News: CJ Exclusives

Protests At Shapiro Speech Highlight Campus Tensions

Black Lives Matter demonstrators at UNC-Chapel Hill walk out moments after conservative commentator urges his ideological opponents to engage with him

Student protesters
Student protesters

Despite efforts that UNC-Chapel Hill College Republicans say they’ve made to hold respectful discussions with left-wing protesters on campus, there’s little indication that discourse is likely to become more civil.

On Wednesday, a combative talk about racial issues from conservative author and commentator Ben Shapiro was met with protest by members of the university’s Black Lives Matter movement, all of whom staged a silent walkout a few minutes into Shapiro’s presentation.

Student protesters at UNC Chapel Hill wait to stage a walkout during a controversial talk on race from political analyst and author Ben Shapiro. (Photo by Kari Travis)

Student protesters at UNC Chapel Hill wait to stage a walkout during a controversial talk on race from political analyst and author Ben Shapiro. (Photo by Kari Travis)

Protesting students, who made up nearly one-third of the audience, faced both applause and mockery during their exit from the remaining attendees. The demonstration followed an unapologetic introduction from Shapiro, in which he stated that he hoped no one would walk out, and laid out five terms he said the Left uses to “obsess” about race.

“These are all stupid and counterproductive terms,” Shapiro said. “The first is ‘diversity,’ the second is ‘white privilege,’ the third is ‘trigger warnings,’ the fourth is ‘microaggressions,’ and the fifth is ‘safe spaces.’ Now, this is going to make some folks upset. Fortunately for me, I don’t care.”

After the protesters vacated, empty seats immediately were filled by others who had waited outside to hear Shapiro’s talk.

Shapiro responded to the incident by stating that he would prefer the protesting students stay, but he didn’t want to infringe on anyone’s freedoms, and welcomed open-minded students to join the audience.

“I know there are a bunch of other people that want to come in, so I’m of the opinion that in a ‘safe space’ — which is called freedom in America — of course other people should be allowed to come in,” he said.

“I thought you weren’t going to say, ‘safe space,’” challenged a student in the audience.

“I am,” Shapiro responded as the audience laughed. “It’s called irony.”

Political commentator and author Ben Shapiro addresses a group of students at UNC Chapel Hill on March 30, 2016. (Photo by Kari Travis)

Political commentator and author Ben Shapiro addresses a group of students at UNC Chapel Hill on March 30, 2016. (Photo by Kari Travis)

Protesters declined to speak with Carolina Journal, but following the walkout, student Charity Lackey, who organized the protest, said in public remarks that Shapiro’s view of racial issues only served to fuel hatred, racism, and oppression.

“Ben Shapiro completely disregards the struggles that the oppressed have faced, not only on this campus, but in our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, and our countries,” Lackey said before the group of protesters. “He is complicit in a system that foundationally disregards our humanity — whether because of color, creed, gender, or any other ideals that do not represent white, male, heterosexual normativity.”

Lackey also confronted UNC-Chapel Hill’s College Republicans group — the hosts of the Shapiro event — challenging them to invite speakers who would create “inclusive space” for discussion.

“[The] College Republicans [group] is complicit in this system of racism, militarism, and materialism that continues to oppress us,” Lackey said. “Frank Pray, the [chairman] of the College Republicans, can be quoted saying that he aligns himself with the politics of Ben Shapiro. If Frank Pray does indeed agree with the politics of Ben Shapiro, then he too is complicit in oppression.”

Pray said that his group previously has invited moderate speakers to give talks on campus, and that groups like Lackey’s continue to oppose the presence of the speakers, regardless of the perspectives they represent.

“The fact of the matter is that this is only unreasonable conversation to unreasonable people,” Pray said. “They shout them down, they taunt them, they speak out of turn during questionings, they walk out. Or they just don’t even show up. They’re not interested in having a conversation. That is the fact of what the Left [does] on this campus —and on other campuses across the nation.”

Pray also stated that he wouldn’t back down from accusations of intolerance, and said that he thinks his group has made plenty of efforts to hold discourse with individuals of other viewpoints.

“I’m actually friends with a couple of them,” Pray said of left-wing student activists. “And a lot of times they’re good people. They’ve just had this viewpoint wash over them — because they’ve heard it from professors and from hundreds of other students — that tells them that anyone who doesn’t agree must be evil. And that’s why they’re being so intolerant in their ‘tolerance’ of other viewpoints.”

“We’ve tried talking to them, we’ve tried being conciliatory before, and as Ben Shapiro said, it doesn’t work,” Pray continued. “So we’re done… If they want to talk with us in a respectful tone, we’re open to that. If they don’t want to do that, we’re just going to yell right back.”



  • Thomas Blackwell

    intolerant demands for tolerance. They apparently don’t teach about free speech or irony any more.

  • BitterEXdemocrackkk

    these young skulls of indoctrinated MUSH don’t EVEN know how effin STUPID they are…they have been totally effed over
    by all the government screwls they have attended and still do at Cheater Hill … BLM do NOT matter to other blacks!
    UNC is an embarrassment to NC in every way.

    • listenupbub

      BLM absolutely does matter to other blacks. A good 90% of blacks would get behind this kind of stuff.

  • DaTruuf

    Lack of institutional control….really. Nuts running the insane asylum….

  • Wareagle82

    so engaging = walking out. They don’t get the point of college, it seems. Or life. You’re eventually going to come across people who hold different viewpoints. In the adult world, you deal with it.

  • Protesting students, who made up nearly one-third of the audience, faced both applause and mockery during their exit from the remaining attendees

  • Ga Russell

    This is how it was when I went to college 47 years ago. I wonder what the protestors’ SAT scores were.

  • 2War Abn Vet

    The only “oppression” these poor children experience is entirely self-induced.

  • ;-David

    While there may be valid criticisms, and I’m even okay some of the names they come up with ….. they are too much used as Clubs and go way over-board on the analysis. Basically if you are white you are privileged, if you are white you are a racist, if you are not actively involved in fighting racism you are a racist …. ad nauseum. And worst of all they actually are making the problems worse by pissing people off. Carrots are better than Sticks. And I would suggest, if you truly want to garner respect … then get your “so disadvantaged group” take advantage of the wide opportunities you have today, get the best education you can get, stay out of trouble, get a degree/vocation then job then career before you get married and have children. Take control where you have control.

    People make judgement on what they observe and they see too much whiners, blamers, yes lazy, ugly rap, ugly behaviors, disrespect, lack of personal responsibility, entitlement and such. It’s not racism, is factual observation. Look there are many who are not this way – many. But there are way to many who are.

    Yes you can blame part of that on the legacy of race …. but you can’t blame all of it on somebody else. Take charge of your own lives ..