Ben Shapiro and the West’s Moral Vision

May 25, 2019 by

by Andrew T Walker, Public Discourse:

One might expect a book by Ben Shapiro to be about the task of “owning the libs” or “drinking liberal tears.” In fact, the reader comes away with a starkly different impression. In The Right Side of History, Shapiro argues that the cultural and political malaise of contemporary America is due to its being severed from its Judeo-Christian roots.

Ben Shapiro is one of the most influential conservative voices in America. His podcast is one of the most downloaded in America, and he has over a million followers on Twitter. YouTube clips of Shapiro taking campus progressives to task and exposing their shallow thinking have gone viral. He has become a go-to voice for conservatives who rely on digital platforms to advance their movement.

After graduating from Harvard Law School at the age of twenty-three, Shapiro first became notorious for his shock-jock bombast. I became familiar with Shapiro when he was with Breitbart news, the controversial right-wing news website. I feared that Breitbart’s incendiary brand portended more bravado than substance from Shapiro.

Why is Shapiro so popular with conservatives and why is he, an Orthodox Jew, also a favorite of conservative Christians? One observes in Shapiro similar traits that conservatives saw in William F. Buckley, Jr. He possesses a fearless tenacity to do battle in the war of ideas. Yet, like Buckley, Shapiro is no scold. He’s a happy warrior who ventures into spaces held sacred by progressives. His courage is infectious and inspiring to a generation of conservatives who are told to hide their convictions.

Religious conservatives are drawn to Shapiro because he anchors his worldview in an unapologetic Judeo-Christian worldview. He has become an apologist for Western civilization while castigating a figure like Nietzsche as a super-villain and Hitler as his heir-apparent. His understanding of morality pairs nicely—though incompletely—with a Christian understanding of the world. He offers clarity and acerbic irreverence to a culture held hostage to trigger-warnings and micro-aggressions. Where the regimes of political correctness and grievance stifle free speech, Shapiro attacks both with a vigorous wit and a brain that sometimes processes faster than he can speak. While Shapiro can certainly speak in tones that make me wince, overall, his trajectory has been one of increasing intellectual rigor and seriousness.

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