Benjamin Aaron Shapiro
January 15, 1984
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles (BA)|
Harvard University (JD)
Mor Toledano (m. 2008)
|Relatives||Mara Wilson (cousin)|
Benjamin Aaron Shapiro (//; born January 15, 1984) is an American conservative political commentator, writer, and lawyer. He has written seven books, the first being 2004's Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth; Shapiro began writing this book at age 17. Also at age 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States. He writes columns for Creators Syndicate and Newsweek, serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, which he founded, and hosts The Ben Shapiro Show, a daily political podcast and radio show. He was an editor-at-large of Breitbart News between 2012 and 2016.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Views
- 4 Campus lectures
- 5 Target of antisemitism
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Works
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Shapiro was born in Los Angeles, California. His family is Jewish, having emigrated from Russia and Lithuania. Shapiro developed talents in both violin and piano at a young age, notably having performed at the Israel Bonds Banquet in 1996 at twelve years of age. Shapiro's parents both worked in Hollywood. His mother worked as an executive of a TV company and his father as a composer. Shapiro's cousin is American writer and former child actress Mara Wilson.
Skipping two grades (third and ninth), Shapiro went from Walter Reed Middle School to Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles where he graduated in 2000 at age 16. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, at age 20, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and then cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007. He then practiced law at Goodwin Procter. As of March 2012[update] he ran an independent legal consultancy firm, Benjamin Shapiro Legal Consulting, in Los Angeles.
Shapiro became interested in politics at a young age. He started a nationally syndicated column when he was 17 and had written two books by age 21.
In his 2004 book Brainwashed, Shapiro argues that students are not exposed to a variety of viewpoints at universities and that those who do not have strong opinions will be overwhelmed by an atmosphere dominated by liberal instructors even if discussion is encouraged in classrooms.
In 2011, HarperCollins published Shapiro's fourth book, Primetime Propaganda The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV, in which Shapiro argues that Hollywood has a left-wing agenda that it actively promotes through prime-time entertainment programming. In the book, the producers of Happy Days and M*A*S*H say they pursued a pro-pacifist, anti-Vietnam-War agenda in those series. The same year Primetime Propaganda came out, Shapiro became a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
As a columnist
In 2012, Shapiro became editor-at-large of Breitbart News, a conservative website founded by Andrew Breitbart. In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from his position as editor-at-large of Breitbart News following what he characterized as the website's lack of support for reporter Michelle Fields in response to her alleged assault by Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's former campaign manager. After Shapiro's departure, Breitbart published a piece saying "Ben Shapiro betrays loyal Breitbart readers in pursuit of Fox News contributorship", which Breitbart later deleted.
On February 7, 2013, Shapiro published an article citing unspecified Senate sources who said that a group named "Friends of Hamas" was among foreign contributors to the political campaign of Chuck Hagel, a former U.S. Senator awaiting confirmation as Secretary of Defense as a nominee of President Barack Obama, but weeks later Slate reporter David Weigel reported there was no evidence such a group existed. Shapiro told Weigel that the story he published was "the entirety of the information [he] had."
Podcasts and radio
In July 2015, Shapiro and transgender rights activist Zoey Tur were on Dr. Drew On Call to discuss Caitlyn Jenner's receipt of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. After Shapiro repeatedly referred to Tur with male pronouns, Tur grabbed his neck and threatened on air to "send him home in an ambulance". Shapiro later filed a police report.
Shapiro founded The Daily Wire on September 21, 2015. He is editor-in-chief as well as a host of his online political podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, broadcast every weekday. As of November 2017[update], the podcast was downloaded 10 million times each month. Westwood One began syndicating The Ben Shapiro Show to radio in 2018. In 2018, Politico described the podcast as "massively popular". Multiple companies dropped their sponsorships from Shapiro's show after he said at the 2019 anti-abortion rally March for Life that he would not kill "baby Hitler" because he was a baby, as a response to the abortion-rights argument that abortions lower crime rates. He responded by writing that the media had taken his statement out of context "for purposes of clicks and mockery", and likened the media coverage of his statement to the wide inaccurate reporting of the January 2019 Lincoln Memorial confrontation which occurred near the March for Life.
By 2016 he was one of the hosts for KRLA's "The Morning Answer", a conservative radio show. Internal emails showed that Shapiro faced pressure from Salem Media executives, the syndicate that owned the show, to be more supportive of Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Shapiro however remained highly critical of Trump throughout the election.
The New Yorker, Haaretz and Vox have described Shapiro as "right-wing." Shapiro's views have been described by The New York Times as "extremely conservative." Shapiro, however, in a 2016 interview with The Rubin Report's Dave Rubin, described himself as "basically a libertarian." He accuses contemporary liberals of creating an imaginary "hierarchy of victimhood" and glorifying perceived victims, leading to identity politics;[disputed ] The Times describes this as his central talking point. He has argued in his books that the left[who?] has used its dominance of cinema and TV to push its agenda.
In 2006, Shapiro called for sedition laws to be reinstated. He cited speeches critical of the Bush administration by Democrats Al Gore, John Kerry and Howard Dean as "disloyal" and seditious. Shapiro later described President Barack Obama as a "philosophical fascist."
In September 2017, during an interview with Dan Harris of ABC's Nightline, Shapiro strongly criticized the alt-right movement, stating, "It is a garbage movement composed of garbage ideas. It has nothing to do with Constitutional Conservatism."
Shapiro has called for lowering taxes on the very wealthy. He has also backed privatizing social security, criminalizing abortion, and repealing the Affordable Care Act. Shapiro has acknowledged that climate change is occurring, but questioned "what percentage of global warming is attributable to human activity."
In a 2014 YouTube video titled "The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority", Shapiro said "We're above 800 million Muslims who are radicalised – more than half the Muslims on earth. That's not a minority...the myth of the tiny radical Muslim minority is just that: it's a myth". An analysis of the video by PolitiFact and Channel 4 disputed Shapiro's contentions.
Shapiro has been accused of inciting Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette following the release of an RCMP document presented at Bissonnette's sentencing hearing that showed that the murderer checked in on the Twitter feed of Shapiro 93 times in the month leading up to the shooting. Shapiro condemned the attack, disputed the accusations against him, and called Bissonnette "evil piece of human crap".
Writing in October 2017, in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, Shapiro argued that "banning all guns would be unwise as well as immoral," but "we must balance the need and right to firearms with public policy concerns, including the risk that a machine gun will be used in public." Shapiro suggested that policy makers "should look at ways of enforcing federal laws banning the sale of guns to the mentally ill."
Shapiro has argued that African-Americans were historically victims of injustice in the United States but that they are not victims of widespread systemic injustice today. Shapiro has dismissed the idea that the United States was founded on slavery and has asserted America "was founded in spite of slavery." In 2017, Shapiro argued that "The idea that black people in the United States are disproportionately poor because America is racist; that's just not true." Writing in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting, Shapiro argued that "the confederate flag should not be displayed on state grounds, but is perfectly appropriate for display at war memorials."
In a January 2019 New York Times interview, Representative Steve King (R-IA) asked, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" He was subsequently condemned by numerous Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of the House Republican leadership. Shapiro called for both King to be censured and for a primary challenge against King.
In 2003, Shapiro published a column demanding that Israel "transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper." Citing precedents from World War II, Shapiro insisted that "expelling a hostile population is a commonly-used and generally effective way of preventing violent entanglements." During the same article, Shapiro asserted that "The ideology of the Palestinian population is indistinguishable from that of the terrorist leadership." Jeffrey Goldberg was highly critical of these comments and cited them as an example of Shapiro's "fascist" behavior. Shapiro later reversed his view on the West Bank issue, saying it was "both inhumane and impractical."
In 2007, Shapiro argued that "the Palestinian-Arab population is rotten to the core" and asserted that because "an entire population [is] corrupted by bloodthirsty anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism," punishing Palestinian leaders is insufficient: "Collective choices require collective treatment."
In December 2017, Shapiro supported the decision of President Trump to inaugurate the new American embassy in Jerusalem.
Shapiro supported Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primaries and openly rejected the candidacy of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, in the general election. Shapiro denounced Trump and many of his supporters for what he considered to be dangerous, racist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and argued that they were not true conservatives. On March 4, 2016, he posted a column on The Daily Wire in which he stated that he would never vote for Trump. He wrote:
I will never vote for Donald Trump because I stand with certain principles. I stand with small government and free markets and religious freedom and personal responsibility. Donald Trump stands against all of these things. He stands for Planned Parenthood and trade restrictions and targeting of political enemies and an anti-morality foreign policy and government domination of religion and nastiness toward women and tacit appeals to racism and unbounded personal power. I stand with the Constitution of the United States, and its embedded protection of my God-given rights through governmental checks and balances. Donald Trump does not. I stand with conservatism. Donald Trump stands against it.
Shapiro opposed the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling that deemed bans of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. However, he opposes government involvement in marriage, saying, "I think the government stinks at this," and expressing concern that because of the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, at some point the government may try to force religious institutions to perform same-sex weddings against their will. According to Slate, Shapiro has described homosexual activity as a sin. He has said that "a man and a woman do a better job of raising a child than two men or two women". He has stated he doesn't feel same-sex marriage should be taught to students in schools, saying, "In California they've already passed laws that you have to teach same-sex marriage in public schools, for example... I went to public school for elementary school and junior high, I don't know why the government is teaching me anything about this stuff. This is for my parents to teach me. This is a values thing". He also states, "I'm very much anti gay-marriage in the social sense. As a religious person I think homosexuality is a sin, I think that lots of things are sins that people engage in, I think they should be free to engage in them." In 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center highlighted remarks by Shapiro where he said that the United States "is not a country that discriminates against homosexuals" and that "there is a vastly minute amount of discrimination against gays in this country."
Shapiro believes transgender people and their supporters deny what he considers biological reality, writing "You can't magically change your gender. You can't magically change your sex. You can't magically change your age." He has also described being transgender as a mental disorder and equated it with gender dysphoria.
Shapiro frequently speaks at a number of college campuses across the United States, often to present his conservative viewpoint on more controversial subjects. He spoke at 37 campuses between early 2016 and late 2017.
California State University, Los Angeles
Some students and faculty members at California State University, Los Angeles objected to a speech that Shapiro, who was then an editor at Breitbart News, was scheduled to hold at the university on February 25, 2016, titled "When Diversity Becomes a Problem". The speech was hosted by the campus chapter of the conservative group Young Americans for Freedom. University president William Covino cancelled the speech three days before it was to take place, with the intention of rescheduling it so that the event could feature various viewpoints on the subject of campus diversity. Covino ultimately reversed his decision, allowing the speech to go on as planned.
The day of the speech, hundreds of student protesters formed human chains, blocking the doors to the event, and staging sit-in protests. When Shapiro began his speech, a protestor pulled the fire alarm. After the speech ended, Shapiro was escorted out by campus police. Three months after the CSULA incident, Young America's Foundation announced it was filing a lawsuit against the university (with Shapiro as one of the plaintiffs), claiming that the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the students were violated by Covino's attempted cancellation of the event, as well as the physical barricading of students from entering or leaving the event.
University of California, Berkeley
On September 14, 2017, Shapiro gave a speech at the invitation of the UC (Berkeley) student organization Berkeley College Republicans where he criticized identity politics. The event involved a large police presence which had been promised by Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ in her August letter that supported free speech. Together, the University and the city of Berkeley spent $600,000 on police and security for the event, which transpired with nine arrests but no major incidents.
Target of antisemitism
After leaving Breitbart News, Shapiro was a frequent target of anti-Semitic rhetoric from the alt-right. According to a 2016 analysis by the Anti-Defamation League, Shapiro was, among journalists, the most frequent target of anti-Semitic tweets.
Shapiro has three sisters. In 2008, he married Mor Toledano, an Israeli of Moroccan descent. His wife is now a medical doctor. Together, they have a daughter, born in 2014, and a son, born in 2016. Shapiro and his wife practice Orthodox Judaism.
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