‘Facts don’t care about your feelings’ is the motto of Ben Shapiro, the editor of the Daily Wire who spends an inordinate amount of time attempting to incite political arguments with pop singer Ariana Grande on Twitter. The facts, bereft of feeling, are pretty clear: 30,000 Afghan civilians have been slaughtered by the US coalition since 2001 according to Brown University; 7,000 Palestinian civilians were shot this year alone by the Israeli Defense Forces.
Shapiro’s feelings towards these facts, as outlined in a blog post for TownHall in 2002, are pretty strong. He is ‘really sick of people who whine about civilian casualties’ in Afghanistan, and wishes to see the IDF follow a US War on Terror approach to their oppression of Palestinians. He claims he would have ‘gone in with F-16s and leveled Jenin’ – a city of 40,000 Palestinians.
His justification: ‘One American soldier is worth far more than an Afghan civilian’, and following his own comparison in the article one Israeli life is worth far more than a Palestinian civilian. For a man whose grift consists of accusing those espousing student ‘identity politics’ of being ‘fascists’, his own rhetoric doesn’t merely drift into this dangerous territory but brazenly claims that some humans are inherently superior to others owing to their national identity.
A part of the self-styled ‘intellectual dark web’, Shapiro follows the handbook of Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson in using soft and whimsical labels to summarise their views before introducing more obviously reactionary elements under the notion of ‘exercising free speech’. Jordan Peterson claimed to be a ‘classical British liberal’ – safeguarding freedom of the individual over collective tyranny – until he contradicted this stance somewhat by suggesting that ‘enforced monogamy’ was the natural solution for Toronto’s ‘incel’ terrorist attack in April. Likewise, Sam Harris considered himself a rationalist and a liberal who was inadvertently caught-up in a a ‘politically correct moral panic’, before slowly introducing his interest in race science and his assured belief that black and hispanic Americans are genetically predisposed to have lower IQ scores than white Americans, culminating in The Bell Curve author Charles Murray appearing on his podcast.
Shapiro, like the rest of the ‘intellectual dark web’, isn’t an oppressed enlightened intellectual. He is, to at least some level, ashamed of and reticent to commit to his cruel views and thus cowardly conceals them, slowly introducing these ideas to his extremely right-wing audience drip-by-drip.
The intellectual dark web is effectively an alt-right gateway drug: packaging views in a way palatable enough to warrant feature articles in the New York Times culture section, but with enough dog whistles and insinuations to build up a sizeable far right-wing audience to springboard off. Just look at Peterson’s youtube comments section for proof: the ‘cancer of feminism’, the ‘Trojan horse of Islamic migration’ and the promotion of ‘cultural Marxism’ in a Jewish-dominated media landscape never cease no matter how far down you scroll.
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. If Ben Shapiro tweets that Palestinians like to live in their own faeces, advocates their genocide and literally exclaims that certain nationalities are more worthy of life than others, then he is probably a right-wing extremist.
The only difference between the intellectual dark web and any other tinpot Tommy Robinson far-right movement is courage and PR. They circumnavigate and poke at the social issues that define them under the guise of intellectual curiosity, rather than jumping in headfirst.
Shapiro and his cohort are racists, imperialists and far-right provocateurs; no semantic adjustment to political labels changes the bare facts of what they believe in. Facts don’t care about your feelings.