On Wednesday’s installment of “Defending the First,” a series launched by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on her eponymous show, Ingraham interviewed Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro about the assault on free speech in the United States, particularly on college campuses.
Ingraham began by noting that Shapiro had debunked such sacred cows as “safe spaces,” “microaggressions,” and the quest for multiculturism, adding, “and not without risks to his own personal safety.” She then played clips of Shapiro’s events, including the riot at Cal State Los Angeles and the protest at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the incident at DePaul University in which Shapiro was denied permission to set foot on campus.
Ingraham started by joking, “Ben, you don’t look too threatening; you’re kind of a guy with some interesting ideas and thought-provoking conversations; you freak ‘em all out, you’ve got the headgear on; you’ve got the riot police out. (Shapiro starts laughing.) It is funny because it’s so pathetic, but it’s also very dangerous, because you do have the guts to go on college campuses, but there are a lot of conservatives I know who are invited to speak. You know what they say? “Eh, I have better things to do with my time.” And in a way you can’t blame them, but that is itself chilling free speech.”
No question. The heckler’s veto that so many universities are using to shut free speech on college campuses by saying the Left is going to get violent is pretty astonishing, and listen, I don’t blame conservatives who don’t want to take their life in their hands by going on some of these campuses. Now I don’t want to pretend this is happening at every campus, but it is happening to a lot of conservatives; I’m talking about — not even just conservatives — I’m talking about people who range from Jordan Peterson to Jason Riley to Heather Mac Donald to Charles Murray. There’s a wide variety of conservatives who are really being rioted against, in some cases on campus, and the administration has, in some cases, really not done enough to prevent that from happening. And when they do attempt to stop the riots from happening, the way they typically do it is by bringing a lot of cops onto campus and then by suggesting that we have to restrict the number of people who can actually attend the lecture. They actually end up restricting free speech even when they’re attempting to protect it, in some cases.
Ingraham asked about the recent developments at Penn State University, where the Penn State Power Network, along with some other students and community members, presented a list of demands to the university president, which included denouncing and defunding “hate groups” on campus. Those supposed “hate groups” were those uttering “anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Ingraham noted, then asked, “Are those (groups) in favor of enforcing the border? What does that mean?”
Everything has been deemed “hate speech” on campus, up to and including–there was a point during the election where people were barred on certain campuses from writing President Trump’s name when he was a candidate because this made people feel bad, that some people actually supported Trump as a candidate. I can only imagine that “anti-immigrant” rhetoric would be things like “let’s enforce our border” or “let’s deport some illegal immigrants.”
That’s not a shock; again, Penn State is one of the campuses I visited, and there was a near-riot when I was at Penn State. So I’m sure that some of the people who were protesting against the conservatives on campus, and it was some conservative groups whom they were protesting, were some of the same people who, a couple of years ago, nearly tried to break through the doors where I was speaking to disrupt the lecture that I was giving. What’s amazing about all of this is that it is perfectly easy to have a nice event where people come and listen to me, or listen to any of the other people I mentioned, and all of us are willing to have Q&A’s; all of us are willing to have discussions. We had one last night over at Pepperdine, where a lot of the student groups who were on the Left — I’m talking about the same sort of minority student groups you’re hearing about at Penn State — decided that instead of boycotting, they would show up and ask questions, and we had a perfectly nice conversation.
But unfortunately, there is a part of the Left — as distinguished from, I think, liberals at large — there’s a big part of the Left, and it’s growing, that says that it is incumbent to protect the campus from ideas that are dissenting, and everyone who dissents must be thrown off.
Ingraham stated, “And the reason why they want to stifle speech is that your speech actually grows conservatism. It spreads the ideology, and it draws people in. They have no ideas. They’re put of ideas; they’re out of solutions; they’re into demonization.” Ingraham then asked Shapiro to list some of the groups trying to shut down free speech.
There are certainly a lot of student groups that coordinate; I would say that a lot of the groups that are associated with the Women’s March are very much associated with this movement; a lot of the groups that were originally associated with Black Lives Matter were very active in this campus movement. Obviously Antifa was the far-edge wing of this movement that was actually promoting violence at a lot of these speeches. But the generalized attempt to shut down speeches by pressuring administrations, that’s a lot of student groups that have been on campus since the time that I was on college campuses as a student myself, and they continue to push for the idea that these campuses should be conservative-free and should be complete “safe-spaces” for people on the Left. Not only because they think that conservatives are going to convince a lot of people but also because they just think that conservatives are evil. They really think that people like me are there to do them harm. And when I show up, and it turns out that I’m a relatively non-threatening character, and I’ve never really beaten anyone up in my life, for several reasons that you can imagine, then that’s the impact.
Ingraham concluded, “Again, you don’t look too threatening, but ideas are threatening to people.”