You can’t make this stuff up.
So here we are, days before Easter, and Notre Dame, one of the most iconic cathedrals on the planet, almost burns to the ground.
As this is written there is still an investigation into the exact cause. But suffice to say the horrific sight of the toppling spire as the cathedral was engulfed in flames stirred sentient people everywhere.
The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro tweeted a common and obvious thought:
Unless, of course, you are uber-Leftist Talia Lavin over there in the Washington Post. Wrote Lavin of Ben’s tweet:
Shortly thereafter, fast-talking far-right pundit Ben Shapiro called Notre Dame a ‘monument to Western civilization’ and ‘Judeo-Christian heritage.’ Given the already-raging rumors about potential Muslim involvement, these tweets evoked the specter of a war between Islam and the West that is already part of numerous far-right narratives; it was also a central thread in the manifesto of Brenton Tarrant, the alleged Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter.
And, but of course, Lavin ended her thoughts by demanding the usual cry of the totalitarian Left (but I repeat myself.) Said she:
“But the conflagration of conspiracy, a corruption of the natural human tendency to assign meaning to events, rages through our information sphere unchecked. It should not take the imprecations of journalists to restrain this dangerous flow of misinformation. It is past time that those who stoke inflammatory rhetoric, knowing its potential to catalyze racist violence, were made to stop playing with fire — before it’s too late to control the inferno.”
In other words, first completely misrepresent what he actually said, then shut down Ben Shapiro’s free speech and free press rights. Silence the conservative guy.
It would be all too easy to dismiss Lavin’s remarks about Ben Shapiro as just the musings of another Leftist crank who cannot abide dissent from the Left Wing Gospel.
But that would be a big mistake. Over at The Daily Wire, in a column on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Ben began this way:
“A couple of years ago, I spoke at the University of California, Berkeley. My presence was apparently so offensive to a particular group of people that hundreds of police officers were necessary to ensure the safety of the event. As I spoke inside, the protesters milled about, chanting and shouting. One of their favorite ditties: ‘SPEECH IS VIOLENCE!’
This, of course, is patent nonsense. Speech is not violence — and violence is not speech. Equating the two is the hallmark of a tyrannical worldview: If I can treat your speech as violence, then I am justified in using violence to suppress your speech. And yet that obvious fallacy has become the rallying cry in defense of execrable Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.”
After seeing Lavin’s article, Ben tweeted that, as was plainly true, he imputed ill-motive to no one “since it (the burning of the cathedral) was an accident by all available evidence, and imputing malicious intent to me is simply gross.” He also called the piece “disgusting bulls***” and asked:
“Hey, @washingtonpost, any interest in fixing this nonsense? I noted that Notre Dame is a monument to Western civilization because it is. That has nothing to do with blaming Muslims, and to suggest it does is simply a lie.”
Eventually this was added into Lavin’s piece:
“(On Tuesday, Shapiro called this article “simply gross” and said he called Notre Dame a monument to Western civilization “because it is,” not because of “malicious intent.“)”
Well. That’s an improvement.
But the questions remain. Why in the world would Lavin - in The Washington Post no less - take Ben Shapiro’s perfectly innocent and perfectly accurate assessment that a world-famous cathedral built around 900 years ago “is a central monument to Western civilization, which was built on the Judeo-Christian heritage” - and make it into some sort of threat to Islam?
Rush Limbaugh picked up on the thoughts of the classicist Victor Davis Hanson and a Hanson appearance on Laura Ingraham’s Fox show the night of the fire. Said Rush:
And anybody who wants to believe or does believe in things larger than themselves that you can’t touch, like God, they’re dangerous. They’re dangerous because people like that are going to put faith in things the left can’t control and can’t touch. The left wants faith to be placed in their symbols, largely government and the people that they populate to lead the government. That’s who they want worshiped. And they’re scared to death of people who worship something that can’t be seen, something that is transcendent and explains all of this. Liberals want you to believe that everything that is could be explained by virtue of them and their existence.
Recall that the constitutional underpinnings of America are that our rights -- in this case the right of free speech -- come from God. Not from the government, not from the State.