Ben Shapiro on how the group will take advantage of its newfound prominence.
Ben Shapiro is a conservative columnist, former Breitbart editor-at-large, and Never Trump–er who’s now facing anti-Semitic threats from the alt-right. On The Gist, he spoke with Mike Pesca about Donald Trump’s election and what Steve Bannon really means for this country. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Is Steve Bannon an anti-Semite?
No, I have no evidence that Steve’s an anti-Semite. I think Steve’s a very, very power-hungry dude who’s willing to use anybody and anything in order to get ahead, and that includes making common cause with the racist, anti-Semitic alt-right.
Is that anti-Semitism?
I want to be careful about attributing personal anti-Semitism to him. I will say that it is appeasement of anti-Semitism, which in my book is certainly not a good thing.
So whatever he has in his heart, he countenances it for either political or media gain.
He certainly did with the alt-right, for sure. And that doesn’t mean that Breitbart itself has been anti-Israel—it hasn’t been. It’s a very right-wing site when it comes to Israel. It also doesn’t mean that Jews who work there, like Joel Pollak for example, have been discriminated against, because they’ll say they haven’t, and I wasn’t when I was working there.* What it does mean is that he allowed the site to be taken over and used by a bunch of alt-right people who are not fond of Jews, are not fond of minorities.
Is this basically the comments section? I have heard him talk about how important it was to let the comments bubble up and drive the direction of the site.
I’m talking about that. I’m also talking about the relationship that he’s had with some of the popularizers of the alt-right, people who wouldn’t consider themselves overtly alt-right but have made a big deal out of providing popular appeal to it. People like Milo Yiannopoulos or the folks who they call the Meme Team who traffic in alt-rightness.
For folks who don’t know what the alt-right is, it might be worthwhile to just sort of start at the beginning and talk about what the alt-right is—because there are a lot of these various definitions floating around, nearly all of which are wrong.
Basically, the alt-right is a group of thinkers who believe that Western civilization is inseparable from European ethnicity—which is racist, obviously. It’s people who believe that if Western civilization were to take in too many people of different colors and different ethnicities and different religions, then that would necessarily involve the interior collapse of Western civilization. As you may notice, this has nothing to do with the Constitution. It has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence. It has nothing to do actually with Western civilization. The whole principle of Western civilization is that anybody can involve himself or herself in civilized values. That’s not what the alt-right believes—at least its leading thinkers, people like Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor and Vox Day. Those kind of folks will openly acknowledge that this is their thought process.
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The Alt-Right Is Using Trump