Factsheet: Ben Shapiro
IMPACT: Ben Shapiro is a conservative political commentator with a large national platform as a popular podcast show host and Young America’s Foundation-sponsored speaker at college campuses. Shapiro has a history of making derogatory, generalizing and inflammatory comments about Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans, transgender people and others. He previously worked at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an organization that espouses Islamophobic views.
Ben Shapiro is the founder and current editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire. He also hosts its weekday podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show. Shapiro served as editor-at-large of Breitbart from 2012 to 2016, when he resigned in protest of the company’s handling of the physical assault of one its reporters by then-Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
From 2013 to 2015, Shapiro served as the co-founder and editor-in-chief of TruthRevolt, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center that shuttered in March 2018. Shapiro was also a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow and wrote for Frontpage Magazine during 2010-2015, the flagship project of the Freedom Center. According to 2014 tax filings for the Freedom Center, Shapiro is listed as its Vice President of Operations with reported compensation at over $190,000.
Shapiro has in the past made derogatory and generalizing statements about Muslims, Palestinians, Syrians and Arabs generally. In June 2007, he wrote that the “Palestinian Arab population is rotten to the core” and that “Palestinian Arabs have demonstrated their preference for suicide bombing over working toilets.” In September 2010, Shapiro tweeted: “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue. #settlementsrock.”
In November 2015 on The Ben Shapiro Show, Shapiro stated that “Syrian Muslims have a different philosophy of life” and “are not people who are engaged with Western values.” He further said, “It is not good for Western civilization to take in millions of Muslims who have had no education in Western civilization at all.” Shapiro also described Islam as “an ideological representation of third worldism…and poverty.”
In a November 2017 op-ed in Forward, journalist Peter Beinart criticized articles published by The New Times about Shapiro due to their lack of engagement with “Shapiro’s naked bigotry toward Palestinians and Muslims.” Beinart further stated that when Shapiro talks about Palestinians and Muslims this way, “he’s generalizing about the immutable characteristics of an entire national or religious group.”
Shapiro claims that Islam is inherently violent and advocates the religious profiling of Muslims for entry to the U.S. In October 2014, Shapiro featured in a TruthRevolt video titled “Ben Shapiro: The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority.” According to fact-checking by PolitiFact, Shapiro’s claim that there is a “radical Muslim majority” is “false.” According to its analysis, “for Shapiro, support for any form of Sharia law means one thing — the believer is a radical.” PolitiFact also argued that in order “to make his numbers work, [Shapiro] had to cherry-pick certain results from public opinion surveys” and “relied heavily on the idea that anyone who supported sharia law is a radical.”
In October 2014, Shapiro wrote in Breitbart: “The West cannot be the great defender of Islam, because we have no capacity to slice radical Islam out of broader Islam.” He further wrote that “defending that broader ideology by downplaying a so-called ‘fringe minority’ only emboldens those of the radical minority.” In November 2015 on The Ben Shapiro Show, Shapiro stated that “radical Islam tends to predominate inside Islam.”
In a November 2015 lecture sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation at the University of Missouri, Shapiro argued that appropriate vetting procedures for Syrian refugees and immigrants more broadly should include questions such as: “Do they have any experience with Western style democracy?” “Do they believe in any of the same American rights that we believe in?” Shapiro also said that “Europe is full of culture clash because of the vast wave of Muslim immigration.”
In December 2015 on The Ben Shapiro Show, Shapiro stated that “Islamic civilization is inferior to the West” and described Afghanistan, Iraq and “more modernized countries like Indonesia” as “archaic, barbaric and irrational in the ways that those countries are governed.” Shapiro further said: “[Trump’s] policy of banning all Muslim immigration also doesn’t answer what you do with the three million Muslims who are already here.” In a separate episode the same month, Shapiro discussed the San Bernardino shooting and advocated religious profiling as “necessary,” describing “Islamic terrorism” as “behaviorally linked.”
In an archived August 2011 article for Front Page Magazine, titled “In Defense of David Yerushalmi,” the architect of anti-sharia legislation proposed and enacted in state legislatures across the country, Shapiro described sharia as “foreign and primitive law that allows men to rape their wives” and in opposition to “civilized values.” He further wrote that “the rise of shariah law in Europe has created a separate society that hates civilized values.”
In his first podcast, in September 2015, for The Ben Shapiro Show, Shapiro said, “There’s a very strong case that traditional Islam is not in consonance with the constitution. Sharia law is not in consonance with the constitution.” Such language reinforces anti-Muslim tropes and is a distortion of the normative meaning of sharia for Muslims.
In February 2016, Shapiro shared an article from The Daily Wire on his Facebook page that was titled: “Germany’s Telling Muslims Not To Grope Women At Swimming Pools.” Shapiro added the following commentary along with the article share: “They’d better be careful. Muslims can get pretty riled up over cartoons.” In the article, the author advances anti-Muslim tropes by describing migrants in Germany as “grope-happy” and “uncivilized men,” and it describes Germany’s refugee resettlement program as “suicidal.”
Shapiro has made crude and callous statements about the police killings of Black American adults and teenagers, including Trayvon Martin (who was killed by a neighborhood watchman), Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Michael Brown. In November 2014 at the David Horowitz Freedom Center “Restoration Weekend,” Shapiro additionally referred to Trayvon Martin as “St. Trayvon of the Blessed Hoodie” and to Michael Brown as “St. Michael of the Gentle Giantedness.” In a May 2015 debate on race relations in the U.S., Shapiro stated that disproportionately lower incomes among Black Americans “has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture.”
In October 2017, The Daily Wire posted a video on “Columbus Day” that, according to reporting in Mediaite, “excuses ethnic genocide by depicting Native Americans as cannibals and savages who weren’t tamed until white Europeans came to America and took their land.” Following criticism, Shapiro initially defended the video as satire, describing the “great gain Western civilization brought the world via entry into the Americas, despite the awful wrongs committed in the process.” In a January 2018 interview in Slate, Shapiro said that “Native American culture [being] inferior to Western culture…is a contention with which I generally agree.”
In a December 2016 speech at Yeshiva University, sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, Shapiro said, “Transgender people are unfortunately suffering from a significant mental illness.” During his speech at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Shapiro said, in response to those “who insist that a biological man is actually a woman if he says he is a woman,” “he is not, he is a dude.”
Last updated March 20, 2018