That Shapiro Meltdown: What It Says About Him—and Conservatism, Inc.

That Shapiro Meltdown: What It Says About Him—and Conservatism, Inc.. By James Fitzpatrick.

Ben Shapiro got DESTROYED, as one of his own fanboy videos might put it—and as he has admitted. Shapiro surprisingly lost his cool and cut short a BBC interview with UK media Big Foot Andrew Neil. …

Shapiro was expecting to promote his new book The Right Side Of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great, the latest in the long series of Beltway Right slop defining the West and/or conservatism as post-Enlightenment prattle about “individualism” or “liberty” or “Judeo-Christianity” or anything other than a people (white, by the way) with a real culture and civilization.

In his book, Shapiro bemoans “division” and the supposed inability of people today to debate rationally (!!). He also proclaims his criticism of Trump — Shapiro was a Never-Trumper and ostentatiously split with Breitbart on the issue. …

In other words, Shapiro expected to appear in his traditional American role as gatekeeper, eager to condemn populist nationalism and to portray himself as an “intellectual conservative.”

But Shapiro’s popularity, such as it is, depends on titillating a conservative audience. Like every would-be celeb in Conservatism Inc., he must simultaneously push and enforce boundaries. This inevitably leads to problems. …

In fairness to Shapiro, Neil was engaging in “Point and Sputter” journalism (essentially all journalism these days) in which a statement, often quite old, is taken out of context and sprung on a guest during an interview ostensibly about something else, followed by a display of faux outrage.

Yet Neil had a substantive reason for using this tactic and noting other statements Shapiro made in the past. The whole point of Shapiro’s book is to defend civil debate, but Shapiro’s schtick itself consists of baiting people. …

Saying “race is real,” “homosexuality is a mental illness,” or “transgenderism is a mental disorder” can all be provocative or offensive statements at different times and places. But baiting transgenders is edgy on campus while safe (for now) within the general conservative movement.

In contrast, saying “race is real” is a career-ender for conservatives — very largely thanks to people like Shapiro. In an interview with the Los Angeles Loyolan, Shapiro makes sure to virtue signal against “white supremacy,” the “alt-right” and the “evil” (Shapiro literally uses the term) Richard Spencer. …

Shapiro has a platform precisely because he is allowed to have a platform. He complains about campus protests and online abuse he suffered during the 2016 campaign, but I can confidently predict that Ben Shapiro will never lose his Stripe account, his PayPal account, his checking account. He will never lose his Twitter — while his critics (some undoubtedly abusive but definitely not all) mostly have.

He is “New Media” only insofar as he is promoted by Legacy Media, and because any competition to his right, including the grassroots activists who drove the 2015-2016 Trump insurgency, is being persecuted and purged by Big Tech. That’s the only reason why people need to be in “the tent” at all—to be allowed to earn a living. …

Neil was right when he identified the lack of intellectual energy coming from the Beltway Right. Again, partially this is because most of the incisive critics have been deplatformed, cut off from financial resources, or simply intimidated via direct threats. Yet it’s also because the Beltway Conservative Movement is fundamentally a product of corporate donors. Not surprisingly, they aren’t coming up with anything except the usual calls for tax cuts and deregulation. …

Ben Shapiro has no stake in political success, no skin in the game. His job is to remain in the political sweet spot of triggering the hysterical campus left, while gatekeeping for the Beltway Right. This allows him Main Stream Media access, fundraising, and bookselling opportunities, while repeating the same tired slogans like it’s still the Reagan years.

Yes I know there are Ben Shapio fans out there, and he says some good things, but he is controlled opposition and was anti-Trump.