So in listening to a recent Dennis Prager show on his podcast, I was struck by the opportunity Dennis had to make it clear to his listeners how morally confused many people are despite (or because of) their great intentions or great education.
On the podcast I play the actual snippet, but since doing this podcast Dennis Prager used this exact same call for his own article this week:
Below is the abridged transcript from the show and his article cited above:
JEFF: I wanted to respond to your question about America being feared in the world. You brought up Syria. I think it’s a little naive, and maybe that’s not even the right word, to boil down such complex international issues into just good and bad. Like to say that America, for you, represents good. And to just boil down the Syria situation into good and bad is to underestimate the complexity of the situation. Because if the United States were to get involved there, you know, there might be consequences for us in that region that I think would be definitely more bad than good.
DP: Like what?
JEFF: If we were to depose Assad, there could be a power vacuum and that could create more problems than we intended.
DP: There are two separate questions here. One is: Should the United States be feared by bad regimes? The other is: What should the United States do? They’re not identical. So let’s deal with the first: Would you acknowledge that it would be good if countries like Putin’s Russia, Iran or North Korea — though I don’t compare Putin to North Korea — feared us? And do you think they do?
JEFF: I think that’s a really good question. If I had the answer to that I think I’d be secretary of state.
DP: It’s not that tough a question. What we should do is a tough question. But whether America should be feared by bad regimes is not a tough question.
Let me just throw in a tangential comment that I think is important: I presume you went to college.
JEFF: Oh, yeah.
DP: The reason I presume that you went to college is that you were taught — and this is no knock on you whatsoever since anyone who takes liberal arts courses, in political science in particular, is taught — what you just told me: You can’t divide between good and bad, because it’s too complex.
But that’s not accurate. There is a good and bad. Yes, sometimes there is bad and worse — in Syria today, for example. But between Syria and the United States the difference is between bad and good. Would you agree that it’s between bad and good between Syria and the United States?
JEFF: As an American, absolutely.
DP: Wait a minute. That’s a terrible answer. I don’t want you to answer me as an American. I want you to answer me as a moral human.
JEFF: I can only answer you as an American. I can’t answer you as anyone else.
DP: That’s not true. If I asked you how much two and two is, you wouldn’t answer me as an American.
JEFF: Here’s my only comment, I would just, you know, hesitate to boil down international issues of such complexity, with multiple variables, to, “It’s simply good or bad.” And that’s my only comment.
DP: Thank you for calling.
The way Dennis handles this call is an outstanding example of how he exercises his philosophy of “preferring clarity over agreement.” He was not going to sway this caller (and I doubt that is his typical intention, rather I presume his objective is to sway the minds of the listening audience.) But what he does do is help get clarity about how he and his dissenting callers truly differ.
So what do you think? This one call brings up several major issues.
- Can we make moral judgements? Are there better and worse people – ethically? Can we morally judge leadership of countries?
- Are there good ideas and evil ideas? Do these ideas shape the culture of a nation into one that acts good and/or evil? So therefore, can we say some cultures are better or worse than others?
- Or is it too complicated to judge the righteousness of a nation or culture? In other words… Since cultures are complex can we never deduce that one culture is morally superior to any another?
- If we can clearly conclude better or worse in terms of cultures or leadership moralities into “Good and Evil”.. Should the Good battle the Evil? Or should everyone tolerate one another – to each there own… which is not logically possible considering the nature of evil.
- Assuming America is a force for good, should America be feared by evil regimes? In other words… Is it good for America and/or the rest of the world that other nations (particularly those whose regimes explicitly state their desire to end America and Americanism) have a genuine fear of American intervention in their affairs (whether it be through military, financial, or other actions)? Is the world a better place when America and nations like America are feared?
All of these questions hinge on the first one: Can we make moral judgements?
Another interesting thing for me is how correct Dennis is in assuming that this caller went to college. I routinely heard this “complexity” mantra when I was in college. Sadly, many parents send their kids to college to learn skills for a profession, but unless there kids go into the sciences – their education is centered on how to “think” like Leftists. This young caller may or may not think of himself as being on the Left, regardless his mind is thinking like a Leftist. I have also seen this in many Libertarians, who think they are centrists or even on the right, but the fact is that regarding foreign affairs their values are identical with the Left’s.
While I don’t want this to be a political topic, politics is part of the topic.
Some major topics and issues are wrapped up with politics. This is one.
But lets just take morality out of the equation briefly and speak to something that people may feel more comfortable with: economics and freedom. Do you think any one economic system is better or worse than another? Do you think a free economy is better or worse than a state dictated economy?
The hard truth that people don’t like to confront is that if a free market economy is not fought for, it will not remain a free market. What will it become? It will become a State run economy of one sort or another. So in other words, if capitalism (free market economy) is not fought for, then the economy will naturally fall into a State run program such as socialism or communism. Neither socialism nor communism have done good for their people historically (Maoist China, Lenin’s and Stalin’s Russia, as well as the current collapse of Europe and the horrific North Korea.) Capitalism on the other hand has done tremendous good, despite its reputation. Ironically many of the woes it has suffered have been due to the State trying to “fix” the economy, rather than letting markets work it out on their own.
In an ironic twist, State run economics has become the beloved mascot of the University while “Capitalism” has become a dirty word (hence why I often use “free market economy” so as not to turn off listeners ears.) That is to say; The Left’s dominant influence in the universities has effectively demonized “capitalism”, arguably one of the strongest forces for goodness in our world. Nary a word is mentioned of the atrocities and horrors directly caused by communism (Mao’s China, Stalin Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, etc.)
Capitalism has enabled industry, technology, medicine, literacy, energy, and nearly every other facet of human advancement to move at the most rapid pace and on the broadest of scales ever in human history. Judge a free market economy (such as the U.S.) verses any other economy in history and they all pale in comparison. Judge economies by the fruit that it bears. America’s “poor” have higher living standards than many of the “middle class” in many parts of western Europe (A remarkable amount of people who are deemed “poor” have relatively large homes, air conditioning, tv, cable, smart phones, computers or game consoles, cars, etc.) Compared to much of Asia or Africa – America’s poor are living “the American dream” by their standards. A poor Indian views poverty in America as a blessing (as I have learned from Dinesh D’souza.)
Because of the idea that is America, we have witnessed the greatest prosperity and upwardly mobile freedom ever. Many American’s may be “poor” when they are in their 20’s to 30’s. Then they will be middle class from the 30’s to 50’s. And many of them will find themselves among the “rich” from their 50’s onward. That is the gift of America’s economic opportunities and freedom to advance. Unfortunately there are many parts of the world where that is not the case.
It is about what drives the economy. And what drives people to take great risks to come here from their homelands. And what gives parents pride when their children decide to join our heroes in uniform.
It is all about VALUES!
Dennis Prager has articulated this idea best in his book “Still the Best Hope.”
American values (or as Prager calls it Americanism) are the bedrock of our success in all areas. And as the subtitle of Prager’s book states “… the World needs American Values to Triumph.”
What are these American values? Prager refers to them as the American Trinity:
- Liberty – Freedom is the Essence of the American Idea, and it must be constantly fought for.
- In God We Trust – God is the source of liberty, and everyone should feel morally accountable to God. We are to be a religious people with a secular government.
- E Pluribus Unum (From Many – ONE) – Though originally this motto referred to the 13 colonies making One Nation, the motto also has been understood to mean that from the many variegated peoples that comprise America they are united in the idea and one culture that is American.
All three of these values are in a constant losing battle at the university. The universities (and increasingly more and more in public schools) are attacking these values and indoctrinating students into the Left’s ideologies: Political Correctness, Diversity, Multi-Culturalism, Moral Relativism, Secularism, Socialism, and many other forms of radical ideas which are fundamentally opposed to Americanism.
Why and how the Left took over our universities (and education in general – globally) is a subject for another Ultimate Issue. But it is tough to argue against the fact that the Left dominates college faculty and administration – never mind the students. (Source: Washington Post, NY Times, RationalWiki, and of course, you can read Still the Best Hope for more sources.)
But the Left does not only dominate universities, Leftism dominates nearly all non-religious educational systems in the world. Leftism dominates nearly all non-religious media in the world. From entertainment to news, television to newspapers… the Left has organized itself to dominate the airwaves, theaters, and newsstands. Again, the exception would be media produced with religious conservative affiliations as well as much of American talk-radio. That is about it…
And now here is how I see how all of this is connected. Leftism is fundamentally opposed to traditional religion and God.
Leftism is the most dynamic religion in the world. ~ Dennis Prager
Because Leftism is a “religion” and part of the nature of Leftism is totalitarian, then it is completely understandable why it would war against traditional religions and any notion of Ethical Monotheism.
Traditional good religions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, etc.) are typically vehicles used to elevate people above and beyond their animal natures and help make them better and more holy individuals. Ethical Monotheism (like in Judaism and Christianity) holds all people accountable to One God who makes moral demands on them (e.g. do not steal, do not murder, etc.)
Leftism however is a secular religion, and therefore has no room for such beliefs in creating what it holds as an ideal society. All one needs to do is read Marx or about Marxism and this will all become clear.
A god of Leftism is the State. The further left one goes the the bigger the state and control they demand. The bigger the state gets the closer we get to Utopia.
A god of Leftism is Material. Dialectal and historical materialism is a dogmatic belief in Leftist philosophy (the philosophy of how things change, and the background of how society has changed in the past). This is not “materialism” in the sense of love and desire for material things. Rather this is materialism in the sense that only matter is real. So there is no God. There is no holy or sacred. There is no reality beyond this material world.
And this materialistic philosophy made famous by Marx is a huge source for much of the moral confusion we have today. Basically, the idea is that all of human behavior can be summed up by relating it back to complex material relations. That is to say that Marxism holds that people act according to the relationships they have with material reality. Hence, we have the notion that Race, Gender, and Class are the answers to why people do what they do. And it also why VALUES (immaterial and therefore not observable), is never cited as the source for human behavior.
Also, if humanity is comprised of complex relationships between material states of existence then no one can judge another, because you can not possibly understand the complicated struggles that involve his history, class, race, and lifestyle.
Here’s the deal… Whether you like it or not, or agree or not with Marxism or Leftism – the Marxist ideas have spread like an invasive plant introduced to a new environment. All it takes is the introduction of an invasive plant, and it can overtake a well established forest.
Marxism, promoted via Leftism (formerly known as Liberalism, formally known as Progressivism) invades, overtakes, and corrupts the moral culture of a society like America.
If you think “Who am I too judge?” or “We are not to judge other cultures”, it is highly likely you have been indoctrinated into Leftism.
If you think “No nation is any better or worse than any other nation”, the Marxist propaganda has worked.
If you think “There is no such thing as objective morality”, then your moral compass is broken and in need of repair.
Why? Because if you cannot discern between good and evil behavior then you can not possibly help fight evil. Evil, immoral behavior based on the ethical values given to us by God, must be fought – otherwise it grows. In order to fight evil, you must be able to recognize it. And fighting evil is the most important and courageous task a person can tackle. The future will be Leftist, Islamist*, or American. Do you have the moral clarity to decide which is better and which is worse? And why?
The only proven way to achieve this (ending evil) on any large scale is the American value system. These values are proclaimed on every American coin: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum.”
~ Dennis Prager “Still The Best Hope”
* Islamist refers to those who feel the need to fight and conquer the world in order to establish Sharia Law. I am not referring to all 1.3 billion Muslims. I am referring to the self admitted 10% of the 1.3 billion who do desire Muslim world domination and universal Sharia law.