Shapiro, Prager, and Bringing Real Debate to Campus
When I first got to this campus I quickly noticed that the political conversation was lackluster. It disappointed me that, in politically important and hostile times like these, people were not talking about the things that matter in the world. This was especially problematic for a campus like ours that holds itself to high intellectual standards.
As a result, last year, I partnered with the College Republicans to arrange for Ben Shapiro – a Harvard-educated attorney – to join us on campus. I don’t think anyone would deny that the speech sparked a conversation. Articles specifically referencing the event and its content were published in The Commentator, The Forward, The Daily Wire, and other prestigious publications.
But, I must say, I was a bit disappointed with the kind of conversation it sparked. Instead of an exchange of ideas, I was reminded of the sort of sentiment reminiscent of politics today, filled with loud rhetoric and little substance. What lacked was the intellectually driven commentary I had hoped for.
Almost one year later, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) has invited Dennis Prager – a Columbia-educated author and scholar – to speak. Some of the reaction has been largely the same.
“These are conservatives with an opinion. They are something that you don’t often find in an academic setting. And that is why YAF is so committed to bringing them.”
Since his lecture was announced, Dennis Prager has been compared to Linda Sarsour, David Duke, Roy Moore, and Anne Coulter, by both YU students and alumni.
Here is a quick breakdown of who those people are, for those who are unaware: Sarsour has ties to Hamas, Coulter is an alleged anti-Semite, Moore has been accused of pedophilia, and Duke is a known white supremacist and neo-Nazi.
Let me be clear. If you are comparing a Jewish political commentator who spends his time making videos about the Ten Commandments to a radical Islamist or a neo-Nazi, then it is not Conservatives who are the problem. The speakers and lectures are not the problem. You are the problem.
Furthermore, those who are confused would benefit from a history lesson. Namely, that white supremacists typically don’t enlist Jews as their allies.
There is a serious problem in this country if people are comparing academic scholars to people with diametrically opposed views from those scholars. What’s worse, it seems that this type of reactionary response is aimed specifically at YAF speakers because they are conservative.
If you are a Leftist who disagrees with the speakers YAF has brought to campus, there are two ways you can react. You can do what you have done thus far. Cry, complain, and go after the students who have spent hours making incredibly difficult events like this happen. Alternatively, you can invite a liberal speaker to campus as a progressive counterweight. You can contribute to the conversation instead of trying to silence it. Then we can benefit from a free-market of ideas. But, alas, the Left never was a big fan of the free market.
Instead, the only Leftist events conservative students have the chance to attend are ones about “starting a revolution” through “civil disobedience” that are advertised with a picture of a masked man resembling ANTIFA, which seems more like a call for violence then for competing political ideas.
Dennis Prager is reasonable. Ben Shapiro is reasonable. If you are looking for organizations worthy of outrage, ANTIFA – classified as a domestic terrorist organization – is not reasonable. This is the contrast between left-wing students and the YAF chapter on this campus. I am confident that reasonable people will be able to see the difference and judge who is contributing to the expansion of debate and conversation in this educational institution.
That is why I decided to bring a YAF chapter to this campus. Because YAF is committed to making the general populace aware of the Left’s blind ignorance fueled by political ideology instead of common decency and rationality – lecture by lecture, event by event, movement by movement.
Shapiro and Prager have authored many books on conservative thought. One has the second-largest podcast in the country, while the other is a nationally-syndicated talk show host. These are not white supremacists, these are not terrorists, these are not provocateurs.
These are conservatives.
These are conservatives with an opinion. They are something that you don’t often find in an academic setting. And that is why YAF is so committed to bringing them. The boilerplate left-wing tactic to always refer to these speakers as “divisive” is a cop-out. The credentials of the two individuals YAF has arranged to bring to campus are second-to-none. But it is common for the modern Left to point fingers and name call instead of opening their ears and minds to a difference of opinion.
I can’t even say that I agree with everything Shapiro or Prager says. I don’t think any free thinker agrees with everything any one person says. But it is specifically the topics where I and someone like Dennis Prager disagree that I will be focusing on the most when he speaks, because that is the way to best learn something new and expand my political horizons. I wish the Leftists would join me.
I am confident that as long as liberty prevails, speakers with a broad range of viewpoints will come to campus.
But for now, I’ll see you on December 4th.