After right-wing provocateur and pseudo-intellectual Ben Shapiro made an almost certainly illegal offer earlier this week to donate $10,000 to New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign if she agreed to a public debate on the merits of socialism, Ocasio-Cortez compared Shapiro’s “unsolicited” offer to “catcalling” and argued bad-faith actors like Shapiro don’t deserve a response.
“Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote after a right-wing reporter accused her of refusing to reply to Shapiro’s request. “And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one.”
Here is Shapiro’s request, which prompted widespread ridicule:
While Shapiro has repeatedly demonstrated complete disdain for facts and basic standards of human decency—in one particularly racist moment, the 34-year-old lawyer declared on Twitter that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage”—he has nonetheless been touted by such outlets as the New York Times as a master debater and “destroyer of weak arguments.”
“Young people are identifying as socialists, the right has nothing to offer beyond grievance and hate, and the left is actually putting forward serious ideas.” —Nathan Robinson, Current Affairs
Current Affairs editor-in-chief Nathan Robinson—who penned a thorough, measured, and must-read takedown of Shapiro late last year—begs to differ with this characterization, and has repeatedly offered to debate Shapiro in a public forum.
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Shapiro—despite his repeated insistence that leftists are afraid to debate and that they are dodging him—has never responded to these requests or to Robinson’s piece, but late Thursday Current Affairs seized upon Shapiro’s expressed desire to debate socialism to renew Robinson’s offer.
“Let’s talk about socialism,” reads a graphic Current Affairs posted to its Twitter account, calling on Shapiro and two other prominent conservatives to agree to a panel debate with Robinson; Briahna Joy Gray, senior politics editor at The Intercept; and Maximillian Alvarez, a writer at The Baffler.
“We’ll even let Ben keep his $10k,” Current Affairs tweeted. “Surely they’d love this!”
With the help of fawning profiles in the Times and other major American outlets, Shapiro has fashioned himself as a ruthlessly logical foil of the left, but Current Affairs concluded on Thursday that Shapiro’s unwillingness to actually engage with leftists like Robinson and Gray put the lie to the notion that Shapiro is interested in a serious discussion of ideas.
Responding to one Twitter user who offered to reserve a 600-seat University of Michigan auditorium for the proposed panel debate, Current Affairs wrote, “How can they say no? Unless, of course, it turns out that the right actually don’t want to debate ‘ideas.'”
“Young people are identifying as socialists, the right has nothing to offer beyond grievance and hate, and the left is actually putting forward serious ideas,” Robinson concluded in a recent piece. “One of the most peculiar features of contemporary politics is how unwilling conservatives are to actually defend many of their core ideas and policies (to the extent that they actually have them).”
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