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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ben Shapiro, and the Dangers of Right-Entryism

Left: Ben Shapiro. Image by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons. Right, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Image by Jesse Korman [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)], from Wikimedia Commons.

Right-wing media pundit Ben Shapiro recently challenged 28-year old newly-elected Democratic Socialist politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a debate in return for a ten thousand dollar campaign contribution. Twitter, and with it mainstream media, erupted as a result of the back-and-forth that ensued.

But who is Shapiro?

Shapiro is a right-wing media personality with over 1.5 million followers on Twitter. He serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, hosts The Ben Shapiro Show, a daily political podcast, and was the editor at large of Breitbart News from 2012-2016 (Wikipedia).

Shapiro is also an Islamophobe who bends the truth to promote hatred.

So, should Ocasio-Cortez debate Shapiro? What could possibly be the harm of an exchange of ideas?

Right-Entryism

The media soap opera that Shapiro instigated has a broader significance beyond the particular personalities involved. It highlights the dangers of right-entryism; i.e., the gradual introduction and acceptance of far-right fascistic staples such as white supremacy, misogyny, unfettered capitalism, and other forms of oppression. Once these ideas are deemed legitimate enough to debate and thus enter the public sphere, a regression of existent human rights, as well as the introduction of new oppressive policies, is likely, especially with the current atmosphere in Washington D.C.

But how does right-entryism actually happen?

First, it is initiated from within the ruling establishment. President Donald Trump consistently stretches the moral fabric of American society by using trial balloons and comparing right and left extremes, even though the former seeks oppression and promotes discrimination while the latter pursues equality and justice for all. The false equation of political extremes serves to specifically delegitimize the left, for the far right is illegitimate due to its inherent xenophobia but is unaffected as it is already in power as Trump’s racist base.

Second, right-entryism is facilitated by external forces vying for power on both left and right; so-called leftists opportunistically engage with the extreme right and even encourage collaboration with white supremacists – aka a ‘red-brown alliance’. The legitimization of unapologetic racists on any topic, regardless of relevance, renders right-wing bigotry up for debate and promotes their platforms. Notably, lefties who promote such collaborations are often plagued by white privilege and fragility.  

Democratic Socialist victories and Ocasio-Cortez’s only possible response

Democratic Socialists have made real gains during recent elections. In fact, nothing frightens the far right, amongst whom are Trump acolytes like Ben Shapiro, more than powerful socialist women of color like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Shapiro knows well that her charisma and the appeal of her ideas inspires new voters. In fact, he is jealous.  

As such, nowadays perhaps more than ever, it is essential to be aware of the dangers of providing any legitimacy for far-right racists like Shapiro, who seek to thwart the energy of Democratic Socialist victories by trolling and bullying up-and-coming stars like Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez is a newly elected politician who rose from the ground up; an impressive young woman of color inspired by the progressive wave of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Why would she waste her time debating and thus legitimizing a privileged and opportunistic racist brat like Shapiro, who trolled her as a means of bullying a woman of color and spewing his propaganda?

Shapiro is exactly the type of far-right pundit who seeks legitimization and affirmation from the left. Placing him on an equal platform with Ocasio-Cortez only serves to elevate him from the xenophobic swamp he inhabits. And it does not matter if there were one million or one billion dollars up for grabs, Ocasio-Cortez’s brilliant rejection of Shapiro’s challenge was the only possible and dignified response.

Her refusal to engage, together with her correct identification of Shapiro’s inherent misogyny demonstrates her sharp instincts and remarkable savviness as a young politician.

Written by Yoav Litvin

Yoav Litvin is an Israeli-American doctor of psychology, a writer and photographer. His work can be found at yoavlitvin.com. Follow him on Twitter @nookyelur.

Yoav is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

4 Comments

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  1. Dear Yoav Litvin, please do proper fact checking before writing such an insanely biased piece of journalist garbage. If you had done any research on Shapiro, you would find that he is actually a “never Trumper” and not a “Trump acolyte” as you describe him here. In fact one of the reasons he left Breitbart was because he refused to have his voice undermined by the conservative narrative that Trump is an awesome candidate for the Republican party. He has been extremely vocal about his discontent of the president’s actions and tweets while in office. Furthermore, calling him a racist is as untrue as it is utterly disrespectful and disgusting. I am sure that must be how you describe anybody on the right if you truly believe Shapiro hates all other races. When making such asinine claims, it is vital that you provide evidence of how you came to that conclusion, or else you risk coming across as just a name calling cry baby who points fingers instead of stating facts. Ben Shapiro has had healthy debates with people of all races and I’ve never heard him say anything that is belittling to their race or heritage. In fact, he was actually a target of white racists in 2016 for being a Jewish man who wears a yamaka. The last thing that I find very troubling is that you attempt to defend Ocasio-Cortez’s likening Ben Shapiro’s request for debate to catcalling. I agree that she has the right to refuse debating Shapiro if she so chooses. However, she was quoted as saying that conservatives are afraid to debate her. Ben Shapiro merely suggested that this claim is not true by not only offering to debate her but also to donate $10,000 to her campaign. If this is now the definition of catcalling, then I suppose an open debate between men an women should cease to exist in American politics. Ocasio-Cortez makes some bold claims in regards to her “policies” that she wishes to enforce. She is not being called out because she is a girl. She is being called out because people want to hear her defend these policies and as a leader in politics it is her job to give reasoning to her beliefs or else it’s all smoke and mirrors. If she didn’t want to debate, she should have either ignored or just said no. Her response was extremely unprofessional and was an obvious attack on free speech and debate. I hope that one day you can see how truly idiotic you are for spreading lies about those who oppose you and supporting hateful speech by those you support. You are the problem but it seems your nose is too far up the leftists behinds to realize you have shit on your face. Good riddance Mr. Litvin.

    • Thanks for reading. First, claiming that Shapiro is in any way anti-Trump by wanting a more fascistic leader is absurd. He postures a lot but is transparent in his motivations. Of course he and his ilk support Trump from the extreme right.
      Second, in addition to the Tweet linked immediately after the claim that Shapiro is indeed a racist, Shapiro made the following Tweet (I’d attach an image, but I can’t find that option): “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue.”
      Any person with half a brain would tell you that’s racist. And Shapiro refused to retract it, it’s still up. Cheers.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ben Shapiro, and the Dangers of Right-Entryism