"Balance": Dennis Prager Wrong About Left And Right

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Is there a more self-important columnist than right-wing radio host Dennis Prager? (OK, I'll give you George Will.) Reading a typical Prager column, two things are immediately clear: He's very impressed with what he thinks are his deep ruminations on serious topics, and his thinking has all the depth and clarity of a mud puddle.

A quick glance at recent Prager headlines ("What Do Women Want?," "Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals," "For The Left, Opponents Cannot Have Decent Motives: The Ground Zero Example," "The Left Hates Conservatives" … and so on) establishes his fondness for sweeping generalities about huge groups of people, and his latest is no exception: "For the Left, There Are No Sacred Texts."

Prager begins:

[F]or leftism -- though not necessarily for every individual who considers himself a leftist -- there are no sacred texts. The two major examples are the Constitution and the Bible.

One cannot understand the left without understanding this. The demotion of the sacred in general and of sacred texts specifically is at the center of leftist thinking.

Prager doesn't bother to address the fact that the vast majority of liberals are people of faith (only four percent of Americans identify as either atheist or agnostic.) Instead, he just breezes past that inconvenient truth:

The reason is that elevating any standard, any religion, any text to the level of the sacred means that that it is above any individual. Therefore, what any one individual or even society believes is of secondary importance to that which is deemed sacred. If, to cite the most obvious example, the Bible is sacred, then I have to revere it more than I revere my own feelings in assessing what is right and wrong.

But for the left, what is right and wrong is determined by every individual's feelings, not by anything above the individual.

I'm sure this seemed smart to Prager as he was writing it, but it's extraordinarily dumb. Look: If "the left" really thought that it is up to each individual to choose according to his "own feelings" what is right and wrong, and that no text can outweigh those feelings, "the left" wouldn't support laws against murder. But "the left" does. So Prager's just spewing nonsense.

He goes on to spend a few paragraphs purporting to explain why the left is "so opposed to Judeo-Christian religion," ignoring as he does so all those liberal Jews and Christians who falsify his thesis by their very existence. But the emptiness of Prager's argument really becomes apparent when he gets around to comparing liberals and conservatives:

This explains the belief that is universally held on the left that the Constitution is an "evolving text," meaning that it says what anyone (on the left) wants it to say.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not share this view. They do not believe the Constitution has something to say about everything they believe in. While the left sees the right to abortion in the Constitution (because the left believes in the right to abortion), those who oppose abortion do not believe that the Constitution prohibits abortion. They believe that the Constitution is silent on the issue. Precisely because the right does believe the Constitution is to be treated as sacred, it does not claim that whatever it supports is in the Constitution or that whatever it opposes is unconstitutional.

At this point, I can only assume that Prager has simply constructed his own versions of both "the left" and "conservatives" -- versions that exist only in his head, and that bear no resemblance to real-world liberals and conservatives. How else to explain his bizarre belief that "those who oppose abortion do not believe that the Constitution prohibits abortion"? Anyone in Prager's position has surely encountered many abortion opponents who believe precisely that.

And even if he has somehow never encountered such an argument, a simple Google search for the phrases "pro-life" and "constitution" would have quickly yielded examples. The very first hit, for example, is a column on Alan Keyes' Renew America web site titled "The Constitution is a pro-life document" that argues that "unborn children" are protected under the fourteenth amendment and, thus, "Not only is abortion constitutionally illegal it is a great sin in God's sight."

That is not an uncommon argument among Prager's fellow conservatives. The fact that he is unaware of even his own side's arguments does even more to demonstrate his political illiteracy than all his inane rambling about "the left."

Dennis Prager
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