Conservative commentator discusses intersectionality, importance of conservatism

For their 69th Annual Lincoln Day, the Notre Dame College Republicans hosted Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, author, and radio show host. At the private dinner, Shapiro delivered a short address discussing the current state of conservatism, how to advance conservatism, and the importance of educating yourself. He then delivered a speech to a larger audience that focused on condemning what he called intersectionality, the philosophy that we should judge others “on the basis of their identity not on the basis of the opinions they hold or the actions they take.”

At the dinner, speaking to roughly 50 members, Shapiro addressed how embracing, protecting, and spreading conservative ideas is especially important today. He explained how we are seeing a decades-old struggle come to a head, one which he says pits “the left,” against conservatives. He took time to distinguish between “the left” and “liberals.” According to Shapiro, liberals and conservatives generally agree about a vision for the United States, but disagree about how to accomplish that vision. He considers the “left” to be those who pursue a radically different vision, a vision where individualism, free speech, religious freedom, and life are no longer respected.

Shapiro also asserted that, while making fun of and “slapping the left” is both easy and enjoyable, conservatives must focus on advocating for ideas, principles, and policies. Shapiro used the example of the book Reasons to Vote for a Democrat. The book, written by Daily Wire managing editor Michael J. Knowles, consisted mostly of blank pages but became an Amazon best seller. Shapiro emphasized that, while the book was amusing, it did not do anything to promote what conservatism really is.  

Shapiro concluded his dinner remarks by recommending that students spend their time educating themselves about the core principles of conservatism and building in-depth knowledge of foreign countries. While monitoring current events is important, he stressed the importance of reading important thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and Milton Friedman. His experience has shown him that doing so is critical to forming and successfully defending your political positions. Additionally, they provide a basis for addressing new situations that arise.

The following speech, which was held in the William J. Carey Auditorium, was extremely well attended, with the auditorium quickly becoming standing room only. While security was heightened in anticipation of protests similar to those that occurred when Charles Murray spoke on campus, no protests occurred.

Shapiro focused his remarks on attacking the philosophy of intersectionality, which he claimed is the theory that the left embraces. According to Shapiro, this philosophy creates a “hierarchy of victimhood” in which the higher you are, on the basis of your identity, the more important you and what you say are. Shapiro said the hierarchy is “LBGT, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, [then] straight white male,” and if you are a straight white man, “you have nothing to say about anything; you have to shut up.”

He then condemned microaggressions as a theory that enable those higher on the hierarchy to physically attack those lower on the hierarchy who cross them. Shapiro cited the near riots at his previous speeches, riots because of other controversial speakers, and his personal experience being grabbed and threatened on CNN Headline News.

After his speech, Shapiro took questions from the audience and invited those who disagreed with him to ask the first questions. As nobody came forward with questions, he then opened the floor to everybody. The questions, some of which challenged his positions, concerned topics including capital punishment in relation to his faith, North Korea, and his views on objective truth and faith. He also entertained lighter questions such as how he would defend liberals and a request for him to impersonate Chris Matthews.

Kevin Angell is a freshman studying economics and political science, and he strongly believes in the importance of providing accurate and timely coverage of events relevant to the Notre Dame community. Contact Kevin at