On Tuesday afternoon, Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro spoke at Otay Ranch High School, near San Diego.
A capacity crowd of over 450 students turned out to hear the speech, sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, at the largely-minority public school. They listened with interest – until a school administrator, Dean Nafarrete, dismissed the students halfway through the speech, telling them that Shapiro’s conservatism “crossed a line.”
You can watch Nafarrete, the school’s assistant principal and Title IX officer, intervene at the 0:44 second mark of this video.
Nafarrete said he would “dismiss the students” because Shapiro “crossed a line” by discussing the realities of income mobility in the United States. Asked about whether the government ought to take money from rich Americans and give it to poor Americans to help poor Americans rise from poverty, Shapiro explained that handouts did not accomplish that goal: only hard work and prudent fiscal management did that.
Shapiro added that America’s permanent poor were not poor because they had been exploited by wealthier Americans, but because permanently poor Americans are typically not good with money, which is why lottery winners with a history of poverty largely fall back into poverty after spending their winnings.
“The reason people are permanently poor in the United States,” Shapiro said, “isn’t because they don’t have money, it’s because they suck with money. The reasons people are temporarily poor can vary.” As a rumble ran through the crowd, Shapiro continued, “That’s not even controversial. If you’re permanently poor [in America] for your entire life, you’re not great with money by definition…”
That’s when Nafarrete stepped in and dismissed the students. “I’m sorry, Mr. Shapiro,” he said, “I’m at a point right now, where, quite frankly, I’m going to dismiss the students… With all due respect, Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Shapiro represents a narrative that he’s providing to all you guys based on his opinions, what he believes, what he wants to share with all of you. I know that the education was there for all of you to understand, the left side, right side, whatnot, but also the opportunity was allowed for him to impress some of his opinions on certain things… I think what this is getting into now, it’s starting to cross a line.”
Shapiro interjects, “What would that line be?”
Nafarrete continues, “For those students who would like to be dismissed, I’m going to allow you to go ahead and do so at this time.”
Many of the students booed Nafarrete’s announcement. Approximately half the students left.
As they left, Shapiro told Breitbart News, Nafarrete stated that he had to let the students go in order to “protect” their feelings, since many came from low-income homes. Shapiro responded that Nafarrete was doing them no favors by coddling their feelings, since reality still exists; earlier in the speech, Shapiro had told the students that the greatest obstacle to their own success was making good choices, rather than external factors.
Just over half the students stayed to hear Shapiro complete his question and answer session. Shapiro then told the remaining students that clearly he wasn’t a paid employee of the state of California; if he had been, he would be able to leverage his political beliefs on them utilizing taxpayer dollars to do it, just as their teachers did.
The session concluded with a left-wing teacher agreeing with Shapiro that students ought to hear all points of view before making up their mind.
Shapiro told Breitbart News that in the days before the event, Nafarrete contacted him asking for the content of his speech. Shapiro informed Nafarrete that he was politically conservative and that he would be promoting political conservatism, then gave him a brief rundown of the topic – the differences between leftist thought and conservative thought. Shapiro also assured him that he would not be discussing “sexually sensitive items, substance abuse, violence, horror, religion, subversive ideologies, or other topics that might raise a question of appropriateness” under the district’s guest speaker policy.
Shapiro said that Nafarrete had conveyed that several of the school’s teachers were upset with the prospect of Shapiro coming to the school. Shapiro told Nafarrete that they might want to get used to hearing an opposing point of view once per year, at the very least.
That opposing view lasted approximately 40 minutes before the administration stepped in to quash it.
— YAF (@yaf) December 8, 2015
“This is why young Americans are moving left,” said Shapiro. “The left has hijacked our educational system from the bottom up. It doesn’t start in college. It doesn’t even start in high school. Teaching American children that they are victims of a cruel and unjust system is a nasty lesson few Americans unlearn. And apparently, if you attempt to teach that they have every opportunity in the freest nation in the history of the world to succeed, you will ‘cross the line.’”