Ben Shapiro's Bad-Faith Challenge to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is a Textbook Case of Right-Entryism

Ocasio-Cortez’s brilliant rejection of Shapiro’s challenge was the only possible and dignified response.

Ben Shapiro and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Right-wing media pundit Ben Shapiro recently challenged 28-year old Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described democratic socialist who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., in a June primary, to a debate in return for a $10,000 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 to 2016.

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?

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 to 2016.

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?

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 members of Trumps's conservative and neofascist base 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.

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