Op-Ed: Legitimization of hate as political discourse

By: Jacob Pieczynski

Marquette University Young Americans for Freedom hosted controversial columnist, podcast host and editor Ben Shapiro. It was a school-sponsored evening of ignorance, white privilege perpetuation and lots of deflection disguised as bad jokes.

Shapiro spoke on a breadth of controversial topics including: victim privilege, the myth of white privilege, the myth of the disadvantaged woman, the misrepresentation of rape on college campuses, the myth of LGBTQ disadvantage, transgender individuals’ mental illness, the myth of institutionalized racism and victimhood as a perpetuation of poverty.

Shapiro opened his speech by attacking and dissecting a statement released by Marquette’s student-run Youth Empowerment Program, calling the student authors “not only stupid, but quasi-illiterate.” Later came the claim that white privilege victimhood is nonexistent and simply making “good decisions” would allow minorities to prosper in America, citing Asian Americans as proof. However, Shapiro neglected to disclose that Asian Americans often borrow white privilege the same way scholars like Karen Brodkin say Jewish Americans borrow white privilege.

The most disturbing claim of the evening was clearly Shapiro’s forward thought that trans people are “mentally ill.” He referenced a past appearance on the Dr. Drew show in which he calls Zoey Tur, a transgender woman, “sir.” Shapiro recounted the incident more like a comedy bit, quipping jokes about the octaves of transgender people’s voices and their “biology” to a laughing audience.

So what is Marquette doing by bringing a speaker like Ben Shapiro to campus?

I assume Marquette believes they are allowing for discussion of ideas. Oct. 14, in response to the protest of the Young Americans for Freedom’s pro-life display, Marquette Vice President for Student Affairs Xavier Cole wrote to the student body suggesting that student organizations “begin a dialogue around a particular issue.”

The problem is that no space for discussion exists, and bringing speakers like Shapiro hardly creates these spaces. Shapiro actively encouraged leftist questions from the audience, however after listening to a speaker attack the human rights of minority individuals and deny the existence of institutional racism, it hardly seemed like a welcoming invitation. Shapiro’s welcome was less than inclusive: “I won’t mash you too bad.” What reassurance…

This seems to be a growing trend in our society: Individuals and organizations attack notions, often of common humanity, decency and human rights, as liberal positions. By doing so, they create the illusion that the opposite of these notions or ideologies (a.k.a. hate) is a legitimate conservative position. Finally, by masking the opposite ideology of hate or ignorance as conservative, they legitimatize its discussion as a matter of political debate or free speech.

In reality, these disguised “political positions” are nothing more than hate. Hate is not a political policy. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and so on are not political positions; they are human deficiencies with no place in political discussion because they are not politic. There are plenty of self-proclaimed “conservative” Republicans that accept disparaged groups while maintaining a right-wing political agenda, proving the irrelevance of hate to true politics.

Marquette University, be it student government or the institution itself, legitimatized Shapiro’s hate and ignorance as political discourse by extending an invitation to him. I am open to true conservative policy debate, but hate is not even in the category of politics and should not be negotiable, especially to a self-proclaimed “inclusive” institution as stated in Marquette’s Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity.

They can put the opening tagline that the views presented are not the views of Marquette all they want. The audience laughed through these statements at the beginning of the evening, and I think it may be the one thing we are in agreement on. Marquette’s funding of this speaker, through student activity (Marquette University Student Government) allocated funds, legitimatizes hate as political discourse and sets precedent for the debate of human rights issues.

Jacob Pieczynski is a junior at Marquette University.

He can be reached at [email protected]