I was pleased to have an opportunity to interview my friend Ben Shapiro about his new book Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.
What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
First question, of course liberals would deny that they bully anyone. So let’s name names; give two or three of the biggest bullies on the Left.
Oh, clearly President Obama leads off the crew. President Obama, what he’s been doing with gun control is really an excellent example of it — and dragging out 7 year olds to use as a backdrop for your political position and implying that those who disagree with you are morally evil and don’t care if 7 year olds get shot is a pretty solid example of bullying, but obviously it’s not restricted to President Obama. He utilizes his office to bully in a way that no president ever has, which is amazing.
But beyond him, there are folks that he works with like David Brock over at Media Matters, which is the institutional outlet for the Obama Administration. That’s a non-profit group that’s used as kind of the attack dog by the administration in order to discredit people with whom the administration disagrees. Folks like Dan Savage who works with the Obama Administration — he runs the It Gets Better Project, an anti-bullying initiative, but he’s also the same guy who was screaming at Christian kids when they refused to listen to his anti-Biblical rants a few months back. He tried to turn Santorum into a disgusting kind of sex term and has generally attempted to brutalize anybody who gets in his way politically.
There are so many bullies on the Left that I could fill a book with them and, in fact, I did.
Now that brings up an interesting question. How is the Left able to get away with being so cruel, nasty and vindictive while claiming that conservatives are the mean ones?
Well, the media is the big untold secret in all of this. The media are the biggest bullies of all. They pretend they’re objective and then they stand on that objectivity and they use it as a club to wield against conservatives while they give cover to everybody who is a real bully. So President Obama goes out there and exploits kids. Imagine if President Bush had done that on gun control. Imagine if President Bush had gone out there with the victims of Sandy Hook and said, “This problem wouldn’t have happened if this hadn’t been a gun-free zone — and how dare all those folks, the Brady campaign, do what they’re doing to try and get guns out of public life. It’s because of them that Sandy Hook happened!” The Left would have gone insane. They would have called him exploitative. They would have called him evil. They would have gone crazy and they would have been right because that’s a nasty tactic. The idea of demonizing the other side as morally deficient is something that should be really out of bounds. But the Left has used it as its own kind of favorite tactic and the media covers for them.
How does the Left bully black Americans who don’t agree with them?
Liberalism is based almost completely on the idea that Liberals represent victimized groups. That’s how they define themselves: we defend blacks, we defend Jews, we defend gays, we defend women. The flip side of that coin is that if liberals define themselves by defending victimized groups then that means that conservatives, in disagreeing with liberals, are targeting victimized groups. They hate black people, they hate gay people, they hate women.
That’s a great way of explaining it, by the way, Ben. I’ve heard people say very similar things. I have myself, but that’s an outstanding way of breaking it down.
Take the black community. Barack says, “We stand for the black community. All we care about is defending them because they need special protection.” If you oppose the Left’s policies, you are, therefore, in favor of blacks being victimized. So that explains why the Left is so adamant that there is no such thing as a real black conservative, because the black conservative completely throws them. It’s a member of that victimized group who doesn’t believe that they need the Left’s defense. So that throws the Left off. If they can’t define themselves as defenders of a group, then the Left goes crazy because they have no fundamental reason for being. The Larry Elders of the world, the Ward Connellys, the Clarence Thomases, the Condoleezza Rices, the Herman Cains –their very existence gives lie to the liberal motion that their mission is to defend black people because they don’t need the Left’s defense. And not only that, they say the Left doesn’t have the solutions to help us. So the Left has to define them as not black and that’s why you see them do that.
Well, similar question how do liberals bully women who don’t agree with them?
It’s the same general concept. The reason they hate Sarah Palin so much, the reason they despise her beyond anybody else is because if she says, “I don’t buy into your mindset, I don’t buy into your politics,” then they look around and they say, “Well then, why are we here? If women don’t really buy into what we’re preaching, we don’t stand for women and we’re not the best solution for women, then who are we?” It creates a crisis for them. So they look at Sarah Palin and they have to cast her out as a “not-woman.” They’ll use anything that they have to in order to do that. She’s a bad mother. She’s a cruel woman who shoots moose from a plane. You know, all the nonsense that they can pull up, they will in order to destroy women like her. People like Sarah Palin are the ones the Left hates the most because they are the people who force the Left to look in the mirror every once in awhile and get a glimpse of the fact that they are not who they appear to be.
Last question, if the liberals’ entire strategy is centered on preventing a debate along with demonizing and bullying their opponents because they can’t win an argument, how should the Right be dealing with that?
Punch back twice as hard!
The era of stability is over. We cannot pretend that we’re going to have an honest political discussion with people who want to paint us as the worst of all moral evils. That means that you really have to start off a debate by taking their tactics off the table — by saying look, we’re not even going to bother with this discussion if you’re going to imply moral inferiority on my part. If you want to have a discussion about common ends, if we’re going to have a discussion about how we solve the problems of America, then we have to assume that both of us have good intentions and we just want to get to what is the most practical, possible solution. If you don’t want to do that, then there’s nothing to argue about. That makes you morally deficient. If you don’t want to have a real discussion about real issues, then you are the politically and morally deficient person here because that’s what America is all about.