Ben Shapiro is not a member of the alt-right, and The Economist knew it.
That fact needs to be understood first and foremost. Between Shapiro’s long history of opposition to the alt-right, all the way down to The Economist’s interview with Shapiro, the “journalists” covering the most popular name in conservatism had all the evidence, clues, and stories necessary to know, without a doubt, that Ben Shapiro has no sympathy, kinship, or tolerance for the alt-right.
Regardless, The Economist slapped that label on Shapiro in an article released Thursday titled “Inside the mind of Ben Shapiro, the alt-right sage without the rage,” wherein they made The Daily Wire’s Editor-in-Chief out to be an “alt-right pop idol” who runs a website that “caters to hyperventilating conservatives.”
While this may be a shocking move by The Economist, it shouldn’t at all be surprising. The term “alt-right” has become something of a cudgel by which to beat those on the right who disagree with any talking point on the left. After the events in Charlottesville, and the rise of figures like Richard Spencer, the term alt-right became mainstream and widely understood to mean someone associated with antisemitism, racism, bigotry, and more. It more aptly applies to your average social justice warrior or identity politics activist on the left, but that matters little.
Instead of arguing with someone on specific socio-political or economic points, one only needs to accuse the other of being a member of the “alt-right” in order to gain the upper hand. For the left-leaning mainstream media and its Goliath-sized platform, painting someone as “alt-right” was enough to make them persona-non grata within society. Anything they say or do would now have the shadow of being “alt-right” over it, whether they were alt-right or not.
What’s more, this isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s an old move out of the leftist mainstream media playbook.
As Phillip Klein highlighted at the Washington Examiner, “alt-right” is the new “neo-conservative”:
Neo-conservatives referred to a more specific group on the right — former Democrats who recoiled from the leftward drift of the party in the 1960s and 1970s. They were alienated by the campus radicalism, supported a more adversarial posture toward the Soviet Union, and started to see government programs and mismanagement as leading causes of urban decay. After Sept. 11, they became influential because the administration embraced their interventionist foreign policy and beliefs in democracy promotion.
Everyone to the right of the left’s anti-war stance was a “neo-conservative,” a term dangerously close to “neo-Nazi,” and was a comparison that was often made to conservatives by the left.
“Alt-right” is now filling in the blank “neo-conservative” left, and evokes the same level of disgust.
With Shapiro becoming such a prevalent and convincing figure, not just on the right, but to the population in general, the mainstream left got salty and reached into opened up the old how-to book for a way to blunt the sharpest arrow currently in the right’s quiver.
Thus, Shapiro became a member of the “alt-right.”
Needless to say, The Economist got a shellacking worthy of the blunder, which is all well and good. However, the entire episode highlights how tragic things have become in our nation when it comes to societal communication.
The leftist media seems to have a serious derangement when it comes to the right. We tend to say the left has “Trump derangement syndrome” half-jokingly, but it goes beyond Trump. There’s a serious problem with how the media views the right.
Again, The Economist KNEW Ben Shapiro wasn’t a member of the alt-right. They KNEW he wasn’t the villain they painted him out to be. In fact, the interview they did with him was a very reasonable and illuminating take on his positions, especially for them.
Yet they couldn’t stop themselves. They immediately moved to assassinate his character out of what I can only assume is some sick sense of duty to a narrative. There is some sort of very real derangement there that makes them see a normal person and forces them to speak about him as if he were the second coming of Hitler.
Let me be clear. Until the nonsense that The Economist displayed today stops, there will be no healing. Until the right can freely express itself without fear of retribution, be it a suspension or ban from social media company or violence on a college campus, there will be no forward movement. There will be no end to the divisiveness of politics that fuels shootings, riots, assaults, and more.
For a society that bemoans what our political division creates, we mentally invest heavily in a media that creates it. If this problem is ever going to go away, the radicalism that has taken it over has to be pushed out.