Ben Shapiro: Politics, Kanye, Trump, Biden, Hitler, Extremism, and War | Lex Fridman Podcast #336 | Summary and Q&A

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November 7, 2022
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Ben Shapiro: Politics, Kanye, Trump, Biden, Hitler, Extremism, and War | Lex Fridman Podcast #336

TL;DR

Ben Shapiro discusses the necessity of recognizing the potential for evil in every human and the need for civil discourse and understanding in society.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does Ben Shapiro view the role of mental illness in influencing individuals to make hateful or provocative statements?

Shapiro acknowledges that mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, can contribute to individuals making extreme or uninhibited statements. He suggests that Kanye West's comments may be a result of a manic episode, leading him to express controversial ideas without considering their implications.

Q: How does Ben Shapiro believe societal polarization contributes to the propagation of hatred and extremism?

Shapiro argues that the intense polarization in society fosters a climate where individuals are more likely to support extreme individuals or ideologies in order to counter what they perceive as an even greater threat. This mindset can lead to a lack of nuance in discussions and a failure to view political opponents as inherently evil.

Q: How does Ben Shapiro approach the criticism that his own snarkiness and mocking tone on Twitter may contribute to the overall negativity and polarization on the platform?

Shapiro acknowledges that he has reduced his snarkiness on Twitter over the years, recognizing the need for a more balanced approach. However, he still believes in the importance of humor in politics, and that being able to make light of certain situations can make discussions more engaging and entertaining. He is open to criticism and self-reflection regarding his Twitter behavior and strives to maintain a fair and reasonable approach.

Q: What are some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of Elon Musk buying Twitter, according to Ben Shapiro?

Shapiro sees potential benefits in Elon Musk taking over Twitter, as Musk has expressed a commitment to promoting a broader range of perspectives on the platform and expanding the Overton window. However, Shapiro also acknowledges that Musk's personal tweets can sometimes be contentious and that a balance between promoting free speech and responsible dissemination of information should be struck.

Summary

In this conversation, Ben Shapiro discusses various topics including bigotry, hate, the power of social media, and his own experiences as a conservative commentator. He addresses the recent comments made by Kanye West, the criticism of Ilhan Omar, and the influence of Twitter. Despite facing criticism and hate online, Shapiro remains committed to promoting understanding and open dialogue.

Questions & Answers

Q: What do you think about the comments made by Kanye West about Jewish people?

Kanye West's comments about Jewish people are awful and anti-Semitic. They started off with bizarre tweets and then escalated to more stereotypical and offensive statements about Jews. His remarks are reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda. One possible explanation for his behavior, based on my experience with bipolar individuals, is that he may be going through a manic episode. Bipolar disorder often leads to saying things that one shouldn't say. Additionally, he may be making the logical mistake of attributing the actions of an individual to an entire group, which is a textbook definition of bigotry.

Q: Can hate speech fuel more hate in the world? How can we alleviate hate?

Hate speech can certainly contribute to the spread of hatred, but I don't believe that Kanye's comments are convincing people to be anti-Semitic. Most people who already hold anti-Semitic views might find validation in his statements, but the responsibility lies with individuals to debunk such hateful beliefs. While it is important to call out and debunk such comments, I believe that the majority of people are not persuaded by Kanye's remarks. There will always be fringe groups that promote hatred, and it's crucial for individuals to actively stand up against bigotry.

Q: Is there a way to discuss a high representation of a group (like Jewish people in the media or other institutions) without it being a hateful conversation?

It is possible to discuss a higher representation of a group in a specific institution without it turning into a hateful conversation. Statistical truths may reveal that certain groups tend to be overrepresented in particular fields, and this can be due to a multitude of factors. However, it becomes problematic when people attribute negative characteristics to an entire group based on the actions or representation of some individuals. It is essential to differentiate between discussing statistical trends and making broad generalizations that perpetuate discriminatory beliefs.

Q: What can we learn from Hitler taking power and the atrocities committed during the 20th century?

There are several lessons we can learn from Hitler's rise to power. Firstly, power had already been centralized in the government prior to Hitler's ascension. The collapse of the Weimar Republic and the struggle between radical factions paved the way for Hitler to seize power legally. Secondly, the political climate at the time, with communist forces posing a significant threat, further exacerbated the situation. It reveals the dangers of political polarization and the potential for extreme ideologies to gain traction. Lastly, it should remind us that evil can manifest in any human heart, and we must remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our society from such ideologies.

Q: Have you ever reflected on whether you may be participating in evil?

Yes, I often reflect on whether I am doing the right thing and if my actions align with my beliefs. As a public figure, it is essential to continually evaluate one's words and actions. While I strive to do what I believe is right, I am aware that not everyone may agree with me, and I may make mistakes along the way. The key is to surround oneself with trustworthy individuals who can provide constructive criticism and hold one accountable. It is through self-reflection and open communication that we can strive to be better and avoid participating in evil.

Q: Are you mentally strong enough to switch sides if you realize you are on the wrong side of history?

I would like to believe that I have the ability to switch sides if ever I find myself on the wrong side of history. Holding heterodox opinions in various areas is crucial for intellectual growth and preventing groupthink. I have evolved and revised my positions over the years, and I'm always open to constructive criticism. I acknowledge my fallibility and strive to correct my mistakes. However, it is not enough to merely switch sides for the sake of it; one must thoroughly evaluate and understand why a particular belief or ideology is wrong before changing one's position.

Q: What is the difference between criticizing a race, like Jews, and criticizing the policies of a nation such as Israel?

There is a clear distinction between criticizing a race and criticizing the policies of a nation. Criticizing the policies of any country, including Israel, is valid and often a part of healthy political discourse. This can include discussions about foreign policies, internal practices, or social issues. On the other hand, criticizing a race, like Jews, perpetuates bigotry and discrimination. It is important to differentiate between criticizing actions and beliefs based on an individual's choices rather than making blanket statements about an entire racial or ethnic group.

Q: Can empathy be extended to the Palestinian people while also criticizing certain Palestinian groups?

Absolutely, it is possible to empathize with the plight of the Palestinian people while also criticizing particular Palestinian groups. It is important to distinguish between the actions and ideologies of specific organizations, such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad, and the broader Palestinian population. There are legitimate concerns and grievances held by many Palestinians that should be acknowledged and addressed. However, it is crucial to condemn terrorism and acts of violence carried out by extremist groups and promote dialogue and compromise for a lasting peace in the region.

Q: How do you handle the criticism and hate you receive online without letting it break you mentally?

Dealing with online criticism and hate can be challenging, but I have developed a few strategies to stay resilient. Firstly, I have removed Twitter from my phone to limit my exposure to negativity. Instead, I consciously decide to engage with Twitter by using my computer, allowing me to have better control over my mental well-being. Additionally, surrounding myself with a trusted group of friends and family who can provide constructive criticism and support is crucial. I try to focus on the constructive feedback and ignore malicious comments. Lastly, maintaining a sense of humor and not taking everything too seriously helps me navigate the often toxic environment of social media.

Q: What would you say to individuals with hate in their heart, especially those who may be influenced by online content?

If I could speak to someone with hate in their heart, I would tell them that they are getting it wrong. Hate and violence are not the answers to their pain or anger. It is crucial to find meaning, purpose, and connections that contribute to general prosperity and help others. I encourage young men, in particular, to find stability in their lives by getting a job, building a family, and becoming active and responsible members of their communities. Violence and hate only perpetuate more suffering and do not offer real solutions.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ben Shapiro emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the potential for evil in all humans, rather than viewing it as something exclusive to certain individuals.

  • He discusses the implications of Kanye West's anti-Semitic comments and the role of mental illness in such statements.

  • Shapiro explores the dangers of polarization in politics and the need for open-mindedness and empathy in discussions.

  • He addresses the criticism of his own snarkiness on Twitter and the balance between humor and serious discourse.

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