Charles Camosy, a Fordham University professor and professed “pro-life” Democrat, argued in Washington Post that conservative radio host, author, and commentator Ben Shapiro headlining the 2019 March for Life is a “huge mistake.”
Many in the pro-life movement, of which I am passionately a part, will consider the Harvard Law-educated intellectual a huge get. Not me. Despite Shapiro’s star power and stature, I consider his appearance a serious mistake for the March, one that will move us even further from being understood as the broad-based human rights movement we need to embody in order to go from fringe to mainstream.
How is Shapiro unfit to headline March for Life? He’s one of the most listened-to conservative podcasters in the U.S. His website Daily Wire attracts 140 million page views a month.
The author opposes Shapiro’s selection on the fact that President Trump appeared at the March via satellite, whom he called “the absolute nemesis of more left-leaning pro-lifers like myself.”
Shapiro, of course, puts the March on the map in a different — and, in some respects, more important — way than Trump’s video did last year. Trump is a buffoon, but Shapiro is helping form the imagination of many millions of young conservatives. He also has deep relationships and regular exchanges with pro-choice members of the intellectual dark Web, and is one of the few pro-life public figures who is taken seriously outside the pro-life movement itself.
Though I disagree with Shapiro about 60 to 70 percent of the time, I listen to his entertaining show regularly and consider him a very important voice for vulnerable populations. His commitment to argument and evidence — and rejection of power politics — represents the only chance those who have lack power in our culture have to get their interests taken seriously.
Still, I do not welcome his appearance at the March.
Jeannie Mancini, president of March for Life, countered the author and said all diverse pro-life views, including Shapiro’s, are welcomed at next year’s march.
Shapiro is genuinely pro-life
If you’ve followed Ben long enough — I’m proud to say I was an early adopter before he peaked during the 2016 election — you’d know that he’s a pro-life stalwart. He’s an Orthodox Jew, after all. It’s in his nature to be pro-life. Just Google “Ben Shapiro” and “abortion” and you’ll discover hundreds of videos and articles by him or about him discussing and making an impassioned case for the right-to-life.
His stances shouldn’t be up for debate.
Shapiro speaking won’t hurt the March
Camosy argues Ben’s presence will hurt, not help, the March for Life.
He wrote, “It is an especially bad mistake to have his show recorded live on the most public stage of the pro-life movement — a stage that will be made even more public due to his presence.”
If you are in event planning in politics, chances are you’ve been tasked with tapping high profile speakers. (I certainly have while doing public relations work for clients.) Shapiro is a high-profile speaker with serious clout and a large viewership. His live broadcast at the march will be streamed online and likely watched by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people in real time. How is that a bad thing?
Shapiro may have a large following among conservatives, but many middle-of-the-road types who aren’t socially conservative listen to his show and read Daily Wire.
He has a massive audience, with the latter averaging 140 million monthly views. That’s a huge benefit to the March for Life. When Shapiro does something, people pay attention—even those who disagree with him politically.
I hope Camosy doesn’t work in public relations, because he would be terrible at it. High profile speakers don’t tend to be pro-life. His addition to the line-up is welcomed. I hope more public figures like Shapiro plan to partake in March for Life festivities in the future too.
Shapiro brings unique religious perspective to the March
While there is nothing wrong with the March for Life largely appealing to evangelicals and Catholics, who make up a large segment of the U.S. population, Shapiro’s addition to the speakers lineup signals the march’s desire to show that the pro-life movement is truly Judeo-Christian.
In fact, Haaretz thinks Shapiro is too pro-life for someone who is Jewish that his pro-life stances resemble evangelical ones.
In contrast, Shapiro’s position on abortion tracks much more closely with the extremist positions of several Christian denominations, especially Catholics and white evangelicals, that insist life begins at conception. Indeed, in several public interactions recorded on YouTube, Shapiro actually calls for doctors who perform abortions to be prosecuted for murder, and states that one cannot morally draw any line after conception.
Shapiro is one of the most prominent and influential Orthodox Jews in the American political media landscape (perhaps trailing only Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner), but seems to be genuinely unaware of the centuries-long, nuanced, and substantive Jewish conversation on the topic.
Instead, he delivered the standardRepublican platform, itself the product of the party’s evangelical base.
If the author is worried about lack of Democrat representation at the March with respect to speakers, perhaps his group and other avowed pro-life Democrats should signal their interest to speak. Heck, it would be great for a prominent pro-life Democrat to take center-stage at March for Life. Perhaps some past speakers have in years’ prior? Your move, pro-life Democrats.
I think Ben Shapiro, coupled with his massive audience and pro-life bonafides to back him, is superbly qualified to headline the 2019 March for Life. You can expect coverage of the March from me here at The Resurgent come January 18, 2019.
The author of this piece served as host of March for Life TV in January 2017.