Ben Shapiro takes questions after delivering a speech at UC Berkeley on Thursday night during ‘Free Speech Week.’ Shapiro responds to a question about the existence of de facto white-only bathrooms that still existed in the 1990s, well past the civil rights era and The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Shapiro said, in his speech and in the Q&A session, it is not helpful punishing people based on the sins of the father and it is also not a good thing to teach minorities the mentality of victimhood.
From the event on Thursday night in Berkeley, Calif.:
BEN SHAPIRO: As far as the idea of the existence of past racism in the United States, of course, I agree that is true and I said that right in the speech. Obviously, I agree that slavery and Jim Crow were some of the worst evils perpetrated by human beings. I mean, they were truly, truly evil.
The question now is we have people living now who have not committed those sins. Do we somehow remove — do we punish them for the sins of their fathers in other words? And is the best thing to do is teach an entire generation of young black people, for example, that America is inexorably racist, inexorably bigoted, and they’re living in a country with such a brutal history of racism that they cannot rise? Because that is actually false, backward, and hurts them. That’s my main philosophy.
So you can understand why when people say — listen, as a Jew, Jews have had a long history of oppression also but that doesn’t mean that I think that anybody owes me anything and I don’t think it is appropriate to teach children that somebody owes you something as a general rule that has not done anything to you. I think that if they have done something to you then they do owe you. But if they haven’t done anything to you then they don’t owe you anything. And if you build a system based on you have to rectify mistakes made by your grandfather, we’re never going to get beyond this. We’re never going to get beyond this because we all sinned against each others’ grandfathers.
Watch the full speech:
Shapiro also talked about how victimhood makes the country a worse place in his speech:
I assume you can handle disagreement. If, in fact, you cannot handle disagreement, you are making your life harder, and you are making your life worse, and you are making the country worse. You’re driving political polarization by failing to engage on a level of discussion. As you know, we’re going to do a Q&A after this, and I love taking questions. It’s my favorite thing, and I have a rule which is if you disagree with me, you raise your hand and you go to the front of the line, because discussion makes the country better.
But you feeling insulted and then whining about it, and then suggesting that you’re a victim, without evidence, and that I have victimized you because I won’t accept your victimhood? This makes the country a worse place.
So I want to go briefly through a couple of the intersectional hierarchy groups, people who feel that they are victims in American society and explain why you are not, in fact, a victim; why you need to take control of your own life and become an adult…
How about the idea that if you’re black in America there’s a white supremacist hierarchy that is keeping you down?
Now listen, you’d be a fool not to acknowledge, or a liar, not to acknowledge the history of racism in America. Everybody acknowledges that, if you have half a brain. Of course. Slavery, Jim Crow. Awful, evil treatment at the hands of awful, evil people. We all acknowledge this; we all acknowledge the collective sin of the United States in promulgating this, and the individual sins, more importantly, of the people who actually promulgated this stuff. We all get that.
But that’s not what we’re talking about. Now we’re talking about now. Because I wasn’t born when Jim Crow was in place; I wasn’t an adult when Jim Crow was in place. I know that I’m not a racist and I know I haven’t acted in a racist manner, and I would bet you money that the people in this room haven’t acted in a racist manner, that they haven’t held slaves, or voted for Jim Crow. I will bet you money that is the case.
You cannot fix past injustices with current injustices. The only way to fix past injustices is with individual freedom. That’s it.
The idea that black people in the United States are disproportionately poor because America is racist; that’s just not true, at least not in terms of America’s racism today keeping black people down. It’s just not the case. If that were the case then you’d have to look at group income, and decide based on group income who’s been victimized the most, and who the country was built for. By that standard, the country was built by Asians, because the racial group with the highest median income in the United States is Asians. The Constitution was not written by a bunch of people who speak Korean. Because the Constitution is a document of freedom, not a document of ethnicity.
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