ST. PAUL, Minn. – Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke to a packed house Monday night at University of Minnesota (UMN) St. Paul campus.
Despite UMN’s attempt to isolate the event miles away from the main campus, hundreds of students came to hear Shapiro speak. There was standing room only for the sold-out event, and hundreds of students were on a waitlist hoping to secure last-minute tickets.
“It’s good to see you all. I’m glad to see you made the trek all the way out to the cow campus,” Shapiro quipped.
Shapiro slammed UMN President Eric Kaler’s response to the controversy, calling his statement “absurd.” While Kaler claimed the university tried to “determine a location that meets everyone’s needs,” Shapiro pushed back on the statement saying it “didn’t really meet the needs of the several hundred people who are on waitlist.”
Many of the students Alpha News spoke to offered similar thoughts on UMN’s handling of the event. One student called out the left-wing protesters for having “a double standard on everything.”
“I believe it’s ridiculous that the university couldn’t get a bigger venue since this has been in the works since October,” UMN student Ben Bathke told Alpha News. “It’s funny how the Left has a double standard on everything. We don’t say anything about their right to protest but since Shapiro’s views differ from theirs and feelings might get hurt they throw us out in St. Paul.”
UMN student Danielle Williams expressed hope that the large amount of interest in the event will lead to more opportunities to bring conservative speakers on campus.
“I feel bad that not everyone who wanted to attend the event was able to due to the small capacity of the room we were given,” UMN student Danielle Williams told Alpha News. “However, I feel very grateful that Ben Shapiro was able to come to our campus and that I was able to attend the event. I was very surprised with the amount of interested that there was for a conservative speaker in Minneapolis. I hope Ben Shapiro’s attendance will lead to more conservative speakers on campus in the future.”
Despite UMN’s concerns over violent protesters, the event stayed civil. For the hundreds of students clapping and cheering inside the venue, there was a couple dozen protesters outside. Security for the event was tight with over 100 police officers on duty at the event.
“Apparently there are 100 police officers that were necessary to protect you guys and to protect me so that I can say basically conservative things,” Shapiro said. “All of this because of the overkill that is necessary on the university level thanks to the idiocy of so many of the leftist protesters who threaten violence and who threaten trouble.”
Shapiro’s lecture focused on capitalism and the First Amendment. Capitalism, Shapiro said, has gotten a “really bad rap” among young Americans. With socialism becoming increasingly popular among college students, Shapiro used part of his lecture to debunk the myth that socialism is more moral than capitalism.
“Capitalism is good because capitalism is freedom. Socialism is bad because socialism is tyranny. Not it’s an aspect of tyranny, socialism itself is tyranny,” Shapiro said. “The statement of socialism is that your labor is owed to the society. The notion of socialism is that you do not own your own freedom, you do not own your own time, you do not own your own labor, you do not own your own work, you do not own the products of your own work. The basic notion of capitalism is you own all of those things and now you have to engage in free exchange with someone else who does not owe you anything. If you want to thrive, if you want to succeed, you are going to have to make something somebody else wants.”
“People think capitalism is selfishness. No, socialism is selfishness,” Shapiro added. “The notion that somehow I have to supply you the money so you can sit in your basement and paint with watercolors. Socialism–the idea that I am supposed to fulfill all your dreams by paying for something I don’t want and have no need for.”
Shapiro finished the event by taking questions from the audience. Dozens of students lined up to ask Shapiro questions on many hotly debated topics including renaming monuments, gender identity in the medical field, white privilege, artificial intelligence, and moral relativity.
Watch the full event below: