Neither Jewish, nor Christian, nor Western. Ben Shapiro is just full of…

I hate reading essays that I mostly agree with, but are poorly written and completely miss the most important point. I opened up this one because of the title: Ben Shapiro Is On The Wrong Side Of History. Then I find nothing but shallow nitpicking and a tendency to overlook the big flaw.

Here’s his summary of Shapiro’s recent book, which he promises to examine from a philosophical standpoint.

Ben’s proclamation at the start of the book is essentially this: reason alone, absent of God’s moral law — and more precisely — the absence of Judeo-Chrisitan [sic] moral law dooms our world to live in a meaningless abyss. Ultimately, he thinks without this it means the doom of society.
He also wants to argue our toxic political climate and divide can be boiled down to our societal rejection of these Judeo-Christian values.

Nowhere in this essay does he evaluate those critical words, “Judeo-Christian values”. What are they? Why is Islam excluded from the Abrahamic tradition? How do we decide whether a society is actually following these ill-defined moral laws? Shapiro just thoughtlessly assumes that his definition of what is moral is universal and historical and right and proper, and this essayist just goes along with him and assumes “Judeo-Christian” is a real thing. It’s infuriating.

He quotes from Shapiro something he says “essentially sums up his reasoning”.

“The USSR rejected Judeo-Chrisitan[sic] values and Greek natural law…and they starved and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings. The Nazis rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek Natural law, and they shoved children into gas chambers.”

But he doesn’t follow through! Is not killing millions actually part of this fiction called “Judeo-Christian values”? The holy book they share praises war and slaughter, and has many examples of the same. The people who are historically Christian, and that belong to that similarly vaguely defined concept of “the West”, also murdered millions. Was King Leopold of Belgium “Judeo-Christian”? How about the British in the Opium Wars, or during the conquest of India? How do you then justify excluding Nazi Germany from the ranks of “Western Judeo-Christian” nations?

I wouldn’t argue that the Nazis were moral in the slightest, but they were definitely part of Western Civilization (is Shapiro going to argue otherwise?), they were definitely Christian, and the Germans are definitely rooted in Western/Christian philosophy — in fact, contributing largely to it — so how does that ignorant twerp get off claiming that Nazi philosophy was a rejection of the social values of a culture they were strongly part of?

Maybe a better approach would be to note that being Christian, Jewish, or Western does not make one good, by any means. That is the deep hole in the middle of Shapiro’s assumptions.


  1. says

    I got your Judeo-Christian values right here:

    These are the ordinances that you shall set before them:
    2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5

    But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God.[a] He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

    7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter.

    Believe me, there is plenty more where that came from.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    How do you then justify excluding Nazi Germany from the ranks of “Western Judeo-Christian” nations?

    You quote Heinrich Himmler, the Æsirist (and you elide the explicit Christianist avowals of Hitler, Mussolini, et alia).

  3. unclefrogy says

    well that is the kind of “thinking” ie rationalizations that has really just become a cliche
    It is apparent that what is important is the profession of Judeo/christian values without actually declaring what they are not you know how things are actually been done, any “mistakes” or questions are then considered evil and sins against god and outside those high moral values and not those of who is offering this profession of judeo/Christian values. Until they need to justify actions as fighting absolute evil and protecting civilization against some devil inspired threats of course.
    that is complete bull shit start to finish and completely normal
    uncle frogy

  4. says

    Christians have to make this argument to separate themselves from “Gott mit Uns” and the statement in in Mein Kampf that Hitler believed he was carrying out God’s will. Statements that the Nazis were atheists will forever be repeated and contradictory evidence will be denied or ignored because it doesn’t fit the narrative with which they are indoctrinated and so causes too much internal conflict for them to process; therefore to maintain their self-image, nothing happened, you said nothing; therefore, the argument stands.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    How do you then justify excluding Nazi Germany from the ranks of “Western Judeo-Christian” nations?

    Simple! Because the Nazis did bad stuff and we want people to believe that the religion we’re pimping is only capable of good. That’s how they justify it.

  6. Dunc says

    It’s not like Christian anti-Semitism was confined to the Nazis – it’s got a very long and well-documented history. Also, it’s important to remember that “Western” “Christians” spent hundreds of years slaughtering each other over disagreements about which was the correct form of Christianity.

  7. PaulBC says

    Tangential to this thread, but I found this 538 article interesting (and they support it with data):
    The Christian Right Is Helping Drive Liberals Away From Religion.

    I’m triggered whenever I hear the formulation “Judeo-Christian”. A friend of mine pointed out decades ago that you only hear it from Christians. There may be some exceptions, but it has the ring of Christians (specifically American Christians) who want to co-opt Jews to their cause rather than the other way around. The exclusion of Islam is also very questionable (I hadn’t even thought about that part till PZ brought it up).

    I think if the values of the US have any basis, it should be in the Enlightenment rather than any religious tradition. This does tie it into Western philosophy I admit. To be honest I’m not really interested in making any argument based on shared heritage, because the usual purpose of such an argument is exclude other heritages. There is a modern understanding of universal human rights. It should stand on its own rather than be tied to history and identity.

  8. whywhywhy says

    Seems like a similar issue faced when listening to theists argue about the existence of god. They almost never define god.

  9. robert79 says

    The Nazis cited Christian values when they wanted to slaughter the Jews. Nowadays the right wing nuts want to slaughter the Muslims, but they don’t want to sound like Nazis, because everyone agrees that’s bad, so they added the “Judeo” to it.

    Ask which “Judeo-Christian” values are derived from Judaism but not Christian and you get a blank stare.

  10. says

    “Why is Islam excluded from the Abrahamic tradition?” Thats news to me. I’ve attended a number of interfaith Abrahamic Conferences where Muslims are actually in the majority. I’ve also seen Muslims and Jews praying side by side at them. mind you I’ve also seen the occasional Sikh and Scientologist at them so their definition of “Abrahamic” is pretty flexible.
    As for warmongering and murder. The Australian PM who committed Australia to the obscenities of Afghanistan and Iraq was like President Bush a “good Christian” who openly courted the Christian right, including some secretive sects with a very shady reputation. The current PM who is on his way to have coffee and Chick-Filet with your orange anti-Christ is also a proud happy-clapper Pentecostal who preaches the Prosperity Gospel, attends a church founded by an accused pedophile and has committed Australia to support Trumps stupid misadventures in the Muddle East.

  11. raven says

    and Greek natural law

    There is no such thing as natural law, Greek, Catholic or otherwise.
    As soon as you see that phrase, you know you are dealing with an idiot.

    There is no way to figure out what natural law is, and no agreement on what are natural laws.

  12. raven says

    It’s already been mentioned but the Holocaust of the Jews was a xian production start to finish.
    It starts with the loads of antisemitism in the New Testament.
    Martin Luther, a wild eyed antisemite, drew up the first plans for the Final solution.
    The German SS carried it out.
    They were all Lutherans and Catholics because Himmler prohibited atheists from joining.

  13. John Morales says


    There is no such thing as natural law, Greek, Catholic or otherwise.
    As soon as you see that phrase, you know you are dealing with an idiot.

    Nah. Some super-smart people hold those ideas, because they’re smart enough to rationalise them. As do some religious traditions; karma is basically the concept that actions have consequences, and that’s pretty fucking natural, no matter how mystically expressed, or whether those actions are more abstract, such as moral actions.

  14. John Morales says

    PS but then, karma and samsara together, well that’s pretty fucking pernicious — redolent of
    “The rich man in his castle,
    The poor man at his gate,
    God made them high and lowly,
    And ordered their estate.”

    (Just replace God with karma, same sentiment)