It was only a matter of time. A New York Times opinion piece attacked conservative opinion media outlets as prejudiced and cowardly (including a rising conservative star) while purportedly criticizing right-wing groupthink in “The Hollow Bravery of Ben Shapiro,” posted Thursday.
Contributor Jane Coaston, a former MTV news writer who has recently penned liberal political essays for the New York Times Sunday magazine, smeared influential conservative writer and speaker Ben Shapiro (who has appeared in threatening environments when delivering talks on liberal college campuses) as cowardly for not challenging his fans' awful right-wing opinions.
Keep in mind that Shapiro opposed Trump, which hardly ingratiates him to the people Coaston is considering.
Ben Shapiro, the conservative writer, prides himself on speaking bold truths to liberal power. His shtick goes something like this: Set up a speech in a progressive bastion, ideally a college campus full of coastal elites who have never left their bubble. Spar with snowflakes who are offended by something he says about race or gender and perhaps even believe he never should have been invited in the first place. Post the exchange on the internet and use it as proof that the cultural consensus is stacked dramatically against conservatives....
It’s true that campuses tend to be hostile places to conservatives like Mr. Shapiro, Charles Murray and Heather Mac Donald. But the notion that they are the cultural underdogs is bogus.
One eagerly awaits evidence for this assertion, but Coaston doesn’t even try to back it up.
What Mr. Shapiro does on campus is shadow boxing meant to pander to his conservative fans whose values dominate mainstream American culture. If he wanted to be genuinely brave, he’d challenge some of the wrongheaded ideas held by his right-wing fans. Instead, he uses his megaphone -- the website The Daily Wire -- to reinforce what they already believe.
To take only the most recent example: On Monday, The Daily Wire published a video that depicted Native Americans as animated savages before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. In one slide, the video lists Native American achievements as consisting of dreamcatchers, tomahawks and cannibalism....
Shapiro had that video taken down and apologized for leaving it up on the Daily Wire as long as he had.
Then she switched targets:
Mr. Shapiro and The Daily Wire aren’t alone in pandering to their readers. Over at the website The Federalist, the editors took the opportunity of Columbus Day not to examine its complicated legacy or illuminate some overlooked aspect of history but to publish an article titled “Why ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ Is Far Worse Than Columbus Day,” which makes the case that the historical violence of some Native American peoples wash Columbus clean of his genocidal sins....That same publication had a “black crime” tag on its website until two weeks ago, which included an article titled “If You Don’t Want Police to Shoot You, Don’t Resist Arrest.” The subheading: “Every time I hear of a black man getting killed by the cops, he’s almost always a criminal thug I have no desire to defend.”
The author of the piece on police shootings cited above is black, which would have been worth mentioning, especially when you’re hinting at racism. (Disclosure: The author of this Newsbusters piece has also published articles at The Federalist.)
And speaking of pandering, lefty opinion leaders like Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, Michael Moore, and Stephen Colbert have made careers of pandering to their hooting liberal audiences without feeling the need to challenge them.
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As they feed their audience the reddest of red meat, Federalist editors like Mollie Hemingway and Ben Domenech insist that they are being besieged by the forces of the left....
These publications and commentators aren’t embracing the kind of real debate that they pay lip service to on campuses; they are spoon-feeding screeds to their right-wing readers. They are telling them that their most deeply felt beliefs about the world and about their fellow Americans are not only factually correct, but also morally righteous. Often, that means reinforcing ideas about race and gender shaped by bias more than fact, while simultaneously claiming to be the last redoubt of objective journalism.
On issues affecting L.G.B.T. people, according to a study conducted by YouGov, 21 percent of Americans believe, as Mr. Shapiro does, that transgender people are mentally ill, and 39 percent believe that being transgender is a choice. So for conservative websites to regularly publish stories arguing that to acknowledge transgender people requires denying scientific fact is not audacious.
The new official term is “gender dysphoria," but until 2013, “gender identity disorder” was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, in various editions), meaning the diagnosis was accepted in the authoritative manual of the psychiatric field until a few years ago.
She attacked one of Donald Trump’s campaign “falsehoods” that “America’s inner cities are hellholes and that black people have ‘nothing to lose’....”
Many liberals consider black life in America to be a racist hellhole, but when Trump says something similar it’s ludicrous?
Shapiro did everything he could after the Columbus Day video gaffe, but Coaston still roasted him.
And yet he, and vast swaths of the conservative right who decry “groupthink,” still do. To tell strident college students to examine their own politics and embrace real debate is brave. To insist on the same from those on the right would be even more courageous.
Actually, it takes far more courage for a conservative to speak on a left-wing campus than it does a liberal speaker to talk on a conservative campus, as shown by how then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared at Liberty University without unleashing violent acts. To get to her unbalanced blame of the right, Coaston had to glide over the violence and property damage radical leftists like Antifa provoke on college campuses, not to mention the intolerance of conservative thought in general.
Interestingly, her list of conservative opinion perfidy left out National Review Online, where Coaston published an interesting piece on Trump and Trumpism earlier this year.