A left-wing undergraduate with Ben Shapiro’s level of
achievement would have as little chance of finding a publisher for
his collected wisdom as a left-wing black man with Clarence
Thomas’ level of achievement would have of finding himself
appointed to the Supreme Court.
Yet these are the guys who howl that they’re persecuted
for their conservative beliefs (while admonishing those chronically
pampered African Americans for playing the victim).
So why dignify Shapiro’s “Brainwashed” with
our attention? It’s not debate; it’s just bait, and
sloppy bait at that. The publisher is actually just a sideline of a
conspiracy-crazed right-wing Web site. The six books it now
features alongside Shapiro’s are: a claim that Islamic
terrorists were connected to the Oklahoma City bombing; an
exposÃ© of Hillary Clinton’s “secret war”
comprising “America’s darkest scandals”; a rant
by a radio host so vitriolic he got fired by MSNBC for
“anti-gay remarks”; a book on the “mysterious
death of Ron Brown”; a book explaining the evil of Mexican
workers; and one on the holiness of Ronald Reagan. You get the
Anyway, the guy who lectures us about respecting alternative
viewpoints insists the social views of liberal professors
“can only be called evil. And this evil must be eradicated
before it spreads and engulfs the aspiring youth of our nation in
its dark and shadowy tentacles.” Yes, thus speaks the great
advocate of fair-minded treatment of differing ideologies on
Someday, Ben Shapiro will realize the people who offered to
publish his carelessly edited compendium of obvious falsehoods and
adolescent zingers were not really his friends.
But it will take time, because people have been slapping him on
the back, stuffing the ballot-box at Amazon with rave reviews of a
book that wasn’t out yet, and telling him what a courageous
lad he is to stand up on the side of the big corporations, the
wealthy, the military, the church, and the party that controls the
White House, Senate, and House of Representatives ““ against
the terrifying force of liberal professors armed with
Those of us attacked in this kind of book face a dilemma. We can
either let all the nasty falsehoods stand unchallenged, or else we
can publicize their author by rebutting them. And if we point out
just how nasty and false they are, it will surely be cited as more
proof that professors attack students with right-wing views. A
point-by-point refutation would be ridiculously easy ““ when
he quotes me (or pretends to), Shapiro is either surprisingly
ignorant of the facts or utterly indifferent to the truth — and if
anybody really wants such a refutation, I’ll provide it.
But, though I was unwilling to be baited on my own behalf, there
is something in the excerpts The Bruin sent me that compels me to
Yes, at a meeting during the last presidential inauguration, my
wife got tears in her eyes talking about how much she treasures our
Constitution and Declaration of Independence. How this proves she
is a lousy American and deserves mockery is a mystery.
Why Shapiro thinks he seizes the moral high ground by making fun
of my supposedly “brainless” wife’s pain and
patriotism is an even greater mystery.
Why he thinks it is good journalism to invent belittling details
about events he did not attend ““ the news report on which he
bases his story nowhere suggests that I “dragged out my
sobbing wife,” and nothing remotely like that happened
““ is a third question, perhaps one Shapiro should discuss
with other recently discredited writers such as Jayson Blair,
Stephen Glass and Jack Kelley.
The day that Ben Shapiro can shed tears for love of our
Constitution is the day he takes a first step on a very long road
toward being as good a patriot as my wife.
The day he regrets sneering at her for it is the day he begins
an even longer and more important journey.
Watson is a professor of English.