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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: We can do better


Political commentator Ben Shapiro speaks in Rudder Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. (Jonathan Taffet / The Battalion)

Two weeks ago, the Texas A&M Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, opened Aggieland’s arms to Ben Shapiro and invited him to speak with students.
An UCLA and Harvard Law School graduate, Shapiro is the author of 11 books and the founder of media outlets like the Daily Wire and “The Ben Shapiro Show” podcast. A noted political commentator, media host and author, he has gained traction as an infamous figure in American popular culture. What defines his entire career and reputation, however, are his radical conservative opinions.
In simple terms, Shapiro makes a living from “proving” leftists wrong.
In Q&As, podcasts and other appearances, Shapiro rebukes left-wing ideas using great condescension intermingled with wit, typically employing faulty logic to create a facade of strong argumentation. Alas, his confident deliverance and know-it-all character animate otherwise hollow tirades, encouraging his followers to soak in every word. An idol of objective truth to conservatives, but a gish-galloping danger to rationality everywhere.
Take his discussion in Rudder Auditorium, for instance. Responding to a question about demasculinization, Shapiro absurdly claimed that men being stripped of their role as a protector leads to the downfall of society.
Though he began by encouraging young men to serve in their community, a valid word of advice, the focus quickly took a different direction. “Either men are going to channel their aggression and their testosterone into the pursuit of defending things that are worth defending, or they’re going to tear down society. And what we are seeing right now is the latter,” Shapiro said. To clarify, the “things worth defending” include women and family.
A passionate argument in support of upholding traditional values, with a tone of assertiveness and effective word choice which make the statement all the more striking. Sure, why wouldn’t misdirected “aggression and testosterone” have the power to cause collective harm?
However, when taking a closer look, the front of reason begins to crumble.
Is it fair to blame men denied of their “instincts” for issues like wealth disparity? Climate change? Minority injustice? Health care accessibility? The scope of America’s problems arguably extends beyond evolving gender norms. Furthermore, pushing archetypal images like this — of what it means to be masculine — is proven to be detrimental to male mental health and behavior, increasing the risk of violence, substance abuse and suicide.
Thus, it’s fair to induce that Shapiro’s framing of this complex subject is quite myopic and conveys an unhealthy message to many listeners.
This leads me to my main point of contention: all things considered, while I fundamentally disagree with Shapiro’s ideologies, his influence on young thinkers and moldable minds is what concerns me most.
Shapiro likes to target college campuses for his political discourse — it remains unclear if this is due to the fact that universities are establishments that encourage open thought and free dialogue, or because young students make a more gullible audience than expert politicians and scientists.
Nonetheless, when taking the time to analyze and pick apart his arguments at locations such as these, fallacies and twisted truths surmount. From mask mandates to pronouns, abortion to transgender rights, listeners are subject to opinions supplemented with “facts” and presented as truth.
For example, at our very own university, Shapiro said there is “literally no evidence” to support that getting vaccinated prevents others from getting COVID-19. On the contrary, John Hopkins Medicine, one of the most renowned medical and scientific institutions in the nation, states that widespread vaccination helps limit spread through communities and restricts the virus’s opportunity to mutate into new variants. Extensive research and experts in the field support the same conclusion.
Among other topics, Shapiro also targeted the LGBTQ+ community, saying that “there is a trendiness to identifying a certain way” — a claim aimed towards gender identity and its implications for individuality. However, studies prove links between transgenderism and “social contagion,” as said by Shapiro, to be false.
Is this truly a voice we want to bestow a platform?
Regardless of political standing, there are better options out there — important leaders, significant authors, passionate researchers — than a man who charges upwards of a hundred thousand dollars to spread misinformation and purportedly debunk liberal myths. At the end of the day, all of Shapiro’s discourses simply breed ignorance and fuel “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentalities.
Ideally, student organizations like YAF should focus their efforts on promoting figures who encourage healthy political discussion and bring informed opinions to the table. College is an environment of free thinking and open debate, but that should not come at the cost of rationality.
For it is this fallacy, biased framing of issues and consequent polarization that one could argue are ripping through the fabric of society. Not “unmasculine” men.
Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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Ana Sofia Sloane
Ana Sofia Sloane, Associate Opinion Editor
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