What the Gates-Crowley “Teachable Moment” Really TeachesDennis PragerTuesday, August 04, 2009Readers on the left will be shocked, if not incredulous, to learn that neither I nor any conservative Iknow realized why the president asked Vice President Joseph Biden to join him, Harvard ProfessorHenry Louis Gates Jr., and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley for their fabled “beer summit” at theWhite House.I had simply assumed that the president invited Biden in order to lessen any tension by having someonewith no connection to the case join the meeting. Likewise, another conservative, the producer of myradio show, Allen Estrin, assumed that the vice president was in the area and was spontaneously invitedto join the trio. My engineer, Sean McConnell, just wondered why the vice president was there.We were all blindsided by the reason that liberals apparently instinctively understood: to provide racialbalance, as it wouldn’t look right if Sgt. Crowley were outnumbered two to one by blacks. In the wordsof the New York Times coverage of the event: “to add balance to the photo op that the White Housepresented: two black guys, two white guys, sitting around a table.”This is highly instructive.The fact that Crowley was outnumbered three to one by liberals meant little or nothing to mostAmericans on the left, because they deem race far more significant than values. Most conservatives, onthe other hand, saw the president, the vice-president, the Harvard professor and the police officer, nottwo blacks and two whites. Indeed, such a calculation would have struck most conservatives as absurd:Was Sgt. Crowley supposed to think, “Hey, great, another white is at the table; now I feel secure”?In order to deflect attention from the president’s gaffe in declaring that the Cambridge police “actedstupidly” right after acknowledging both that he was a personal friend of Louis Gates and that he didnot have all the facts, the president and his liberal supporters have told us that the Crowley-Gatesincident would be a great teachable moment for al Americans.
It has indeed turned out to be, but not at all in the way the president has meant it to be.All it has taught, indeed reconfirmed, is how much more race-conscious the left is.And it has taught us once again us that no matter how little anti-black racism actually exists inAmerica, most blacks and nearly all of the left deny this. That the vast majority of non-blacks are eitherproud of the fact or could not care less that a black man is president of the United States apparentlymeans next to nothing to most blacks and most liberals of all colors. Too many blacks and liberalscontinue to see whites as racist and therefore to see black-white interactions as race-centered evenwhen they are not.In my 27 years of broadcasting I have taken a many calls on air from black listeners some of whomhave told me that I do not what I am talking about when I speak about how little white racism there isin America. I am not a black, they argue, and therefore cannot possibly know how bad it is. Thesecallers tell me that they experience racism every day as a black person.My response has always been to ask, “OK. What was the racist incident you experienced today?”In every instance, the response was something along the lines of, “Well, not today.”To which I have always responded with another question: “OK, what was the racist incident youexperienced yesterday?”And, again, nothing was ever cited.I don’t give up. I then ask the caller when the last time was that he or she experienced racism. Answersto that are usually unclear.
My point is not that there is no anti-black racism in America. It is that there is much less than mostblacks and liberals think. Even when one assumes that ill treatment was due to racism, it is oftendifficult to know for certain.I then provide my listeners with this example: Years ago driving home from synagogue, both my sonsand I were wearing yarmulkes, or skull caps. A convertible car filled with young boys sped past me andyelled into the car “F--- you” and called my wife a “b---ch.”I then said to my family, “I have finally experienced anti-Semitism in America.”I decided to follow the car and, to my shock, they screamed the same obscenities at other cars, none ofwhose occupants were discernibly Jewish.It turned out that the event was not what I was certain, and had every reason to believe, was an exampleof anti-Semitism, but just an example of young thugs acting thuggish.So here’s the teachable moment: Harvard historian Louis Gates talked back to a police officer becausehe was treated as a suspect when he felt he should not be, given his fame as a Harvard professor. Theprofessor was certain that the only possible explanation for such treatment was that he, Gates, was ablack and the officer just another racist white policeman. The professor was wrong. The president waswrong. The press is wrong. Liberals are wrong. Even most blacks are wrong.Many American non-blacks -- even those who did not vote for Barack Obama -- were hopeful that theelection of a black as president of the United States would mean the end or at least the beginning of theend of the black and liberal view of America as racist.And here’s the other teachable moment: We were quite naïve. As far as most liberals and blacks areconcerned, nothing has changed.Too bad.
10 Questions for Supporters of ObamaCareDennis PragerTuesday, July 28, 20091. President Barack Obama repeatedly tells us that one reason national health care is needed is that wecan no longer afford to pay for Medicare and Medicaid. But if Medicare and Medicaid are fiscallyinsolvent and gradually bankrupting our society, why is a government takeover of medical care for therest of society a good idea? What large-scale government program has not eventually spiraled out ofcontrol, let alone stayed within its projected budget? Why should anyone believe that nationalizinghealth care would create the first major government program to "pay for itself," let alone get smallerrather than larger over time? Why not simply see how the Democrats can reform Medicare andMedicaid before nationalizing much of the rest of health care?2. President Obama reiterated this past week that "no insurance company will be allowed to deny youcoverage because of a pre-existing medical condition." This is an oft-repeated goal of the presidentsand the Democrats health care plan. But if any individual can buy health insurance at any time, whywould anyone buy health insurance while healthy? Why would I not simply wait until I got sick orinjured to buy the insurance? If auto insurance were purchasable once one got into an accident, whywould anyone purchase auto insurance before an accident? Will the Democrats next demand that lifeinsurance companies sell life insurance to the terminally ill? The whole point of insurance is that thehealthy buy it and thereby provide the funds to pay for the sick. Demanding that insurance companiesprovide insurance to everyone at any time spells the end of the concept of insurance. And if the answeris that the government will now make it illegal not to buy insurance, how will that be enforced? Howwill the government check on 300 million people?3. Why do supporters of nationalized medicine so often substitute the word "care" for the word"insurance?" it is patently untrue that millions of Americans do not receive health care. Millions ofAmericans do not have health insurance but virtually every American (and non-American on Americansoil) receives health care.4. No one denies that in order to come close to staying within its budget health care will be rationed.But what is the moral justification of having the state decide what medical care to ration?5. According to Dr. David Gratzer, health care specialist at the Manhattan Institute, "While 20 yearsago pharmaceuticals were largely developed in Europe, European price controls made drugdevelopment an American enterprise. Fifteen of the 20 top-selling drugs worldwide this year werebirthed in the United States." Given how many lives -- in America and throughout the world –American pharmaceutical companies save, and given how expensive it is to develop any new drug, willthe price controls on drugs envisaged in the Democrats bill improve or impair Americans health?6. Do you really believe that private insurance could survive a "public option"? Or is this really a coverfor the ideal of single-payer medical care? How could a private insurance company survive a "publicoption" given that private companies have to show a profit and government agencies do not have to –
and given that a private enterprise must raise its own money to be solvent and a government option hasaccess to others money -- i.e., taxes?7. Why will hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies do nearly as superb a job as they now doif their reimbursement from the government will be severely cut? Havent the laws of human behaviorand common sense been repealed here in arguing that while doctors, hospitals and drug companies willmake significantly less money they will continue to provide the same level of uniquely excellent care?8. Given how many needless procedures are ordered to avoid medical lawsuits and how much moneydoctors spend on medical malpractice insurance, shouldnt any meaningful "reform" of health careprovide some remedy for frivolous malpractice lawsuits?9. Given how weak the U.S. economy is, given how weak the U.S. dollar is, and given how much indebt the U.S. is in, why would anyone seek to have the U.S. spend another trillion dollars? Even if allthe other questions here had legitimate answers, wouldnt the state of the U.S. economy alone argueagainst national health care at this time?10. Contrary to the assertion of President Obama -- "we spend much more on health care than any othernation but arent any healthier for it" -- we are healthier. We wait far less time for procedures andsurgeries. Our life expectancy with virtually any major disease is longer. And if you do not countdeaths from violent crime and automobile accidents, we also have the longest life expectancy. Do youthink a government takeover of American medicine will enable this medical excellence to continue?Americans Are Beginning to Understand the LeftDennis PragerTuesday, July 21, 2009There is only one good thing about the Obama administrations attempts to nationalize most health careand to begin to control Americans energy consumption through cap-and-trade: clarity about the left.These attempts are enabling more and more Americans to understand the thinking and therefore thedanger of the left.The left has its first president -- with the possible exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- and for thefirst time controls the Democratic Party and both houses of Congress. In the name of compassion forthe sick and the poor and in the name of preventing worldwide environmental catastrophe, it isattempting to remake America.In so doing some principles of the left are becoming clearer to more Americans:Principle One: The left, as distinct from traditional liberals, is not, and has never been, interested increating wealth. The left is no more interested in creating wealth than Christians are in creatingMuslims or Muslims in creating Christians. The left is interested in redistributing wealth, not creatingit. The left spends the wealth that private enterprise and entrepreneurial risk-taking individuals create.
The left does not perceive that poverty is the human norm and therefore asks, "Why is there poverty?"instead of asking the economic question that matters: Why is there wealth? And the obvious result ofthe lefts disinterest in why wealth is created is that the left does not know how to create it.Principle Two: The reason the left asks why there is poverty instead of why there is wealth is that thelefts preoccupying ideal is equality -- not economic growth. And those who are preoccupied withequality are more troubled by wealth than by poverty. Ask almost anyone on the left -- not a liberal, buta leftist like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- which society they consider more desirable, asociety in which all its members were equally lower middle class or one in which some were poor,most were middle class, and some were rich (i.e., America today). And whatever they say, in theirhearts, the further left they are the more they would prefer the egalitarian society.Principle Three: The left everywhere seeks to make as big and powerful a state as possible. It does sobecause only the state can redistribute societys wealth. And because only a strong and powerful statecan impose values on society. The idea of small government, the American ideal since its inception, isthe antithesis of the lefts ideal.The cap-and-trade bills control of American energy and the "ObamaCare" takeover of American healthcare will mean an unprecedented expansion of the state. Added to increased taxes and the individualbecomes less and less significant as the state looms ever larger. Americans will be left to decide littlemore than what they do with vacation time -- just as Western Europeans do. Other questions are largelyleft to the state.Principle Four: The left imposes its values on others whenever possible and to the extent possible. Thatis why virtually every totalitarian regime in the 20th century was left-wing. Inherent to all left-wingthought is a totalitarian temptation. People on the left know that not only are their values morallysuperior to conservative values, but that they themselves are morally superior to conservatives. Thus,for example, the former head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, could say in all seriousness, “Incontradistinction to the Republicans, we dont think children ought to go to bed hungry at night.”Therefore, the morally superior have the right, indeed the duty, to impose their values on the rest of us:what light bulbs we use, what cars we drive, what we may ask a prospective employee, how we maydiscipline our children, and, of course, how much of our earnings we may keep.It is dishonest to argue that the right wants to impose its values to anywhere near the extent the leftdoes. This can be demonstrated to a fifth-grader: Who wants more power -- those who want to govern abig state or those who want to govern a small state?The president of the United States and the much of the Democratic Party embody these left-wingprinciples. Right now, Americas only hope of staying American rather than becoming European lies inmaking these principles as clear as possible to as many Americans as possible. The left is so giddy withpower right now, we actually have a chance.Why I Came to HondurasDennis Prager
Tuesday, July 14, 2009"Why have you come to Honduras?"That is the question posed to me by Hondurans, surprised that anyone from the outside world, let alonefrom the media, cares enough to now visit their small country (population 8 million), a country thatthey themselves consider relatively insignificant.The question is a valid one. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert (through July 29)warning Americans against coming here. There are very few outsiders here now. The plane fromHouston to San Pedro Sula, Honduras second largest city, was almost empty, and the few passengerswere nearly all Hondurans. The hotels are largely empty.It is all eerily reminiscent of Jerusalem during the height of the Intifada terror. I went there then for thesame reason I have come to Honduras now -- to broadcast my show and thereby show solidarity withan unfairly isolated country, and to encourage, by example, people to visit Israel then and Hondurasnow.Honduras has joined Israel as a pariah nation. The United Nations has condemned Honduras by a voteof acclamation, and the Organization of American States has suspended it.The way in which nearly all the worlds media portray the legal, Supreme Court-ordered ouster ofPresident Manuel (Mel) Zelaya is one major reason for the universal opprobrium. Because militarymen took part in the deportation of the sitting president, it has been portrayed as a classic LatinAmerican "military coup," and who can support a military coup?The lack of context in which this ouster took place has prevented the vast majority of the worlds newswatchers and readers from understanding what has happened.I wonder how many people who bother to read the news -- as opposed to only listen to or watch newsreports -- know:-- Zelaya was plotting a long-term, possibly lifetime, takeover of the Honduran government throughillegally changing the Honduran Constitution.-- Zelaya had personally led a mob attack on a military facility to steal phony "referendum" ballots thathad been printed by the Venezuelan government.-- Weeks earlier, in an attempt to intimidate the Honduran attorney general -- as reported by The WallStreet Journals Mary Anastasia OGrady, one of the only journalists in the world who regularly reportsthe whole story about Honduras -- "some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorneygenerals office. We have come to defend this countrys second founding, the groups leader reportedlysaid. If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection."-- No member of the military has assumed a position of power as a result of the "military coup."-- Zelayas own party, the Liberal Party, supported his removal from office and deportation fromHonduras.
-- The Liberal Party still governs Honduras.The United States is threatening to suspend all aid to one of the three poorest countries in the WesternHemisphere in order to force that country -- against its own laws and with the inevitable violence itwould entail -- to allow Zelaya back as president.Yet, no Honduran I talked to said he or she wanted Honduras to cave in to the American financialthreat. "We will tighten our belts," one man struggling to make a living told me. Indeed, what ishappening is that Hondurans are coming to realize that American aid -- even purely humanitarian aid --comes with strings.In our increasingly morally confused -- i.e., left-wing influenced -- world, even America is having aharder and harder time distinguishing between right and wrong as it comes to value realpolitik and adesire to be loved, from Iran to Venezuela to Honduras, more than it values liberty. To the extent thatAmericans will be loved, it will be thanks to supporting liberty and thanks to the work of Americancharities such as Cure International, with its pediatric orthopedic hospital here and in otherimpoverished places (www.cureinternational.org).Let there be no ambiguity here. Little Honduras was supposed to be the next country to lose its libertiesas it joined the anti-American, pro-Iranian Latin American left. But Little Honduras decided to fightback. And this has infuriated Venezuelas Hugo Chavez, who will surely attempt to foment violence inHonduras.Therefore, if you love liberty, you will do whatever you can do help Honduras resist Chavez and hisallies, which include the United Nations and Organization of American States.There are many ways to do that. Buy Honduran goods. Write your representatives in Washington toback the present, law-based Honduran government. And, yes, even visit this friendly beleaguered place.When the worlds governments isolate a country, with few exceptions, thats all you need to know aboutwho the good guys are.Obama Is in Russia, but Honduras Is Where the Action IsDennis PragerTuesday, July 07, 2009The importance of the summit meeting in Moscow between President Barack Obama and RussianPresident Dmitry Medvedev pales in comparison to the events taking place in Honduras.Whether or not the United States and Russia reduce their nuclear arsenals is ultimately meaningless.But whether Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro are victorious in Honduras or whether the movementtoward left-wing authoritarianism is finally defeated in a Latin American country is extremelysignificant.
The courage of the pro-liberty forces in Honduras is almost miraculous. It is almost too good to be true,given Honduras consequent isolation in the world.Even if you know little or nothing about the crisis in Honduras, nearly all you need to know in order toascertain which side is morally right is this: Venezuelas Hugo Chavez, Nicaraguas Daniel Ortega,Cubas Castro brothers, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States are all lined upagainst Honduras.And what troubles these good people? They claim that there was a military coup in Honduras thatrenders the present government illegal.Here, in brief, are the facts. You decide.The president of Honduras, Jose Manuel Zelaya, a protege of Hugo Chavez, decided that he wanted tobe able to be president for more than his one term that ends this coming January -- perhaps for life.However, because the histories of Honduras and Latin America are replete with authoritarians anddictators, Hondurass constitution absolutely forbids anyone from governing that country for more thanone term.So, Zelaya decided to follow Chavezs example and find a way to change his countrys constitution. Hedecided to do this on his own through a referendum, without the congressional authorization demandedby Hondurass constitution. He even had the ballots printed in Venezuela.As Mary Anastasia OGrady, who writes The Americas column in the Wall Street Journal, explains: "Aconstituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress. ButMr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chavez ship him the necessary ballots fromVenezuela."The Honduras Supreme Court ruled Zelayas nonbinding referendum unconstitutional, and theninstructed the military not to implement the vote as it normally does. When the head of the armedforces obeyed the legal authority, the Honduran Supreme Court, rather than President Zelaya, thepresident fired him and personally led a mob to storm the military base where the Venezuela-madeballots were being safeguarded.As Jorge Hernandez Alcerro, former Honduran ambassador to the United States, wrote, "Mr. Zelayaand small segments of the population tried to write a new constitution, change the democratic systemand seek his re-election, which is prohibited by the constitution."In order to stop this attempt to subvert the Honduran constitution, while keeping Honduras under therule of law and preventing a Chavez-like dictatorship from developing in its country, the HonduranSupreme Court ordered the military to arrest Zelaya. They did so and expelled him to neighboringCosta Rica to prevent certain violence.Was this a "military coup" as we understand the term? Columnist Mona Charen answered this best:"There was an attempted coup in Honduras, but it was Zelaya who initiated it, not his opponents."Or, to put in another way: When did a military coup ever take place that was ordered by that countryssupreme court, that was supported by the political party of the president who was overthrown, in which
not one person was injured, let alone killed, and which replaced the ousted the president with thepresident of the countrys congress, a member of the same party as the ousted president?But none of this matters to the United Nations, which never met a left-wing tyrant it didnt findappealing. That is why the president of the U.N. General Assembly, a former Sandinista foreignminister, Miguel dEscoto Brockmann, accompanied Zelaya in the airplane on Zelayas first attempt toreturn to Honduras on July 5. (Brockmann, among his other radical moral positions, is so virulentlyanti-Israel that the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations threatened not to attend the U.N.Holocaust Memorial Day event if Brockmann showed up.)And none of this matters to the OAS, which just lifted its ban on Cubas membership and which saysnothing about Chavezs shutting down of Venezuelas opposition radio and television stations.And none of this matters to the worlds left-wing media. Thus, on July 1, a writer for the UnitedKingdom newspaper The Guardian penned this insight: "There is no excuse for this coup. … The battlebetween Zelaya and his opponents pits a reform president who is supported by labor unions and socialorganizations against a Mafia-like, drug-ridden, corrupt political elite." To the Guardian writer, Zelayawas a "reform president." Lenins useful idiots never die out.And the Los Angeles Times editorial page wrote: "Even though the Honduran Congress and militarymay believe they are defending the country against a would-be dictator, the ends dont justify themeans."Quite a great deal of foolishness in one sentence. That the Los Angeles Times does not believe thatZelaya is a would-be dictator is mind-numbing. As for the cliche that "the ends dont justify themeans," in fact they quite often do. That is one of the ways in which we measure means. One assumesthat while the Los Angeles Times believes that Americans should be law-abiding, it agrees with RosaParks having broken the law. The ends (fighting segregation) justified the means (breaking the law).If Honduras is hung out to dry, if America suspends trade and economic aid, the forces arrayed againstliberty in Latin America will have won a major victory. On the other hand, if Honduras is notabandoned now, those Iran-supporting, America-hating, liberty-loathing forces will have suffered amajor defeat.Even members of the Obama administration recognize this. As quoted in the Washington Post, JeffreyDavidow, a retired U.S. ambassador who served as President Obamas special adviser for the recentSummit of the Americas, said:"The threats against democracy in Latin America … are not those coming from military coups, butrather from governments which are ignoring checks and balances, overriding other elements ofgovernment."Let your representatives in Congress know that America needs to stand with liberty, not with Castro,Ortega, Zelaya, Chavez, the OAS, and the U.N. And buy Honduran goods. I am smoking a terrificHonduran cigar as I write these words: God bless Honduras.
Stoning of Soraya M.: See This Film (or Stop Complaining About Hollywood)Dennis PragerTuesday, June 30, 2009With the possible exception of university administrations, there is no institution as bereft of courage asHollywood.In Hollywood courage is defined as savaging oil, power and tobacco executives on film. Or producingyet another movie on the evils of the Iraq War. But if courage means doing what is unpopular --especially among one’s peers -- I can recall precious few politically incorrect films made in the lastdecade ("The Dark Knight" comes to mind as a possible exception).How many politically incorrect movies has Hollywood made in the last generation? How many films,for instance, have depicted communist evil? Given that Communism murdered more than 100 millioninnocents -- in peacetime! -- and enslaved about 1 billion more, one would think that Hollywood wouldhave made a fair number of movies depicting the horrors of communism. But aside from "Dr. Zhivago"and "The Killing Fields," I cannot think of any. There are, of course, innumerable films depicting Nazievil -- as well there should be -- but it takes no courage to make films depicting Nazis as evil.Likewise, given Sept. 11, the slaughter of innocents around the world, and the atrocities within theMuslim world committed by “Islamists,” “Islamic fundamentalists,” “jihadists,” “Muslim radicals”“Islamofascists” -- or whatever other term one prefers -- one would think that Hollywood would havemade many films on this subject. But it hasnt.Yet, now, released as if by Providence the week after the fraudulent elections in Iran and thesuppression and murder of Iranian dissidents, is a film about the nature of the radical Muslims whogovern Iran. Titled "The Stoning of Soraya M.," the film depicts events based on the true story of awoman stoned to death in a rural village in Iran in 1986 for allegedly committing adultery.If you want to understand the type of people who run Iran, see this film. If you want to understand whymen and women risk their lives to demonstrate against the fascist theocracy that rules Iran, see thisfilm. The film is about the type of people who become “supreme leader” (Ali Khamanei) or presidentof Iran (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). It is about their mendacity, their use of religion to commit barbarity,and, of course, their despicable treatment of women.And don’t see it solely in order to understand what the dissidents in Iran are fighting -- though thatwould be an entirely valid reason. See it also because it is a powerful theatrical and emotionalexperience. Washington Post reviewer Dan Zak wrote that he wept while watching the movie. TheWall Street Journal described "The Stoning of Soraya M." in these words: “This is classic tragedy insemi-modern dress that means to horrify, and does so more successfully than any film in recentmemory.” Los Angeles Times film reviewer Kevin Thomas wrote that the film, achieves “the impact ofa Greek tragedy through its masterful grasp of suspense and group psychology, and some superbacting.” And Claudia Puig of USAToday called the film “emotionally explosive,” a “shattering andpowerful drama.”On the other hand, Amnesty International loathed the film. Which is another good reason to see it. Thisorganization is morally confused. It has become a leftist organization in the guise of a human rights
organization. It calls the film “sensationalist” because “the audience response is likely to be disgust andrevulsion at Iranians themselves, who are portrayed as primitive and blood-thirsty savages.” I wonder ifthere are 10 people who see this film who will then conclude that Iranians in general -- as opposed tomany religious fundamentalists among them -- are “primitive and bloodthirsty savages.”Furthermore, Amnesty International argues, Iranians and foreign human rights organizations arealready fighting for women and against such atrocities as stoning. Therefore, the film is unnecessary. Ifyou don’t follow that argument, you are not alone.Finally, the most important reason to see the film could be this:Many of us lament Hollywood’s lack of courage, its lack of moral seriousness, and its politicalcorrectness. Here, then, is a courageous, morally deep, and politically incorrect film that mainstreamreviewers -- as cited above -- have lavished praise on. It should be the ideal film for serious Americanswho properly complain about Hollywood’s offerings. But if a riveting drama with a courageous theme,Oscar-level acting, which is as relevant as today’s headlines, fails at the box office, Hollywood willhave been vindicated.It therefore seems clear to me that those who do not see this film have forfeited the right to complainabout Hollywood.Senator Embarrassment, D-CalifDennis PragerTuesday, June 23, 2009Last week, a brief moment in time captured much that has gone wrong with post-60s liberalism andfeminism.Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was testifying at a hearing before theSenate Committee on Environment and Public Works. At one point during his responses to questionsposed by the Committee Chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the senator interrupted the general toadmonish him about using the word "maam" when addressing her:"You know, do me a favor," Boxer said in an annoyed tone of voice. "Could you say senator instead ofmaam? Its just a thing; I worked so hard to get that title, so Id appreciate it. Yes, thank you.""Yes, senator," the humiliated general responded.The oxygen was sucked out of the room by Sen. Boxers remarks.
It is hard to know where to begin in describing how reduced the U.S. Senate was at that moment. It isnot due to differing politics that many in California are embarrassed to have Boxer as their senator; fewCalifornians who differ from Sen. Dianne Feinstein are embarrassed by her.To think that a body once called "the worlds most deliberative" was reduced to this juvenile level is tomourn for America. The immaturity of a U.S. senator needing to ask to always be responded to as"senator" rather than "maam" in an ongoing dialogue with someone -- of equal stature, it should benoted -- should be self-evident to anyone.However, in case it is not, two arguments should make this clear.First, people in the military are taught to call their superiors "maam" and "sir." Thus, for example, asergeant responding to a general will say, "Yes, sir," to a male general and, "Yes, maam," to a femalegeneral. Though not in the military, I always feel honored when a caller to my radio show says calls mesir. And I always have renewed respect for the military for inculcating that respectful form of addressinto its members.To object to being called sir or maam by anyone, especially a member of the military and especially ahigh ranking member of the military is to betray an ignorance of the military and a tone deafness tocivility that is appalling in anyone, especially a member of the United States Senate .Second, and both more revealing and more instructive, is to understand how inconceivable it would befor a male senator to make such comments. Neither a Democrat nor Republican could imagine a malesenator interrupting the testimony of a brigadier general to admonish him publicly, "You know, do mea favor. Could you say senator instead of sir? Its just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so Idappreciate it."If a male senator had said that, he would rightly be regarded as insecure, narcissistic, arrogant, andjuvenile. Which is precisely why no male senator would ever say such a thing: He would know that hewould be the laughingstock of the U.S. Senate.For example, every Obama press conference transcript I read included journalists calling PresidentObama "sir," as was true for previous presidents. Can one imagine President Obama halting theconference to announce that because he had worked hard to earn the title, he expects never to be called"sir," but only "president"? It is inconceivable. People would have thought he had lost his mind.Why did Boxer fail to think that way?The answer is not only because she happens to act foolishly and childishly. The reason is deeper.Liberalism has lowered expectations of behavior for everyone in America except white Christianheterosexual males. They are the only Americans from whom dignified and mature conduct is alwaysexpected. Liberals treat women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, and many non-Christians, with what is knownas the soft bigotry of low expectations. Many liberal women, blacks, Hispanics, and gays know that anduse it to get away with conduct and speech that no WASP heterosexual male could. People rise ordescend to the level of behavior expected of them.That is why those 17 seconds in the U.S. Senate were so revealing and worthy of attention. Theyencapsulated the way in which modern liberalism has lowered the bar of civility for so many inAmerica. And they revealed -- yet another time -- why this particular senator from California is an
embarrassment to her colleagues, her state, and the U.S. miltary. It was not, unfortunately, anembarrassment to Barbara Boxer.Dear Iranians: Dont Count on America (or Any Country Led by Left)Dennis PragerTuesday, June 16, 2009"The administration has remained as quiet as possible during the Iranian election season and in the daysof street protests since Fridays vote."-- Washington Post , Monday June 15, 2009"Were going to withhold comment. … I mean were just waiting to see."-- Vice-President Joe Biden"We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting andwatching to see what the Iranian people decide."-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton"Most countries appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach, including the European Union andChina, Germany, Italy and Japan -- nations with strong economic ties to Iran. France said it was closelyfollowing the situation."-- Associated Press, June 13, 2009For those who look to "world opinion," "the opinion of mankind," or to the United Nations for moralguidance or for coming to the aid of victims of oppression, the past few days and presumably the nextfew days in Iran, provide yet another example of their uselessness.A million or more Iranians are demonstrating against last Fridays obviously stolen election ofMahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the world -- except for the lowlifes who rule places like Venezuela andSyria and who immediately sent their effusive congratulations to Ahmadinejad -- is quiet. The world is"closely following the situation," just as it followed the situations of the Jews during the Holocaust, theUkrainians, the Chinese under Mao, the Rwandans, the Cambodians, Tibetans, and so many others.I have long believed that the citizens of most free countries do not deserve the gift of freedom that theyhave. Few have any interest in promoting freedom, only in having it for themselves. Insofar as othercountries are concerned what matters to most free countries, as to dictatorships, is power.
That is what America and Europe are watching -- where the power in Iran will go. Whoever wins willget free America and free Europes respect.Now it may be argued that if the American president speaks out in support of those demonstrating forfree elections in Iran, it will be counterproductive.How exactly? What will the unelected President Ahmadinejad and the unelected Supreme Ruler, GrandAyatollah, the pre-medieval Ali Khamenei do? Get angry at America? Threaten to annihilate anothercountry? Start building nuclear arms? Stone women who commit sexual sins? Hey, wait, havent theydone all that already?As bad as most of the worlds countries are, those led by left-wing governments are even worse when itcomes to defending democracy.A primary reason America is "waiting" and "watching" and "monitoring" while Iranians are beaten inthe streets of Tehran is that the country is led by the left.Compare the Canadian reaction, now that it has a conservative government:On the very next day after the Iranian elections, according to CNN, "Canadian Foreign Affairs MinisterLawrence Cannon told reporters in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Saturday, that Canada was deeplyconcerned about allegations of voting irregularities. Were troubled by reports of intimidation ofopposition candidates offices by security forces."Even usually appeasing Germany, now led by a more conservative government, had a sharper responsethan America:As reported by CNN, "German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told ARD Sunday that theIranian ambassador in Berlin would be summoned to explain the treatment of protesters against theresult. I have already prompted Iran, together with European colleagues today, to quickly shed light onwhat has happened there -- if one can take the announced election results there seriously or not," headded.And Germanys Deutsche Welle reported on Monday, June 15:"German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is very concerned and condemns the wave of arrestsfollowing the Iranian election."Now compare Labor-led Britains response:As reported by CNN: "U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Saturday that the U.K. governmenthad followed carefully, and admired, the passion and debate during the Iranian election campaign. Wehave also heard the concerns about the counting of ballots expressed by two of the candidates. This is amatter for the Iranian authorities to address. We will continue to follow developments.""This is a matter for the Iranian authorities to address." Surely a proud moment for Britain.
The best example comes, as it often does, from that quintessential man of the left, former President ofthe United States Jimmy Carter, speaking from -- where else? – the Palestinian City of Ramallah: "Ithink this election has brought out a lot of opposition to (Ahmadinejads} policies in Iran, and Im surehell listen to those opinions and hopefully moderate his position."Not everyone on the left is "sure" that Ahmadinejad will "listen" to his opponents opinions. But thatlevel of naivete regarding evil is almost exclusive to the left.The Speech President Obama Won’t Give in EgyptDennis PragerTuesday, June 02, 2009This week, President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a major address in Cairo to the Muslim world.He is likely to reiterate what he has stated previously to Muslim audiences, that America has no battlewith Islam, deeply respects Islam and the Muslim world, and apologizes for any anti-Muslim sentimentthat any Americans may express.Here is what an honest address would sound like:"Thank you for the honor of addressing the Egyptian people and the wider Muslim world."I am here primarily to dispel some of the erroneous beliefs many Muslims have about America and tothereby reassure you that America has no desire to be at war with the Muslim world."To my great disappointment, many Muslims have come to believe that my country has declared waron Muslims and Islam."Because of this widespread belief, I said in an interview with al-Arabiya a few months ago, that weneed to restore “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recentlyas 20 or 30 years ago.”"Lets’ look a little deeper at that relationship. For the truth is, as noted by the Pulitzer-Prize winningcolumnist for the American newspaper the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, in the last 20-30years America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for Muslims. We Americans engaged in fivemilitary campaigns on behalf of Muslims, each one resulting in the liberation of a Muslim people:Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq."Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving AfricanMuslims -- in which] 43 Americans were killed -- were all humanitarian exercises. In none of them wasthere a significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. So, in fact, in these 20 years, my country, the UnitedStates of America has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any other nation, Muslimor non-Muslim.
"While I recognize that gratitude is the rarest positive human quality, I need to say -- because candor isthe highest form respect -- that America has not only not received little gratitude from the Muslimworld, it has been the object of hatred, mass murder, and economic attack from Muslim individuals,groups, and countries."Just to cite a few of many examples from the last 40 years:"In 1973, Muslim terrorists attacked the American embassy in Sudan and murdered our country’sambassador, Cleo Noel, and the chief deputy of the mission, George C. Moore. Later in 1973, the Araboil embargo against America sent my country into a long and painful recession. In 1977, Muslimmilitants murdered the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Frances E. Meloy, and Robert O.Waring, the U.S.economic counselor. In 1979 radical Muslims violently attacked my country’s embassy in Teheran, andfor 14 months held American diplomats hostage, often in appalling conditions. In 1998, Muslimmilitants bombed the American embassy in Nairobi, killing 12 Americans and 280 Kenyans, andbombed our embassy in Tanzania, killing another 11 Americans. Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Muslimswho had been living in America slit the throats of American pilots and flight attendants and then flewairplanes into civilian buildings in New York City, burning 3,000 innocent Americans to death."So, my friends here in Egypt, between America and the Muslim world, who exactly has been makingwar on whom?"I have enormous differences with my predecessor, President George W. Bush. But please rememberthat less than a week after thousands of Americans were slaughtered in the name of your religion,President Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., and announced that Islam was areligion of peace. Moreover, in a country of 300 million people, of whom only a few million areMuslim, there is virtually no recorded incident of anti-mosque or other anti-Muslim violence despitethe butchery of 9/11 and the popular support for Osama Bin Laden that we saw in the Muslim worldafter 9/11."I ask you to please ask yourselves what Egypt’s reaction would have been had 19 Christians, in thename of Christianity, slaughtered 3,000 Egyptians. How would the Christians of Egypt and elsewherein the Middle East have fared?"As it is, because of persecution by Muslim majorities, Christians have been leaving the Middle East insuch great numbers that for the first time since Christ, there are large parts of the Middle East that havebecome empty of both Jews and Christians."Yet, at the same time, millions of Muslims have moved to Western countries and to America. It is fairto say that the freest, and often the safest, place in the world for a practicing Muslim is the UnitedStates of America."Muslim-Americans are treated exactly as other Americans are treated. It is exceedingly rare to hearany anti-Muslim bigotry in my country. And while there is some criticism of the Muslim world, butthere is far more criticism of Christianity in America than of Islam."Unfortunately, in much of the Muslim world today anti-Jewish speeches and writing are frequentlyidentical to the genocidal anti-Semitism one heard and read in Nazi Germany. This is a blight on yourcivilization. How can you seriously charge that America is at war with Islam when in fact it is much ofthe Islamic world that is at war with Jews and Christians?
"I know that you would like me to announce that America is abandoning its support for Israel. Butevery president since Harry Truman, Democrat and Republican, has been passionate about enablingIsrael to defend itself from those who wish to destroy it. And that, dear Muslims, is the issue. Americawill continue to support a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute, but the issue has never reallybeen about two states. It has always been about Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims recognizingIsrael’s right to exist as a Jewish state."As a friend of Egypt and of the Muslim world, I want to say something from the bottom of my heart:The day the Arab world ceases obsessing over the existence of a Jewish state the size of Belize will bea great day for the Arab and Muslim worlds. Your obsession with Israel has cost you dearly in everyarea of social development. This is easily demonstrated. If Israel were destroyed -- and the so-called“right of return” of millions of third-generation Palestinian refugees would ensure that outcome aseffectively as would a nuclear device from Iran -- what difference would that make to the Egyptianeconomy, to Egyptian lack of freedoms, or anything else that matters to Egyptians? In my opinion,none whatsoever. Preoccupation with Israel has simply enabled the Arab world to not look within for60 years."Finally, my fellow Americans would feel more confident in American-Muslim relations if they hadever seen a large demonstration of Muslims anywhere against all the terror committed by Muslims inthe name of Islam -- whether in London, Madrid, New York, Bali, Cairo, or Mumbai. The mark of agreat civilization -- and Arab civilization was indeed once great -- is a willingness to criticize itself."Thank you again for this opportunity to address you. I could have patronized you by exaggeratingAmerican misdeeds and ignoring yours. But I have too much respect for you."Shukran jiddan."President Has “More Effective” Method to Get Intel from Terrorists – What Is It?Dennis PragerTuesday, May 26, 2009In his latest address – on Guantanamo detainees – President Obama said something of extraordinaryimportance that seems to have been missed by the media:“I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe. Icould not disagree more…I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means ofinterrogation.”As this President chooses his words carefully, these claims need to be understood.Note that Mr. Obama did not say what nearly all opponents of water-boarding say – that water-boarding is not an effective method of extracting reliable, life-saving, information. He took no issuewith former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s claims that water-boarding or “enhanced interrogation”saved American and other lives. Indeed, he clearly leaves open the possibility, even the likelihood, thatthis claim is accurate. Rather, what he says is that “methods like water-boarding were not necessary to
keep us safe” – not necessary, not ineffective. And why does he believe this? Because they are not “themost effective means of interrogation.”In other words, the President’s view seems to be that water-boarding the three terrorists did elicit vital,life-saving, information. However, he contends that we could have obtained all that information usingmeans of interrogation that were both non-brutal and more effective.I pray the President is right. I would love America to be able to say “America never uses brutalmethods of interrogation, let alone tortures” while simultaneously obtaining information it needs fromcaptured terrorists to save thousands of innocent people from death and maiming.But if in fact, these methods exist, they have never been revealed. President Obama needs to share thisdiscovery with the American people, or, if they must be state secrets, with a select few individuals fromCongress and the intelligence community.It is as if the President, or anyone else, announced that brutal methods of combating cancer likechemotherapy and radiation were “not the most effective means” of combating cancer – and thenrefused to say what non-brutal means were more effective.This is the paramount issue in the water-boarding debate. As Democratic Senator Charles Schumer saidfive years ago, it is essentially a no-brainer that we must “do what you have to do” if we apprehend aterrorist who has the information that can prevent an imminent terrorist attack.Most opponents of water-boarding terrorists rely on the belief that such a method is as unnecessary as itis illegal. Therefore, if it is shown that water-boarding did in fact provide information that saved manyinnocent lives, opponents have to argue one of two positions: that there was a better, non-brutal,method available; or that it is morally preferable to have innocent Americans and others killed, braindamaged, blinded, and paralyzed rather than water-board a single terrorist.Given that just about all of us – proponents of rare water-boarding and opponents of all water-boarding– want both security and not to water-board – the President can do the country and the world anextraordinary service by revealing – if necessary, only to a select few – what those non-brutal methodsare that he knows to be “more effective.”This would end the debate, give America more security, and enable us to say we never water-boardingor torture.I, for one, pray those methods exist. But I don’t believe they do or that the President has a clue whatthey are.Socialism and Secularism Suck Vitality Out of SocietyDennis Prager
Tuesday, May 12, 2009Outside of politics, sports, and popular entertainment, how many living Germans, or French, orAustrians, or even Brits can you name?Even well-informed people who love art and literature and who follow developments in science andmedicine would be hard pressed to come up with many, more often any, names. In terms of greatnessin literature, art, music, the sciences, philosophy, and medical breakthroughs, Europe has virtuallyfallen off the radar screen.This is particularly meaningful given how different the answer would have been had you asked anyonethe same question between just 80 and 120 years ago -- and certainly before that. A plethora of world-renowned names would have flowed.Obvious examples would include (in alphabetical order): Brecht, Buber, Cezanne, Chekhov, Curie,Debussy, Eiffel, Einstein, Freud, Hesse, Kafka, Mahler, Mann, Marconi, Pasteur, Porsche, Proust,Somerset Maugham, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tolstoy, Zeppelin, Zola.Not to mention the European immortals who lived within the century before them: Mozart, Beethoven,Dostoevsky, Darwin, Kierkegaard, Manet, Monet, Hugo and Van Gogh, to name only a few.What has happened?What has happened is that Europe, with a few exceptions, has lost its creativity, intellectual excitement,industrial innovation, and risk taking. Europe’s creative energy has been sapped. There are many lovelyEuropeans; but there aren’t many creative, dynamic, or entrepreneurial ones.The issues that preoccupy most Europeans are overwhelmingly material ones: How many hours perweek will I have to work? How much annual vacation time will I have? How many social benefits can Ipreserve (or increase)? How can my country avoid fighting against anyone or for anyone?Why has this happened?There are two reasons: secularism and socialism (aka the welfare state).Either one alone sucks much of the life out of society. Together they are likely to be lethal.Even if one holds that religion is false, only a dogmatic and irrational secularist can deny that it wasreligion in the Western world that provided the impetus or backdrop for nearly all the uniquely greatart, literature, economic and even scientific advances of the West. Even the irreligious were forced todeal with religious themes -- if only in expressing rebellion against them.Religion in the West raised all the great questions of life: Why are we here? Is there purpose toexistence? Were we deliberately made? Is there something after death? Are morals objective or only amatter of personal preference? Do rights come from the state or from the Creator?
And religion gave positive responses: We are here because a benevolent God made us. There is,therefore, ultimate purpose to life. Good and evil are real. Death is not the end. Human rights areinherent since they come from God. And so on.Secularism drains all this out of life. No one made us. Death is the end. We are no more significantthan any other creatures. We are all the results of mere coincidence. Make up your own meaning(existentialism) because life has none. Good and evil are merely euphemisms for “I like” and “Idislike.”Thus, when religion dies in a country, creativity wanes. For example, while Christian Russia wasbackward in many ways, it still gave the world Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Tchaikovsky. OnceChristianity was suppressed, if not killed, in Russia, that country became a cultural wasteland (with afew exceptions like Shostakovich and Solzhenitsyn, the latter a devout Christian). It is true that this waslargely the result of Lenin, Stalin and Communism; but even where Communism did not take over, thedecline of religion in Europe meant a decline in human creativity -- except for nihilistic and/or absurdisms, which have greatly increased. As G. K. Chesterton noted at the end of the 19th century, whenpeople stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. One not onlythinks of the violent isms: Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Fascism, Maoism, and Nazism, but of all thenon-violent isms that have become substitute religions – e.g., feminism, environmentalism, andsocialism.The state sucks out creativity and dynamism just as much as secularism does. Why do anything foryourself when the state will do it for you? Why take care of others when the state will do it for you?Why have ambition when the state is there to ensure that few or no individuals are rewarded more thanothers?America has been the center of energy and creativity in almost every area of life because it hasremained far more religious than any other industrialized Western democracy and because it hasrejected the welfare state social model.Which is why so many are so worried about President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party’sdesire to transform -- in their apt wording -- America into a secular welfare state. The greatest engineof moral, religious, economic, scientific, and industrial dynamism is being starved of its fuel. Thebigger the state, the smaller its people.Question to Left: If You love America, Why “Transform” It?Dennis PragerTuesday, May 05, 2009If you met a man who said he would like to “transform” or “remake” his wife, would you conclude thathe: a) thought very highly of his wife and loved her? Or b) held his wife in rather low esteem andtherefore found living her rather difficult?The answer is obvious: Those who wish to remake anything (or anyone) do not think highly of theperson or thing they wish to remake.
Little is as revealing of Barack Obama’s and the Left’s view of America than their use of the words“transform” and “remake” when applied to what they most want to do to America.I among others pointed this out during the presidential campaign when Barack Obama frequentlypromised he would “transform America.” That is why those of us attuned to the importance of wordsand who hold America in high esteem were so worried about an Obama election.Americans on the Left frequently attack critics for labeling them “unpatriotic” and/or accusing them ofnot loving America. The first charge is false is to the best of my knowledge. I have searched in vain foran instance of a normative conservative or Republican spokesman calling Democrats or liberals“unpatriotic.”The second, however, is a more complex question.It is not an attack on the left to say that their own rhetoric suggests that they love a vision of Americaconsiderably more than they love the reality of America; that they love what America could be ratherthan what it is. Otherwise, how to explain this liberal vocabulary of “remaking” and “transforming”America. You don’t yearn to transform or remake that which you love.Many years ago, the prominent Jewish writer, my friend since childhood, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin,helped to clarify – in a non-partisan way – a major difference between liberals and conservatives.“Conservatives,” he said, “romanticize the past; liberals romanticize the future.”The romanticizing of the future has been a distinguishing characteristic of the Left since Karl Marx.Leftist ideologies have secular eschatologies. The further left one goes the greater the belief inrevolution, the need to overthrow the contemporary order. That is why Marx so hated religion – he andEngels saw it as the “opiate of the masses” because religion, in their view, taught people how to dealwith their (abject) condition rather than to become revolutionaries. But one day -- one great day – “allmen will be brothers” in the stirring words of the revolutionary song that ends Beethoven’s NinthSymphony.The problem is that compared with such a future utopia, no actual society could possibly compete.Certainly not racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, unequal America.In light of those frequently made criticisms of America, I have often asked representatives of the Leftwhy they criticize America so much if they love it so much. “Precisely because we love America, wecriticize it. You criticize that which you love,” is the nearly universal response.But, of course, it isn’t true. If you constantly criticize your spouse, for example, it is difficult toimagine that you really do love him or her. And perhaps more important, it is very unlikely that yourspouse feels loved. That is why after being routinely described as racist, sexist, imperialist, etc., it isdifficult to be able to tell that America is loved by the Left.This is not written in order to indict the Left, let alone the President, for not loving America. No onecan measure an other’s feelings. Furthermore I do not question the sincerity of anyone who says heloves America. What I question are the actions and rhetoric of those who claim to love America yetwant to transform and remake it.
Nine Questions the Left Needs to Answer About TortureDennis PragerTuesday, April 28, 2009Any human being with a functioning conscience or a decent heart loathes torture. Its exercise has beena blight on humanity. With this in mind, those who oppose what the Bush administration did to someterror suspects may be justified. But in order to ascertain whether they are, they need to respond tosome questions:1. Given how much you rightly hate torture, why did you oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein,whose prisons engaged in far more hideous tortures, on thousands of times more people, than Americadid -- all of whom, moreover, were individuals and families who either did nothing or simply opposedtyranny? One assumes, furthermore, that all those Iraqi innocents Saddam had put into shreddingmachines or whose tongues were cut out and other hideous tortures would have begged to bewaterboarded.2. Are all forms of painful pressure equally morally objectionable? In other words, are you willing toacknowledge that there are gradations of torture as, for example, there are gradations of burns, with athird-degree burn considerably more injurious and painful than a first-degree burn? Or is all painfultreatment to be considered torture? Just as you, correctly, ask proponents of waterboarding where theydraw their line, you, too, must explain where you draw your line.3. Is any maltreatment of anyone at any time -- even a high-level terrorist with knowledge that wouldlikely save innocents’ lives -- wrong? If there is no question about the identity of a terror suspect , andhe can provide information on al-Qaida -- for the sake of clarity, let us imagine that Osama Bin Ladenhimself were captured -- could America do any form of enhanced interrogation involving pain and/ordeprivation to him that you would consider moral and therefore support?4. If lawyers will be prosecuted for giving legal advice to an administration that you consider immoraland illegal, do you concede that this might inhibit lawyers in the future from giving unpopular butsincerely argued advice to the government in any sensitive area? They will, after all, know that if thenext administration disapproves of their work, they will be vilified by the media and prosecuted by thegovernment.5. Presumably you would acknowledge that the release of the classified reports on the handling of high-level, post-Sept. 11 terror suspects would inflame passions in many parts of the Muslim world. Ifinnocents were murdered because nonviolent cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Danishnewspaper, presumably far more innocents will be tortured and murdered with the release of thesereports and photos. Do you accept any moral responsibility for any ensuing violence against Americanand other civilians?6. Many members of the intelligence community now feel betrayed and believe that the intelligencecommunity will be weakened in their ability to fight the most vicious organized groups in the world. Asreported in the Washington Post, former intelligence officer “(Mark) Lowenthal said that fear hasparalyzed agents on the ground. Apparently, many of those in the know are certain that life-savinginformation was gleaned from high level terror suspects who were waterboarded. As Mike Scheuer,former head of the CIA unit in charge of tracking Osama bin Laden, said, ”We were very certain that
the interrogation procedures procured information that was worth having.” If, then, the intelligencecommunity has been adversely affected, do you believe it can still do the work necessary to protecttens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people from death and maiming?7. Will you seek to prosecute members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,who were made aware of the waterboarding of high-level suspects and voiced no objections?8. Would you agree to releasing the photos of the treatment of Islamic terrorists only if accompanied byphotos of what their terror has done to thousands of innocent people around the world? Would youagree to photos -- or at least photo re-enactments -- of, let us say, Iraqi children whose faces were tornoff with piano wire by Islamists in Iraq? If not, why not? Isn’t context of some significance here?9. You say that America’s treatment of terror suspects will cause terrorists to treat their captives,especially Americans, more cruelly. On what grounds do you assert this? Did America’s far moremoral treatment of Japanese prisoners than Japan’s treatment of American prisoners in World War IIhave any impact on how the Japanese treated American and other prisoners of war? Do you think thatevil people care how morally pure America is?If you fail to address these questions, it would appear that you care less about morality and torture thanabout vengeance against the Bush administration.The More Given, the Less EarnedDennis PragerTuesday, April 21, 2009One of the reasons for the ascendance of the English-speaking world has been that the Englishlanguage is almost alone among major languages in having the word “earn.”Those of us whose native language is English assume that the phrase “to earn a living” is universal. Itisn’t. It is almost unique to English. Few languages have the ability to say this.In the Romance languages, for example – a list that includes such major languages as Spanish, French,and Italian -- the word used when saying someone “earns” money, is “ganar” in Spanish, “gagner” inFrench. The word literally means “to win.” In Hebrew the word “marveach” means “profits.” InGerman, the word “verdient” means “deserves.”Obviously, it is very different to “win” or to “deserve” or to “profit” than to “earn.”Since the 1960s-‘70s, a concerted effort has been made to weed the word, and therefore the culturalvalue, of “earning” from American life. Increasingly little is earned. Instead of earning, we areincreasingly owed, or we have more rights, or we are simply given.
Many American kids no longer earn awards or trophies for athletic success. They are given trophiesand awards for showing up. These trophies are not earned, just granted -- essentially for breathing.Another increasingly widespread concept that undermines the notion of earning is “unconditionallove.” The term, which was barely used prior to the 1960s, is now ubiquitous. It is a prominent goal, ahuman ideal to strive for. The idea of having to earn love is more than unheard of today; it would strikemost moderns as morally suspect.We expect unconditional love not only from parents to babies and toddlers, but to children of any age,no matter how they act. Parental unconditional love means that all people, no matter how disgracefullythey act --- even toward a parent -- and no matter how old they are, must be shown infinite love fromtheir parents. Parental love is never to be earned, always to be given.We expect God to show unconditional love to all people, again no matter how they act. According tothe doctrine of divine unconditional love, God loves sadists as much as He loves the kindestindividuals. No one earns God’s love; we receive it, like sports trophies, for breathing. Many finepeople believe this about God, but I think it is religio-cultural-specific, and non-biblical. In 15 years ofstudy in a yeshiva I had never heard the phrase, and it would have struck me, as it still does, as quiteodd. It depicts God as a love machine who, like an air-conditioner that emits the same amount of coldair no matter how the inhabitants of a house act, emits the same amount of love no matter we act. Itmeans that we in no way influence God’s love for us. I don’t find that comforting. And it is certainly nomore likely to induce decent behavior in human beings than a God who does show conditional lovebased on human decency.We expect unconditional love -- meaning unearned love -- from spouses. No matter how awfully youtreat your wife or husband, as soon as you were married, you were owed unconditional love. Whileyour spouse and you had to earn each other’s love prior to marriage, the moment you got married, youno longer had to earn the other’s love.We also expect forgiveness to be given without being earned. Many people believe in what I callautomatic forgiveness -- the obligation to forgive anyone any crime, committed against anyone, nomatter how many victims and no matter how removed from my life. Thus the pastor of a churchattended by then-President Bill Clinton told the president and all others at a Sunday service that allChristians were obligated to forgive Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist murderer of 168 people. DidMcVeigh earn this forgiveness? Of course not. So where did the notion of unearned forgiveness comefrom, especially unearned forgiveness from people who were not the victims of the evil being forgiven?It is one thing for me to forgive those who have hurt me; it is quite another for others to forgive thosewho have hurt me. God Himself demands that we earn forgiveness. The term for that is repentance. Norepentance, no forgiveness.Finally, the increasingly powerful culture of entitlement and rights further undermines the value ofearning anything. The more the state gives to its citizens, the less they have to earn. That is the basicconcept of the welfare state -- you receive almost everything you need without having to earn any of it.About half of Americans now pay no federal income tax -- but they receive all government benefits justas if they had paid for, i.e., earned, them.America became a great civilization thanks to a culture based on the value of having to earn almosteverything an American got in life. As it abandons this value, it will become a mediocre civilization.
And eventually it will not be America. It will be a large Sweden, and just as influential as the smallerone.Time for Congressional Black Caucus to Disband?Dennis PragerTuesday, April 14, 2009Last week, seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus – Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., MelvinWatt, D-N.C., Michael Honda, D-Calif., Laura Richardson,, D-Calif., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., MarciaFudge, D-Ohio, and Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo. -- returned from a visit to Cuba where they met withthe dictators of Cuba, Fidel and Raul Castro.They were quite impressed with Fidel Castro, the longest reigning dictator in the world, the man whodeprived an entire generation of Cubans of the most fundamental human rights. Some of theirreactions:CBC Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee: “Former President Fidel Castro is very engaging, very energetic.”Rep. Laura Richardson: “He looked right into my eyes and said, How can we help you? How can wehelp President Obama?’”Rep. Bobby Rush: “I think that what really surprised me, but also endeared me to him was his keensense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities.”“He drank water, we drank water, nothing else was served, but that was just fine! I was, after all, in thepresence of history.”“In my household, I told Castro, he is known as the ultimate survivor.”Regarding this last comment, columnist Mona Charen pithily noted: “Funny how easy it is to survivewhen you dont hold elections.”Charen is a conservative, but when even major liberal editorial pages hold you in contempt, youre introuble.The Miami Herald labeled the seven members of the CBC who went to Cuba, “The Clueless Seven”The Herald’s scathing editorial continued: “If only the group had met with even one prisoner ofconscience or one of the wives, mothers, daughters or sisters of the 75 independent journalists,librarians and human-rights advocates imprisoned in Cubas ‘Black Spring’ of 2003. … Or the sevencould have traveled three hours from Havana to see the hunger-striking dissidents led by Jorge LuisGarcia ‘Antunez’ Perez in Placetas. Or they could have asked to see Oscar Elias Biscet, a doctor
serving 25 years in prison for following the peaceful resistance of Martin Luther King Jr. … Or what ofthe mothers of three young men who were tried in a day and killed the next by firing squad in 2003 fortrying to hijack a ferry from Havana Harbor? No passenger was hurt, but that didnt stop the Cubangovernment from sending a swift and terrifying message to the countrys Afro-Cuban masses.”And as the Washington Post, another major liberal newspaper, editorialized: (Rep. Barbara Lee saidthat) “‘Cubans do want dialogue. They do want talks.’ Funny, then, that in five days on the island theCongress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez. …Mr. Garcia, better known as ‘Antunez,’ is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often beensingled out for harsh treatment because of his color. ‘The authorities in my country,’ he has said, ‘havenever tolerated that a black person (could dare to) oppose the regime.’ His wife, Iris, is a founder of theRosa Parks Womens Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try toemulate. The couple have been on a hunger strike since Feb. 17, to demand justice for an imprisonedfamily member.”Apparently, it is black Americans that the CBC cares about, not black Cubans. And the CBC calls itself“the conscience of the Congress since 1971”!Before the CBC further embarrasses the civil rights movement, black America, the Democratic Party,and the United States of America, it should consider disbanding.There was never a good reason for any members of Congress to create a group whose sole criterion formembership was race (or ethnicity in the case of the Congessional Hispanic Caucus). The CBC is socolor-based that even congressmen representing majority-black districts who are not themselves black(such as Rep. Stephen Cohen, D-Tenn.), who applied for membership) are not allowed to be members.Such a group, if it existed anywhere else in America, would properly be declared racist and would beeither legally or morally forced to shut down.But this trip to a communist dictatorship where they ignored the oppression of black and other Cubansand served as useful fools for a tyranny ought to be the last straw.America Has a Naive PresidentDennis PragerTuesday, April 07, 2009“The basic bargain is sound: countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countrieswithout nuclear weapons will not acquire them.” -- President Barack Obama, Prague, April 6, 2009As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the President of the United States wants America to disarm:“Countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament.”
It is hard to imagine a more destructive goal. A nuclear disarmed America would lead to massive andwidespread killing, more genocide, and very possibly the nuclear holocaust worldwide nucleardisarmament is meant to prevent.There is nothing moral, let alone realistic, about this goal.Here is an analogy. Imagine that the mayor of a large American city announced that it was his goal tohave all the citizens of his city disarm -- what could be more beautiful than a city with no weapons?This would, of course, ultimately include the police, but with properly signed agreements, vigorouslyenforced, and violators of the agreement punished, it would remain an ideal to pursue.One has to assume that most people would regard this idea as, at the very least, useless. There would beno way to ensure that bad people would disarm; and if the police disarmed, only bad people wouldhave weapons.The analogy is virtually precise -- but only if you acknowledge that America is the world’s policeman.To idealists of the left, however, the notion of America as the world’s policeman is both arrogant andmisguided. A strengthened “world community” -- as embodied by the United Nations – should be theworld’s policeman.To the rest of us, however, the idea of the United Nations as the world’s policeman is absurd andfrightening. The United Nations has proven itself a moral wasteland that gives genocidal tyrannieshonored positions on human rights commissions. The weaker the U.N. and the stronger America, thegreater the chances of preventing or stopping mass atrocities.On the assumption that the left and the right both seek a world without genocide and tyranny, it is, then,the answer to this question that divides them: Are genocide and tyranny more or less likely if Americais the strongest country on earth, i.e., the country with the greatest and most weapons, nuclear andotherwise?Moreover even if you answer in the negative and think that the world would experience less evil with anuclear disarmed America, the goal of worldwide nuclear disarmament is foolish because it isunattainable. And unattainable goals are a waste of precious time and resources.For one thing, it is inconceivable that every nation would agree to it. Why would India give up itsnuclear weapons? There aren’t a dozen Hindus who believe that Pakistan would give up every one ofits nuclear weapons. And the same presumably holds true for Muslims in Pakistan with regard to Indiadisarming.And what about Israel? Would that country destroy all its nuclear weapons? Of course not. And itwould be foolish to do so. Israel is surrounded by countries that wish not merely to vanquish it, but todestroy it. It regards nuclear weapons as life assurance. And it regards the United Nations (with goodreason) as its enemy, not its protector.As for states like Iran and North Korea, they have already violated agreements regarding nuclearweapons. What would prompt them to do otherwise in a world where America got weaker? UnitedNations sanctions? And why would Russia and China even agree to them?
Finally, there would be no way to prevent rogue scientists from selling materials and know-how toterrorists.The result of this left-wing fantasy of worldwide nuclear disarmament would simply be that those whoillegally acquired or made but one nuclear weapon would be able to blackmail any nation.What any president of the United States should aspire to is: 1). to keep America the strongest countryin the world militarily (as well as economically, but that is not the question on the table); 2) to destroythose individuals and organizations that seek nuclear weapons so as to kill as many innocent people aspossible; and 3) remain the world’s policeman. These aims cannot be achieved if America aims todisarm.President Obama said “I am not naïve” in his talk. That, unfortunately, is as accurate as his statementbefore the joint session of Congress that “I do not believe in bigger government.”New Broadway Play About Hero Who Is … Religious!Dennis PragerTuesday, March 31, 2009The older I get, the less I find evil interesting and the more I find goodness interesting. Contrary toconventional wisdom, it is great goodness, not great evil, that needs to be explained. In fact, given theubiquity of gratuitous cruelty and other expressions of evil -- and the apparent ease with which manyordinary people can be transformed into monsters -- evil may be more explicable than goodness.Given all this, one would therefore assume that there would be many studies of goodness and of goodpeople. Yet, there are probably 100 books, studies, and articles about evil for every book, study, orarticle about goodness. This emanates in large measure from the modern, i.e., post-religious, belief(“faith” would be a better word) that people are born good. Consequently, it is evil that is deemedaberrant and therefore needs to be explained, not good, which is deemed normal and therefore needslittle explanation.Just as studies of goodness are deemed less interesting than studies of evil, portrayals of goodness aredeemed less interesting than portrayals of evil. Again, the ratio is probably at least a 100-to-1.Yet, true stories of goodness, well told, are the greatest stories. While stories of evil have the benefit ofsensationalism and appeal to voyeurism, stories of goodness uplift, inspire, make us cry, give us hope,provide real models to emulate, and ultimately may even make us a little better.One problem, however, is that it is much easier to depict evil in a riveting manner than to so depictgoodness. Stephen Spielberg achieved the latter in Schindler’s List, but that was the exception that
Why is it that when people want to describe particularly evil individuals or regimes, they use the terms"Nazi" or "Fascist" but almost never "Communist?"Given the amount the human suffering Communists have caused - 70 million killed in China, 20-30million in the former Soviet Union, and almost one-third of all Cambodians; the decimation of Tibetanand Chinese culture; totalitarian enslavement of North Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russians; ageneration deprived of human rights in Cuba; and much more -- why is "Communist" so much less aterm of revulsion than "Nazi?"There are Mao Restaurants in major cities in the Western world. Can one imagine Hitler Restaurants?Che Guevara T-shirts are ubiquitous, yet there are no Heinrich Himmler T-shirts.This question is of vital significance. First, without moral clarity, humanity has little chance ofavoiding a dark future. Second, the reasons for this moral imbalance tell us a great deal about ourselvestoday.Here, then, are seven reasons.1. Communists murdered their own people; the Nazis murdered others. Under Mao about 70 millionpeople died - nearly all in peacetime! - virtually all of them Chinese. Likewise, the approximately 30million people that Stalin had killed were nearly all Russians, and those who were not Russian,Ukrainians for example, were members of other Soviet nationalities.The Nazis, on the other hand, killed very few fellow Germans. Their victims were Jews, Slavs andmembers of other "non-Aryan" and "inferior" groups."World opinion" - that vapid amoral concept - deems the murder of members of ones group far lessnoteworthy than the murder of outsiders. That is one reason why blacks killing millions of fellowblacks in the Congo right now elicits no attention from "world opinion." But if an Israeli soldier ischarged with having killed a Gaza woman and two children, it makes the front page of worldnewspapers.2. Communism is based on lovely sounding theories; Nazism is based on heinous sounding theories.Intellectuals, among whom are the people who write history, are seduced by words -- so much so thatdeeds are deemed considerably less significant. Communisms words are far more intellectually andmorally appealing than the moronic and vile racism of Nazism. The monstrous evils of communistshave not been focused on nearly as much as the monstrous deeds of the Nazis. The former have beenregularly dismissed as perversions of a beautiful doctrine (though Christians who committed evil in thename of Christianity are never regarded by these same people as having perverted a beautiful doctrine),whereas Nazi atrocities have been perceived (correctly) as the logical and inevitable results of Naziideology.This seduction by words while ignoring deeds has been a major factor in the ongoing appeal of the leftto intellectuals. How else explain the appeal of a Che Guevara or Fidel Castro to so many left-wingintellectuals, other than that they care more about beautiful words than about vile deeds?3. Germans have thoroughly exposed the evils of Nazism, have taken responsibility for them, andattempted to atone for them. Russians have not done anything similar regarding Lenins or Stalins
Tuesday, March 17, 2009I have met very few parents or grandparents who have not characterized at least one of their offspringas “extremely bright” or even “brilliant” – usually beginning at the age of 2. The emphasis on theimportance of the intellect is greater than ever.That is why people were persuande into having their babies listen to Mozart after it was reported thatlistening to Mozart -- even in utero -- would make babies smarter. As an occasional orchestraconductor, I am delighted when anyone of any age is exposed to classical music. But love of music wasnot an issue here -- the Mozart-for-babies craze was about love of brains, not love of music. Likewise,those who can afford to do so vie with one another to have their children admitted to prestigiouspreschools and elementary schools.This preoccupation with brains and intellectual attainment extends into adulthood. Most Americansupon hearing that someone has attended Harvard University assumes that this person is not onlysmarter than most other people but is actually a more impressive person. That is why, for example,people assume that a Nobel laureate in physics has something particularly intelligent to say about socialpolicy. In fact, there is no reason at all to assume that a Nobel physicist has more insight into healthcare issues or capital punishment than a high school physics teacher, let alone more insight than amoral theologian. But people, especially the highly educated, do think so. That’s why one frequentlysees ads advocating some political position signed by Nobel laureates.Intellectuals, e.g., those with graduate degrees, have among the worst, if not the worst, records on thegreat moral issues of the past century. Intellectuals such as the widely adulated French intellectual JeanPaul Sartre were far more likely than hardhats to admire butchers of humanity like Stalin and Mao. Butthis has had no impact on most people’s adulation of the intellect and intellectuals.So, too, the current economic decline was brought about in large measure by people in the financialsector widely regarded as “brilliant.” Of course, it turns out that many of them were either dummies,amoral, incompetent, or all three.The adulation of the intellect is one reason President George W. Bush was so reviled by the intellectualclass. He didn’t speak like an intellectual (even though he graduated from Yale) and for that reason waswidely dismissed as a dummy (though he is, in fact, very bright). On the other hand, Barack Obamaspeaks like the college professor he was and thereby seduces the adulators of the intellect the momenthe opens his mouth. Yet, it is he, not George W. Bush, who nearly always travels with teleprompters todeliver even the briefest remarks. And compared to George W. Bush on many important issues, histalks are superficial -- as reading, as opposed to hearing, them easily reveals.Take, for example, one of the most complex and compelling moral issues of our time -- embryonicstem cell research. This is an excellent area for comparison since both presidents delivered majoraddresses on the exact same subject.Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post has compared the two speeches. He has particularcredibility on this score because he is a scientist (he has a medical degree from Harvard MedicalSchool), a moralist, and has special interest in stem cell’s possibilities because he is a paraplegic from adiving accident. And, as he points out, “I am not religious. I do not believe that personhood is conferredupon conception.”
Krauthammer’s verdict?“Bushs nationally televised stem cell speech was the most morally serious address on medical ethicsever given by an American president. It was so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his viewand the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would comeout.”“Obamas address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discoursesalways are, with a forest of straw men.”“Unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying toachieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible andothers not.”In a similar manner, I devoted two columns to analyzing Barack Obama’s widely hailed speech inBerlin when he was a candidate for president. I found it to be both vacuous and, to use Krauthammer’swords, “morally unserious in the extreme.”But Obama sounds intelligent. As indeed he is.The reason we have too few solutions to the problems that confront people -- in their personal lives aswell as in the political realm -- is almost entirely due to a lack of common sense, psychologicalimpediments to clear thinking, a perverse value system, to a lack of self-control, or all four. It is almostnever due to a lack of brainpower. On the contrary, the smartest and the best educated frequently makethings worse.Some Silver Linings in Our Dark EconomyDennis PragerTuesday, March 10, 2009There are two definitions for the term “optimist”: One who believes the future is good and one whosees the good in any given situation.I am as little an optimist by the first definition as I am a big optimist according to the second. In theworld (as opposed to my own life), I rarely think things will turn out well because they rarely do. Eviloften triumphs; and even when defeated, the amount of human suffering it causes does not mean thatthe optimists were right. Hitler was vanquished, Stalin’s regime fell, and Mao finally died. But to thehundreds of millions of innocent people who were slaughtered, tortured, and enslaved those happyendings were irrelevant.As regards the second definition of optimism (please see an extended discussion of this in my book“Happiness Is a Serious Problem”), count me in. It is imperative to find, or even manufacture, brightspots in a dark situation.