Ben Shapiro: NY Times Lays Bare the Left’s Concept of ‘Identity’ as Atomizing Aesthetics


Protesters march ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade as they campaign for LGBTQI rights along Oxford Street on March 06, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Protest organisers were given a COVID-19 exemption by NSW Health on Friday to be able to hold the event, allowing up to 1500 people to be able to participate. (Photo credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

America has been wrecked on the shoals of identity.

Identity politics has been characterized casually as a form of tribalism: Americans grouping themselves according to biological or sexual characteristics, in opposition to other groups associated by biological or sexual characteristics. There is certainly truth to the idea that such tribalism has damaged America in extraordinary ways — that tribalism acts as the sort of factionalism the Founding Fathers feared, tearing Americans from one another and forcing them into polarized units to compete against others in a battle over control.

But there is another form of identity politics even more sinister than the sort of tribalism we see so openly today, a form that focuses less on politics than on identity: the redefinition of identity itself.

For thousands of years, human beings established their identities by learning how to adapt to the systems in which they lived, gradually changing those systems for the better after determining the flaws within them. This is how parents traditionally civilized children — by adapting them to their civilization.

But as Carl Trueman explains in his masterful book “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self,” the post-Enlightenment era tore away at the core assumption of such notions of identity. Instead of adapting ourselves to the institutions around us and forming our identity within those institutions, human beings in the West began to locate their identity within — to look to their own sense of authenticity as the guide to fulfillment. In this view, identity was not formed in tandem with civilization but in opposition to it. Only by rebelling against the strictures of a surrounding society, by breaking free of convention, could individuals finally achieve fulfillment.

Furthermore, fulfillment would require not merely an interior sense of identity but a sense of identity cheered and celebrated by everyone else. After all, human beings still feel the need for acceptance. To reject someone else’s authentic sense of self-identification, therefore, becomes an act of emotional violence.

We have now taken this view to its logical endpoint: total subjectivism, requiring the destruction of any and all conflicting viewpoints or data. Take, for example, a recent New York Times piece applauding the rise of so-called neopronouns. With the explosion of new subjective identities — and the demand that others endorse them — has come a wave of new pronouns. We are no longer talking about biological males demanding that others identify them as “she/her” in contravention of all available objective science. We are talking about people insisting that others call them “kitten/kittenself” or “vamp/vampself.” Now, some might find this to be frivolous nonsense disconnected from any true sense of identity. But as The New York Times blithely notes, “what’s the difference between an aesthetic and an identity anyway?”

This is saying the quiet part out loud. For decades, those who insist that identity is constructed in opposition to society’s rules — rules that must be eliminated in order to achieve human flourishing — have suggested that authentic identity is more than mere aesthetics. But now The Times has given away the show: When you construct identity as a tabula rasa, seeing all history and science as obstacles to happiness, identity quickly flattens into aesthetics. And we are all expected to agree with your sense of aesthetics. (Unless, as The Times notes, you identify as “BLM” or other terms related to Black Lives Matter. In that case, you are encroaching on longstanding areas of sensitivity and must atone.)

When identity becomes pure aesthetics, society completely atomizes. No free society can be rooted in utter subjectivity — someone must enforce silence from the top, bar dissenters, and punish those who insist on objective data. And that’s precisely what we are seeing from an authoritarian left: an authoritarian left that arrived with the promise of fulfillment and authenticity and has instead delivered emptiness and aesthetic pretension, enforced by institutional fiat.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side of History” and “Bullies.”



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Ben Shapiro: Mutually Assured Destruction Is How Conservatives Must Fight Woke Corporations


Coca-Cola signage atop the Olympia Building downtown in Atlanta, Ga. (Photo credit: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

In April, on the basis of whole-cloth lies, major corporations went to political war with the state of Georgia.

The lies at issue revolved around Georgia’s new voter law, characterized by both Stacey Abrams and President Joe Biden as a new form of Jim Crow. What do these dastardly new voter restrictions do? They require an ID number to receive an absentee ballot, with language identical to that of federal law; they bar electioneering within 150 feet of a polling place or 25 feet of voters in line, including handing out food or water for partisan purposes; they increase the number of mandatory days of weekend early voting; they preserve some drop boxes that did not exist before the pandemic; they require additional voting machines and election personnel in crowded precincts; they increase voting hours in future elections for the vast majority of counties.

These provisions are similar to the laws in a vast majority of states. That didn’t stop Democrats and the media from simply lying about the Georgia voting law. While some in the media did point out that Biden had lied about the law’s supposed crackdown on voting hours, nobody in the media treated his “Jim Crow” contentions with the sneering disrespect they so richly deserved. Instead, they simply parroted the line that Republicans were engaged in widespread voter suppression, another lie — a lie far more unsubstantiated than Republican concerns about voter fraud and irregularity.

But the media and Democrats went even further: They bullied corporations into taking positions on the Georgia election law. CBS News put out a headline that trafficked in simple activism: “3 ways companies can help fight Georgia’s restrictive new voting law.” And companies complied. Coca-Cola, in line with its new Woka-Cola branding, issued a statement deploring an election law the corporation hadn’t bothered to lobby against before its passage. Delta issued a statement, too, with CEO Ed Bastian explaining, “I need to make it clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” Major League Baseball followed Biden’s advice and pulled the All-Star Game out of the state.

So, what should conservatives do?

Many conservatives — myself included — deplore the politics of boycotts. We’re not interested in patronizing companies based on political differentiation alone. But if the left is going to hijack the most powerful institutions in America and then weaponize them against voters in red states, conservatives will be left with little choice but to exert counter-pressure.

The only alternative is the formation of alternative companies in every industry. If Coca-Cola wishes to cater to the woke, conservatives will need to build a competitor. Conservatives don’t have first-mover advantage in these spaces. But that doesn’t alleviate the responsibility to find a different path than funding those who would cut them off at the knees.

The left has politicized everything. The right has avoided that tactic, because it’s ugly and divisive. But it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s time for mutually assured destruction. There’s only one thing worse than having nuclear weapons: unilateral disarmament. Better to establish mutually assured destruction now and put corporate America on notice that, by stepping into the middle of fraught political debate, it risks just as much blowback from the right as from the left.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side of History” and “Bullies.”



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Ben Shapiro: No, the Derek Chauvin Trial Isn’t a Referendum on American Racism


People gather at the unveiling of artist Kenny Altidor’s memorial portrait of George Floyd. (Photo credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the death of George Floyd, our esteemed media, as well as their Democratic allies, have suggested that Floyd’s alleged murder is representative of broader American white supremacy, that Floyd’s experience with law enforcement is indicative of how American police pose an existential threat to black Americans. They have offered no evidence for this proposition.

Not a shred of evidence has been presented to suggest that former police officer Derek Chauvin’s actions the day of Floyd’s death were motivated by race. Not a shred of evidence has been presented to suggest that black Americans live under threat of extermination from whites or police officers: As of 2013, according to Reuters, a black person’s chances of being murdered by a white person were 5 in 1 million, and according to The Washington Post database of police shootings, as of 2019, a black person’s chances of being shot by the police while unarmed were approximately 3 in 10 million.

But facts don’t matter when you’re pushing a narrative.

Now that Chauvin is on trial for Floyd’s murder, the facts will once again become secondary to the narrative.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) said that police reform is dependent on Chauvin’s conviction: “If there was ever a case that you can just not argue, it is this one. This trial has got to come out the right way, and we have to deliver.”

Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump stated, “Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all.”

That’s simply not true.

Bass, Crump, and the rest of the establishment media assume that Chauvin’s case is clear-cut — that nobody could possibly vote to acquit. The fact pattern, however, presents serious issues for the prosecution. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. All three charges are a challenge.

The prosecution first has to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd’s death was caused by Chauvin’s actions. But the autopsy report shows that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and had a serious heart problem, and that Chauvin’s neck hold did not in fact cause damage to Floyd’s trachea. That means that while Chauvin’s neck restraint may have contributed to Floyd’s death by ratcheting up his blood pressure, for example, it’s uncertain that it caused Floyd’s death more than, say, the excited delirium from which Floyd may have already been suffering.

Second-degree murder requires that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin unintentionally killed Floyd while committing a felony — in this case, felony assault. But felony assault requires “intentional” infliction of bodily harm — that Chauvin wanted to hurt Floyd, not just use a suppression tactic already greenlit by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Third-degree murder — depraved-heart murder — doesn’t actually seem to fit the crime here, since it requires proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin acted in a way “eminently dangerous to others.” Others — plural. Usually, depraved-heart murder applies to someone who fires a gun into a crowd, not a person who targets an individual.

Second-degree manslaughter requires that the prosecution prove that Chauvin acted with “gross negligence.” But such gross negligence would have to show that Chauvin should have known that his behavior might cause Floyd’s death — an unlikely expectation, since the Minneapolis Police Department actively taught neck holds of the type Chauvin used, and which Chauvin applied only after Floyd resisted arrest and refused to be confined to the back seat of a police car.

The Chauvin case, then, is a legally complex one. But such complexities have been abandoned in favor of narrative. Should Chauvin be acquitted, we are likely to hear that America has proved its racism once again. The only thing that has already been proved, however, is that the “America as white supremacist” lie will remain the media’s dominant narrative, no matter the data.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side of History” and “Bullies.”



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