guy kills a black guy and it's white people's fault.
MR. DRISCOLL: Also, the blue on blue nature of the Zimmerman trial highlights something you discuss in at least a couple of books. Primetime Propaganda was subtitled, “How the Left Took Over Your TV.” And that was around the time that the left had taken over academia, and by the time of the 2008 election, Wall Street as well. And the US military has become a tool for the left to implement their theories on sexual relations, and even radical environmentalism. How can the right be so culturally impotent, and yet, in the left’s eyes, such bullies?
MR. SHAPIRO: Well, I mean, I think that they're deeply connected. All of culture is about narrative. It's about storytelling. And the left is very, very good at storytelling. It's the only thing they're good at. They're not good at evidence; they're not good at policy. They're very good at telling a story in which they are the white hats and we are the black hats.
And if you look at conservatives, there -- all conservatives want to be Paul Ryan. They want to sit there and look like an accountant and explain the ins and outs of the latest CBO report. Democrats have no interest in that. They all want to be Jerry Bruckheimer, right, who happens to be a Republican -- but they all want to be a bunch of -- a bunch of, you know, Woody Allen types who are going to sit there and tell you a story that changes your mind on some issue or another.
But what's funny is that when conservatives point this out, the left gets -- they get crazy. I mean, when Dan Quayle pointed out that Murphy Brown had changed minds about single motherhood, the left went completely nuts. When Candice Bergen, who played Murphy Brown, said a few years later that Dan Quayle was absolutely right, the left kind of shrugged. When people like me suggested the Will and Grace had had an marked impact on how people think about gay rights in this country, people scoffed. Hey, you know, that was these crazy right-wingers with their theories about propaganda. When Joe Biden said the exact same thing, the entire left nodded along.
The left understands exactly what it's doing in terms of narrative. That's why these stories matter. That's why the Zimmerman story was a story. The story mattered.
If the left had to go to statistics, if the left had to reveal, for example, that 6,600 black people are killed every year, and ninety-three percent of those are killed by other black people, that doesn't help their case. If the left had to reveal that four times as many white people are killed by black people as black people are killed by white people every year, that would not help their case. Statistics, evidence, proof, those things don't help the left. What helps the left is stories that frighten people. It's the kind of stories that make Melissa Harris-Perry talk about how when she tucks her kids in at night, they're crying because they're afraid that someone like George Zimmerman is going to stalk them and kill them in the streets, despite the fact that any black kid in America has a much higher chance of being killed by another black person than by a white person.
So all that matters to the left is story. And the truth is, most people, left and right, think in terms of story. This is why Reagan was so popular for people on the right. He's the only president in -- really in the last hundred years for Republicans, who really knew how to tell a story. And that was an amazing skill. Most Republicans don't know how to tell a story. And because they've been shut out of the culture so long, they tend to not only ignore the culture but denigrate the culture as though it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what happens in the movies. It doesn't matter what happens on TV. All of that's frivolous. What really matters is this latest Heritage Foundation report.
Well, no. I mean, what really matters to the vast bulk of the American people is what they watched on Big Bang Theory that night.
MR. DRISCOLL: I was living in New Jersey at the time, so I vividly remember when Al Sharpton originally burst onto the local New York political scene in the mid-to-late 1980s, first on the Morton Downey Jr. Show, and then ginning up the Tawana Brawley incident. Over 20 years later, in 2011, MSNBC president Phil Griffin told NPR, “I’m a big fan of the Reverend Sharpton. I’ve known him quite a bit. He’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.” How did somebody like Sharpton, who’s one of the ultimate bullies, rehabilitate his reputation, to the point where he became first a powerbroker in New York City politics, then a Democrat presidential candidate, and now the thoughtful, provocative, entertaining all around swell guy who’s all things that MSNBC is?”
MR. SHAPIRO: He never had to rehabilitate himself. Remember, the left never cared about Tawana Brawley. As soon as the Tawana Brawley case exploded, it disappeared from the newspapers. Nobody ever followed up to see whether Sharpton personally paid out, which of course he never did. He had all of his supporters pay the Tawana Brawley settlement.
So it was the same thing with Duke lacrosse. Duke lacrosse was another case where Sharpton got himself involved, and really pilloried a bunch of innocent people, and people who were idiots, but people who were innocent. And you know, the fallout was never blamed on Sharpton. He did the same thing in the Zimmerman case as well.
Al Sharpton's been able to get away with it, because in this country, the narrative that the left has bought into, what makes people feel good on the left, really, at the roots, what makes people feel great on the left, is a sense of unearned moral superiority. It's all they care about.
They wake up in the morning and a lot of them can't point to accomplishments. A lot of them can't point to things that they've done that are worthwhile, but they can point to you. And they can say, well, at least I'm not you. You know, you're the bad guy, I'm the good guy.
Well, the same thing applies in race relations. White people on the left look at Al Sharpton and because they have this unearned sense of white guilt, that grants -- the guilt actually grants them superiority. It's an unearned sense of moral superiority. They look at other white folks and they say, well, you know, you're racist, but I'm not racist. You know how I'm not racist, because I look at Al Sharpton, and I see a really good guy. That's my proof that I'm not a racist. Right? And my proof that I'm not a racist is that you're a racist.
And so that's how Al Sharpton has been able to get away with this race hucksterism for years upon years upon years upon years, even as the black population sinks deeper into really unemployment, into misery, into higher levels of unwed motherhood.
If you look at the black community when Al Sharpton really came to prominence versus the black community now, they're significantly worse off than they were thirty, thirty-five years ago. The next generation of the black community is less educated than the last generation was. And they were less educated -- and that generation is less educated than the generation before that.
[Update: Shapiro emails that he may have misspoken here: "Black education levels have been rising generation over generation, but good-paying jobs and overall wealth have not been rising close to commensurate with that education over the last 30 years." -- Ed]
And that's an increasing problem. And that's a problem that continues to be ignored on a regular basis by folks on the left, because again, it's not important to solve problems; it's only important to feel good about yourself. And the way you feel good about yourself is by ignoring problems and blaming other people for the problems that, you know, black folks encounter in this country.
MR. DRISCOLL: Ben, as I mentioned a few moments ago, in January of 2009, the left openly announced to the world, “We Are All Socialists Now.” James Carville predicted a 40 year uninterrupted rule by the left in DC. Then five minutes later, the Tea Party showed up as an antidote to such monolithic thinking. How badly did their appearance on the national scene unnerve the left?
MR. SHAPIRO: Oh, the Tea Party has completely destroyed the confidence of the left. That's why the left has to claim that we're a bunch of radical crazies who are anarchists, in essence. They -- they try to claim that people who are libertarian are not actually libertarian, they're actually anarchists.
And that's what -- you know you're doing something right when the left calls you radical. The left never called John McCain a radical, because John McCain never did anything right. The left tried to label Mitt Romney a radical, and that was probably the least successful portion of their campaign. Because he's not a radical.
The left is labeling the Tea Party radical because they have to paint the Tea Party somehow. That's why they call them racist. That's why they call them sexist, bigot, homophobes. It's the only way the left knows.
The left only has three lines of attack. None of them are attacks on ev -- based on evidence. There are three lines of attack on any politician and really on any person: that you are corrupt, mean, or stupid. Those are the three lines of attack. And every single politician, every single movement, falls along those lines.
So if you look at the Tea Party, what the left claims about the Tea Party is that it's two out of three. They don't claim that the Tea Party is corrupt, because it's difficult to claim that the Tea Party is corrupt. Instead what they claim is that they're mean and stupid.
They have a tough time with stupid, because the fact is, there are a lot of smart people who are members of the Tea Party, although they try to claim that people like Sara Palin are dumb. But they do get some ground on the mean issue, mainly because the media tries to paint the right as mean.
The fact is this. You know, Andrew Breitbart, who was one of my mentors, Andrew used to say that the media is everything. The media is everything. The media is the only thing that matters in this country. It's worth ten points to Democrats in every election cycle. It's worth ten points to the hard left in every election cycle.
That's how you can have a dramatically unsuccessful, incompetent, truly horrible President undermining American principles, get reelected in a landslide. That only takes place because you have a media that is monolithically chanting the same narrative over and over: Tea Party bad, Democrats good.
MR. DRISCOLL: Ben, as we get near the end of the interview, I have to ask you the obvious question: In January, you refused to knuckle under Piers Morgan's attempt at bullying. Could you talk a little bit about how you prepared for that and how you fought back?
MR. SHAPIRO: Yeah, I mean the easiest way to fight back against the left is to debunk the tactics that they use in front of them. Everything the left does is a magic show. It's all misdirection. They don't want to argue evidence; they want to argue story.
So what you do is you take that away from them in the first thirty seconds of a debate. Every debate is won in the first thirty seconds. So in the first thirty seconds of that debate I knew what Piers' tactics were, because I'd seen him do it repeatedly, and that was to demonize everybody who opposed him as, you know, somebody who didn't care about the kids in Sandy Hook. After all, if they did care about the kids in Sandy Hook, then they would agree with him on gun control.
So I simply said that. And it sort of caved him in. I mean, once I said to Piers, look, you're standing on the graves of the kids at Sandy Hook to push your agenda. We all agree that kids shouldn't be killed. We're just trying to figure out the best way to accomplish that. Please stop being a jackass.
Everybody recognized the truth of that statement. Everybody loves the magic show until somebody explains how the trick is done. Once you know how the trick is done, then the magic sort of falls away.
What's truly amazing about President Obama, is that the Republicans have refused to call out his tricks. They keep falling into the same trap over and over and over. And it doesn't matter what the issue is.
On immigration, for example, the Republican party never should have gotten into this battle on immigration in the first place. They should have said to President Obama, look, we know what you're doing here. You don't care about illegal immigrants. You really don't. If you cared about illegal immigrants, you would have done something about them in your first term. Everybody knows that you're grandstanding here in order to pillory us as bad people. So here's what we're going to do. We're going to pass two separate bills. The first bill is we are going to pass a border security bill right here, right now. You sign it, and then we'll start talking about bill part two. Otherwise, this is a nonstarter.
And that's not because we don't like Hispanics. We love Hispanics. It's not because we don't like immigrants. We love immigrants. But the fact is, everyone in the country agrees that we have to secure -- everyone -- Democrat, Republican, Independent -- we all agree we have to secure the border first and then deal with the people who are here. If you continue to grandstand, we're going to continue to call you out for it.
The problem is, the Republicans will never call Obama out. They keep assuming good intentions, and he's just bad at his job. He's not bad at his job. He's very good at his job. His job is to paint Republicans as mean and nasty. That's his only job. He doesn't have to be good at anything else.
The same thing is true on Obamacare. On the Obamacare debate, that debate never should have come down to who cares more about the people of America. We all care about the people of America, supposedly. I mean, they pretend to, anyway.
So instead of you going out there and saying that you care more, and if we cared more about, you know, uninsured people, we would just do what you want us to do about it, why wouldn't we go out -- what we should have said is we should have said, look, here's how we're going to deal with the uninsured problem in America. We're going to lower the cost of medical care. We're going to lower the cost of medical care by making it easier for doctors to get into the business. The easiest way for doctors to get into the business is to remove burdensome regulation.
You don't care enough about doctors to actually let them get into the business. You want doctors to have to spend 250,000 dollars in order to become doctors. You want to make sure that doctors are paid less than what they're worth, because you're selfish, and because you're a socialist, and because you want to redistribute everybody's income so it makes you feel good.
None of that is going to take care of the uninsured. We're unwilling to do that, because we want to be perceived as nice folks. And this is -- as long as we want to be perceived as nice folks, we're going to continue to lose, because the great irony of all this is the nicer we are, the meaner the American people think we are.
MR. DRISCOLL: And last question. Whoever the GOP's presidential candidate in 2016 and his advisors are, do you think that they'll finally figure out how to best the left-wing bullies?
MR. SHAPIRO: No. The typical GOP establishment is not ready for this battle. Right? You have folks like Karl Rove, who's firmly convinced that the way that you win elections is not by -- is not by painting yourself against an enemy. The way that you win elections is by painting yourself as a nice person. It is impossible in this life to paint yourself as a nice person.
Ask anybody who's ever broken up with a girlfriend, no matter what you say to your girlfriend after you break up with her, she's going to think you're a jerk. Right? And the same thing is true with the American people.
The American people have broken up with conservativism. You're not going to convince them that conservativism is the way to go by being really nice. The way that you're going to convince them that conservatism is the way to go is because this is a two-party system, and we can paint the other side as mean and nasty as they are. And they are. They're mean and nasty and they're horrible people. I mean, they truly are.
These are the same people, who have, for three generations, kept the black community in absolute poverty and educational inequality. This is the same group of people who have stood by and watched millions of babies be aborted. These are the same -- in the name -- in the name of free sex.
I mean, really, if you took the agenda of 1950's Mad Men and put it next to the agenda of 1990's feminists, they are indistinguishable. They are exactly the same. But until we are willing to say that sort of stuff, until we are willing to go on often and question the motives of the people who have done this, we're going to continue to lose.
At a certain point, ignorance becomes sin. We're now sixty years into this great experiment known as the liberal takeover of the United States. And the United States is much worse off for it. It's about time for us to call these folks out, because if we don't, we're going to continue to lose.
MR. DRISCOLL: This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’ve been talking with Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com and Ben Shapiro.com. He’s the author of the 2013 book, Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans. It’s published by Simon and Schuster and available from Amazon.com and your local bookstore. And Ben, thank you once again for stopping by today.
MR. SHAPIRO: Thanks so much.
(End of recording; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.)
Transcribed by eScribers.net, with minor revisions (including hyperlinks) by Ed Driscoll.