As my radio show listeners across the country have heard innumerable times, a guiding principal of my show is that I prefer clarity to agreement. Instead of trying to out-argue their ideological adversaries, I suggest to my listeners that they should strive for clarity about where they and their opponents differ. This not only prevents shouting, insulting and defensiveness, it helps each side see where they really differ and where, perhaps, they do not. Married couples have told me that this approach has been helpful in marital disputes.
In that vein, I want to thank Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater for writing a piece, published by The Jewish Journal (“Jews Must Stay on Visionary Obama’s Side,” jewishjournal.com, April 19), which states virtually every major left-wing position. I therefore respond not in order to “debate” Rabbi Grater (though if he wished, I would), but to clarify where a Jew who disagrees with the left stands.
I would like to respond to each one of the positions taken by Rabbi Grater, but space in a newspaper column does not allow for that. So, I will respond to some of his points.
Concerning the Bush presidency, Rabbi Grater writes, “Eight years of war, monstrous deficit spending, a breakdown of diplomacy, and a disdain for science and civil liberties welcomed the new president into office.”
This sentence exemplifies two important characteristics of the left that can also be found throughout Rabbi Grater’s column. One is that assertions are made that only fellow leftists believe, and they believe these assertions largely because of antipathy to conservatives, not because there is validating evidence. There was no validating evidence for “monstrous deficit spending,” none for “a breakdown of diplomacy,” none for “a disdain for science and civil liberties.”
Second, and most important, is the left’s tendency to make up a reality and then respond to what they made up as if it were reality. I will provide example after example, based solely on the claims made by Rabbi Grater.
I saw this tendency when I was a graduate student at Columbia University. Liberal professors taught us that men and women were basically the same — a well-known example of the made-up world of the left — and then declared “sexist” anyone who raised boys with trucks and toy soldiers, or who raised girls with tea sets and dolls.
This make-believe world of the left is stronger today than ever. In the first days after Maj. Nidal Hasan’s massacre of fellow soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” much of the left denied that Islam might have played a role in what he did. The Obama administration has even banned the term “radical Islam” from all government discussions of Islamic terrorism. And U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder denied, under repeated questioning, that radical Islam might have played a role in Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to terrorize Manhattan.
It is in this tradition of making up a reality that Rabbi Grater mentions “a breakdown of diplomacy.” The implication — given no explanation of his charge we can only assume implications — is that America was disliked in the Bush years because President Bush did not sufficiently rely on diplomacy. This is part of the left’s make-believe world — that if America talks more, relies more on diplomacy, it will be liked more, and it is very important to people on the left that America be liked.
Conservatives inhabit a different world, one in which America is not hated because it acts more than it talks, but because the haters of America are either intellectual fools or among the world’s most dangerous people. Of course, leftists hate this explanation because they generally blame America for being hated and because they hate making moral judgments of America’s enemies. The left is far more comfortable making moral judgments about George W. Bush, about Arizona and about Israel than about America’s enemies.
Moreover, President Obama’s decision to be more diplomatic than President Bush has yielded nothing positive for America or for the world. North Korea has become more aggressive; Iran has increasing contempt for us as the Obama administration does essentially nothing about Iran’s nuclear arms development and does not even show support for the Iranian movement for democracy; Iran kidnaps and imprisons young American hikers; and Turkey and Brazil, two Third World giants, have just embraced Iran’s tyrant, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Tom Friedman, recently wrote a column on this very subject — that the Brazil and Turkey embrace of Ahmadinejad is a terrible development for America and for the world. A liberal himself, Friedman does not draw the obvious conclusion: President Obama’s reliance on diplomacy and constant apologies to the world for America have been worse than worthless.
“Monstrous deficit spending,” Rabbi Grater writes, referring to the Bush presidency. Every conservative I know believes that President Bush spent too much money. But, if truth mattered more than hating Mr. Bush, the description “monstrous deficit spending” would be attached to President Obama. President Bush’s deficits were small and manageable compared to those of President Obama. His health care bill, his “stimulus” bill (spending nearly a trillion dollars the government does not have) and all his entitlements bills have vastly increased our debt, our deficit and the percentage of GDP the government now controls.
Does Rabbi Grater really believe that Republicans want to spend more of the public’s money than Democrats do? Which party has been in control of the California state legislature as it has brought the most dynamic economy in America, and indeed the world, to the verge of insolvency? Which party has governed Los Angeles and brought this city to the edge of bankruptcy?
Read Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater’s response to this column here.
How does anyone write about too much government spending and blame conservatives more than liberals for it?
Unless one is to posit deliberate dishonesty on the part of individuals who make such an obviously untruthful claim (and I do not make that charge against the rabbi), there is only one other explanation: the make-believe world that the left inhabits.
It is leftist policies that are bankrupting California, just as they are bankrupting most of the major cities of the country, many of the states and helping to end the economic viability of the European Union. But the belief in an ever-expanding state — that controls more and more aspects of society, provides “safety nets” to more and more citizens, and results in more and more economic equality — is so central to the left’s self-definition that to acknowledge the moral and economic bankruptcy, indeed the Ponzi schemes, that constitute welfare states, would be so painful for anyone on the left that doing so would mean leaving the left.
So the left makes up things to fool itself into believing the problem emanates from its opponents’, not its own policies. One day Rabbi Grater and those who agree with him may understand that the left is a god that failed. But as with the idealistic Western leftists who supported Lenin and Stalin, it will be too late. The catastrophes brought on by left-wing policies will have already devoured much the Western world’s economies; destroyed both their military might and their desire to fight evil; and destroyed religion, the thing that gives most people meaning — thereby leaving the world prey to the nihilists of Beijing and Moscow, the America- and Jew-haters in Tehran and other parts of the Middle East, and tyrants of the Third World.
If there were space, I would deal with the other make-believe assertions in the rabbis’ column — such as the left-wing myth that President Bush and other conservatives “disdain science.” For the record, Charles Krauthammer, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, wrote that on the embryonic stem cell research issue, George Bush was far more intellectually serious than Barack Obama.
Nothing about the left has changed since I was a graduate student at Columbia. What I saw among New York liberals continues to this day: They study at liberal institutions under liberal teachers, socialize with fellow liberals, read liberal newspapers and books, and listen to NPR. Almost no liberal I have ever talked to reads National Review or Commentary, regularly listens to people like me on the radio, or reads any of the books by any of the innumerable right-wing intellectuals, such as Tom Sowell, Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, Norman Podhoretz, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn, et al. Not one major university invites a conservative as the speaker at its graduation. Schools show students Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” but not the British documentary shown on British television rebutting the Al Gore film.
On the other hand, virtually every conservative is exposed throughout his life — whether voluntarily or not — to what the left believes.
One more example of this left-wing bubble: Supporters of Rabbi Grater wrote a letter defending their rabbi against dissenting members of their synagogue. They praised Rabbi Grater for his courage. Now I have no reason to doubt that Rabbi Grater may be a great man, a great rabbi, a great father and a great husband. But for the rabbi of almost any Reform temple to write a leftist column or to give a leftist sermon is as courageous as an Orthodox rabbi sermonizing on keeping kosher.
But in the make-believe world of the left, giving a leftist sermon to a largely left-wing congregation is courageous.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author and public speaker. He can be heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) weekdays 9 a.m. to noon. His Web site is dennisprager.com.