Ben Shapiro’s January 18th event, while hitting his usual talking points, covered the latest conservative controversy around Tucker Carlson’s populist turn.
In his lecture at GW, Ben Shapiro gave a talk primarily to members of the GW chapter of the Young America’s Foundation on three points that he considered common leftist arguments: “Capitalism makes us not free,” “America is bigoted,” and “Freedom is a contract.”
Shapiro made his usual arguments, including “The wall is not racist” or “The wage gap between men and women adjusted isn’t real,” the primary thrust of his lecture was about Tucker Carlson’s monologue.
The monologue featured Tucker Carlson going after free market fundamentalism in the Republican party by criticizing private equity firms and the lack of aid that the rural poor have been receiving. This was combined with rhetoric around single mothers and minorities.
The monologue promoted a split within the conservative commentariat, with American Conservative writer Rod Dreher stating his support for Carlson and advocating for a Carlson presidency. In contrast, Ben Shapiro stated in a response in the National Review that Carlson’s comments sound, “far more like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than it does like Ronald Reagan or Milton Friedman.”
Liberal publications commented on the monologue as well. While Vox noted this was a change of pace in the discourse, Slate pointed out that Carson’s views are still not egalitarian because his populism is for white people only.
In the lecture series, Ben Shapiro furthered his argument against Tucker Carlson. While he states that America is suffering from fundamental issues like the opioid crisis, he noted that Carlson’s monologue left the impression that, “Capitalism is the problem, sounds like Bernie Sanders”.
He then stated that the trouble with this line of argument is that they “attribute Capitalism to all problems.”
After, he repeated Brookings’ “Three Simple Rules Poor Teens Should Follow to Join the Middle Class” argument as a rebuke to Carlson’s argument on the non-existence of the possibility of the poor being not poor.
In a localized segment of the lecture, Ben Shapiro referenced posters put up on GW’s campus by unknown groups urging YAF and Ben Shapiro to get security for the event.
Shapiro spoke about Herbert Marcuse and the theory of Repressive Tolerance as an explanation of why groups would want to deplatform him. He then proceeded to briefly complain that one of the reasons the Left is so terrible is because of the Frankfurt School and Critical Theory.
While this lecture had some of the traditional elements of Ben Shapiro’s past talks, it further exemplifies the perceived between Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson. Despite the difference in ideology, Ben Shapiro said, “I still like Tucker.” After the event, Tucker Carlson incidentally made the same argument that Shapiro has made about the border wall not being racist on his show.