On Thursday, Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at the University of California, Berkeley, which has tried very hard for months to prevent him from speaking.
Some Background on Ben Shapiro
Shapiro is a reasonably well-known talk show host with conservative views, multiple books to his credit, and a superb academic record.
He has strident views, but he is neither a kook nor a (metaphorical) bomb-thrower. (With Antifa rioters throwing real bombs, you have to add “metaphorical” to the Shapiro description.)
He’s smart and extremely well-educated: As an undergraduate at UCLA, he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Harvard Law, he graduated cum laude. He practiced briefly with a top national firm in Los Angeles before turning to journalism.
Smears against Shapiro
The left has smeared him as a “fascist” and a “white nationalist.” He is neither. He is not a Trump supporter and, in private life, an orthodox Jew.
He has the odd and unhappy distinction of being attacked both as a Jew (by numerous anti-Semites, a group increasingly prominent on the left) and as an Alt-Right White Nationalist.
His association with Andrew Breitbart, with whom he work for several years, is another lightning rod. Shapiro continued to work with Breitbart.com after the founder’s death but resigned on grounds of principle when the news outlet refused to defend one of its reporters allegedly manhandled by Corey Lewandowski, then-campaign manager for Donald Trump.
The left and anti-Israel activists have decided Shapiro should be prevented from speaking on college campuses, including public universities, and the target of physical confrontations when he does try to speak.
In 2016, protesters form human chains around an auditorium at Cal State LA to prevent him from speaking. (They failed.)
Later that year, DePaul University banned him from setting foot on their campus. He was banned from participating in an event to which he had been invited. DePaul, it should be noted, is one of the worst offenders against free speech in the country. Their treatment of Shapiro was par for their substandard course.
When Shapiro appeared on television with a transgender activist, Zoey Tur, he was threatened with physical assault again after referring to Tur with male terminology.
Berkeley is so fearful of Shapiro’s speech that they are closing off nearby buildings on the day of the event.
They are also–incredibly–offering psychological counseling for Cal students traumatized by the mere thought of Shapiro speaking on campus. That’s a real thing.
What is also sadly read: anarchists and crazies are likely to show up and riot.
The willingness to use violence to stop opposing views is a fundamental threat to our constitutional democracy. That willingness is rising, and people of all political stripes need to speak out clearly and forcefully against it.