Should Society Tell 10-Year-Olds, ‘The World Is a Better Place With You in It’?

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times published a photo of what I had reason to believe was an elementary school classroom. I couldn’t help but notice a big, colorful sign in the classroom that read, “The World Is A Better Place With You In It.”

Using an example of it being a fifth-grade classroom, I said to my radio audience that I thought the sign foolish, even stupid.

I consider it a part of the narcissism-inducing trend begun in the 1970s with another foolish idea, the “self-esteem movement,” which was started, it will not come as a shock, in California by a state senator who was, it will not come as a shock, a Democrat. I wrote and said at the time that it would lead to awful consequences.

My reasoning was that self-esteem needs to be earned, that it cannot and should not be given. People walking around with unearned high self-esteem are often a danger to society. This was confirmed by one of the most highly regarded criminologists in the country, professor Roy Baumeister, who has written and who told me on my radio show that murderers possess higher self-esteem than almost any other members of society. This makes perfect sense. You have to think you are better than others to take another person’s life.

So, then, what’s wrong with this message to fifth graders? Isn’t it a positive thing for a 10-year-old to be told that the world is a better place just because he or she is in it?

Apparently not. Given how long such messages have been communicated to young Americans, they should be among the happiest young people in American history. Indeed, they should be among the happiest young people compared to young people living in any other country.

We’ve had 50 years of telling young people how terrific, brilliant and special they are, of giving young people trophies even when they or their teams lose, and, more recently, abolishing valedictorians lest any graduating students think poorly of themselves. Yet all of this showering of esteem has been accompanied by the highest depression and suicide rates among young Americans ever recorded.

Equally awful, all this unmerited praise has produced at least two generations of young and now middle-aged Americans who are indeed special — in their narcissism and in their inability to deal with setbacks. If I’m so great — if the world is lucky to have me — why isn’t life rewarding me? Why is life so difficult?

This is the genesis of the “safe spaces” almost every contemporary American campus provides to college students who find having a speaker on campus with whom they differ so traumatic that they retreat to a “safe space.” There they are provided with hot chocolate, Play-Doh and videos of frolicking kittens so that they can soothe their perceived trauma.

Telling every fifth-grader that the world is a better place because he or she is in it feeds this unearned sense of importance. Not to mention that is rarely true. Their family may feel it’s a better place because they were born, and if a parent wishes to communicate that sentiment, that might be a helpful thing to say on occasion.

However, that raises the question of whether it was a bad thing that few parents, let alone schools, prior to the 1970s said that to their young children. In some cases — such as a child who thinks inordinately poorly of himself — it may occasionally do some good. However, given the increasing number of narcissistic and depressed young Americans over the last half-century, it certainly hasn’t been a good thing for society to constantly communicate such messages.

Allow me to contrast that poster in the elementary school classroom with posters I recall hanging on the walls of my elementary school, a religious Jewish school known as a yeshiva.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Watch your tongue” (gossip is a big no-no in Judaism).

“Who is strong? The one who conquers his urges.”

In other words, traditional religious education revolved around making children better people — precisely so that one day the world will be a better place for our having been in it.

Even traditional American public schools — up until the mid-20th century — emphasized self-control, not self-esteem. And Christian schools always emphasized humility — virtually the opposite of unearned self-esteem.

My criticism of the “The World Is A Better Place With You In It” poster in elementary schools went viral after a left-wing website tweeted a small portion of my talk show’s video. At one point last week, it was actually the highest trending tweet on Twitter.

As in every instance of my being attacked on left-wing sites, either a small, out-of-context portion of what I said was quoted or a headline simply lied about what I said. An example of both was this headline on the left-wing site AlterNet: “‘What a stupid message’: Dennis Prager blasted for suggesting that children are pointless.”

One of the hosts of the left-wing podcast, “The Young Turks,” actually said that my father obviously didn’t love me because I said it was inconceivable that he would have told me when I was in fifth grade that the world is a better place because I was in it.

My view is that my father and his father and his father and his father going back to the beginning of recorded history probably never said that to their 10-year-old children precisely because they loved them enough to want to make them mature adults and not remain children seeking constant — and exaggerated — affirmation.

We call the World War II generation “the greatest generation.” How many members of that generation do you think were told when they were in fifth grade that the world was a better place because they were in it?

I suspect close to none. Their parents and their schools emphasized self-control, not self-esteem.

Which is a major reason they did make the world a better place.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Deuteronomy, the third volume of The Rational Bible, his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, will be published in October. His latest books, published by Regnery. He is the co-founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Sep 19, 2022 18:28:10 -0700

Nice People Do a Lot of Damage

It can be said that gaining wisdom is a process of gaining some dark insights into life.

One such insight is this: A lot of evil has been abetted by nice people.

By “nice,” I am referring to the way people comport themselves in the personal realm. We refer to people as being “nice” if they are friendly to strangers, more or less honest in their dealings with others, take care of their families, support friends and are pleasant to be around. We all want nice neighbors.

To put it another way, “nice” generally refers to the micro, the personal, realm. It does not generally refer to the macro realm — that is, to the views and values people hold about moral and social questions.

The human being is composed of two moral components — the micro and the macro. In a truly good human being — “good” is not the same as “nice” — one is good in both realms. It is therefore quite possible to be nice in the micro and hold awful values for society; and it is quite possible to have excellent macro values and not be a particularly nice person.

Take communism, for example.

Communist regimes killed some 100 million people in the 20th century — none of them combatants in war. Add to that number more than a billion devastated lives: the friends and family of the murdered, the generations deprived of elementary human rights and the countless number of innocent people imprisoned and tortured, and you have as pure an evil as is imaginable.

You might therefore think that no one who supported communism, let alone was a member of a communist party anywhere in the world, was a nice person. But you would be wrong. There were many nice people who supported communism. There were even nice people among the Westerners who provided Josef Stalin with the secrets to making an atom bomb.

The only competitor with communism for pure evil was, of course, Nazism. While the communists murdered far more people, the Nazis’ systematic industrial murder of almost every Jewish man, woman and child in Europe remains the most horrific crime ever committed by a nation.

One would therefore assume, especially given the absence of moral rhetoric that characterized communist rhetoric, that there could hardly have been any nice supporters of Nazism.

But you would be wrong again. There were nice Germans who voted for Hitler and the Nazis in 1932, the last free election in Germany until after World War II. Historians are in general agreement that Germans who voted for the Nazis did so primarily for economic reasons, not because they were Jew-haters, let alone sought the murder of all of Europe’s Jews. In any event, the plans to exterminate European Jewry were not even drawn up for almost another 10 years.

So, yes, there were even nice Nazis. There is a well-known example of one — Oskar Schindler. A German industrialist who was a member of the Nazi Party, Schindler personally saved about 1,200 Jews — Jewish workers in his factories in Nazi-occupied Poland, Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the famous Steven Spielberg film, “Schindler’s List.”

Obviously, no communist or Nazi who participated in communist or Nazi evils was nice; each was despicable. And so were many, though not all, supporters of communism and the Nazi Party. But “nice” did not preclude abetting pure evil.

This was also true of supporters of slavery and even some slaveholders. As with communism and Nazism, there were some nice people who supported slavery and even some who owned slaves. Like communism and Nazism, the institution of slavery was evil, but not every supporter of slavery or slave owner was personally vicious. George Washington owned slaves, and he was not merely a nice man, he was a great man.

Moreover, unlike communist and Nazi evil, which were unique in history, slavery was universal and practiced throughout history. It took thousands of years for much of humanity to recognize just how evil slavery was. And people must always be judged in the context of the time and place they lived.

The reason this issue of nice people doing harm has become important to me is that I have been trying to explain how it is that millions of nice Americans support left-wing policies that are ruining, perhaps even destroying, America.

Specifically, why do millions of nice liberals support the Left? Leftism and liberalism have virtually nothing in common. Do liberals believe in all-black college dormitories; that America is a systemically racist country founded not in 1776, but in 1619; that Israel is the villain in the Middle East; that capitalism, the only economic system to lift billions of people out of poverty, should be replaced by socialism, whose moral record is horrific; that little children should be taught that “boys” and “girls” are subjective categories and that “nonbinary” is normal; or that defunding police reduces violent crime?

No, they don’t. Yet millions of nice liberals support those who believe those nihilistic, anti-American, anti-human ideas.

Many on the Left are neither nice nor good. But America is being destroyed by vile doctrines supported by a lot of nice people.


After saying these things about nice people who support evil on my radio show, the Left declared that I think slave owners were nice people and that I support slavery.

One of the most popular left-wing podcasts, “The Young Turks,” spoke about me above the chyron: “Pro-Slavery Prager: Religious radio host argues slave owners were nice people.”

And the left-wing English publication, The Independent, headlined, “Far-right radio host Dennis Prager sparks outrage by saying there were ‘undoubtedly many nice slaveholders.'”

Intellectual honesty and morally sophisticated thought are not hallmarks of the Left.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest books, published by Regnery, are “The Rational Passover Haggadah” (March 2022) and “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis (May 2019). His film, “No Safe Spaces,” was released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Sep 12, 2022 18:26:15 -0700

Unserious Leadership in A Serious Time

Attention readers: Dennis Prager is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by Ben Shapiro.

We live in a deeply serious time with deeply unserious leaders.

Historian Niall Ferguson has written that the “extreme violence of the twentieth century” was precipitated by three preconditions: “ethnic conflict, economic volatility, and empires in decline.” It is difficult not to see such preconditions repeating themselves in this century. The West is currently tearing itself apart over concerns about birthrate, immigration and multiculturalism. Economic volatility is raging: After a decades-long reshifting of manufacturing away from the West and a reorientation toward finance and service, the hollowing out of the Western energy sector in pursuit of utopian environmentalism — all punctuated by the Great Recession, the COVID-19 mini-depression and now sky-high rates of inflation — the global economy sits on a razor’s edge.

And then there is the problem of empires in decline.

We tend to think of our world as empire-free, a world of nation-states. But that’s not really correct. The United States, however hesitant, is a de facto empire, even if not in the colonialist mold of the British Empire; the European Union would, in any other context, be considered a continental empire; Russia has always considered itself an imperial power, and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine represents merely the latest iteration of this claim; China has an empire of its own, not merely a nation-state — as author Ai Weiwei recently wrote, “the people who live in China or come from it are a jumble of more than 50 ethnic and linguistic groups.”

The Russian empire is far past decline; it is an economic backwater armed with antiquated military systems, in grave demographic trouble. But China is the area of highest risk today. The Chinese economy underwent tremendous economic growth over the course of the last two decades, but that growth now appears to be stalling out: state-run mercantilism is not self-sustaining, and as China scholar Michael Pettis recently wrote, “China’s excessive reliance on surging debt in recent years has made the country’s growth model unsustainable… (it is likely) that the country will face a very long, Japan-style period of low growth.” China’s demographics are entirely upside-down; its population is expected to reduce by nearly 50% by 2100. And President Xi Jinping is about to declare himself dictator for life.

In all of this, China strongly resembles Nazi Germany on the precipice of territorial aggression against its neighbors. Nazi Germany saw tremendous GDP growth, rooted largely in debt, state-sponsored mercantilism and military spending; Germany’s fertility rate dropped from above 4 children per woman in 1910 to well below 2 by 1935. Nazi Germany’s underpinnings were fragile; Hitler saw his window closing. Military aggression was therefore not unpredictable.

So, what would China’s next logical step be? Its eyes are fixed on Taiwan. Given China’s historic lust for Taiwan and Taiwan’s domination of the all-important production of sophisticated semiconductors, a Chinese invasion of the island would be not at all unpredictable.

Which brings us back to the deeply unserious leadership of the West.

Faced with the prospect of ethnic tensions, economic volatility and the internal instability of China, the West is opting for weakness. Economic growth is the prerequisite for military power; moral strength is the prerequisite for internal cohesion. The West has decided, over the course of years, to abandon its commitment to economic strength, instead fighting a losing war with the climate and promising endless giveaways from the unfunded welfare state; simultaneously, the West has fallen into the self-doubt of dying civilizations, pitting its citizens against each other, labeling them “semi-fascists” and “threats to democracy.” We lie somewhere between the moral collapse of Rudyard Kipling’s “Recessional” (1897) and Philip Larkin’s “Homage to a Government” (1969). This doesn’t mean that the West is on the verge of collapse; China is far more vulnerable than we are. But it does spell a future of chaos and difficulty — the kind of chaos and difficulty only strength, economic and military and moral, can successfully keep at bay.

Ben Shapiro, 38, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and Editor-in-Chief of He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is “The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


Last Updated: Tuesday, Sep 06, 2022 21:43:22 -0700

Women Are Disproportionately Hurting Our Country

When I was in college, I read a book by George Gilder, one of the wisest thinkers of the last half-century, titled “Naked Nomads,” which had a deep impact on me. It was about single men and all the pathologies associated with them. For example, Gilder drove home the point that the biggest factor concerning violent crime was that it is overwhelmingly committed by single men.

While there was no danger — I would say no chance — that I would commit a violent crime (though I was, at the time, single), this fact along with others in the book made me a lifelong advocate of marriage.

I also came to realize that raising good men was the most important thing society could do. If it doesn’t, the male propensity to physical aggression and predatory sexual behavior will wreak havoc. Therefore, raising boys to control their natures is fundamental to society avoiding chaos.

Over the course of a lifetime, however, I have come to realize that while society was right about males, it was wrong about females. Whether spoken or unspoken, most people thought that girls just didn’t need to be raised to control their natures nearly as much as boys did.

But they do.

It’s true that females are not inclined to violence or predatory sexual behavior as men are. But this hardly means that girls and women don’t have to learn to control their natures. On the contrary, as I have been telling parents for many years now, they need to teach their daughters to control their natures just as much as they teach their sons to do so.

Specifically, girls have to learn to control their emotions.

Just as the male sexual drive and violent impulses can overwhelm their conscience and their ability to think and act rationally, emotions can do the same thing in girls and women: overwhelm their conscience and their ability to think and act rationally.

However, it should be obvious that at least two generations of parents — especially among the well-educated — did not teach many of their daughters to control their emotions and think rationally.

The result is that women are disproportionately active in doing damage to our society.

The most obvious example is education. American schools teach less and indoctrinate more than ever before. Big-city public (and most private) schools are damaging young Americans to an extent and in ways no one imagined just a few years ago. Young children are prematurely sexualized — they are, for example, exposed to “Drag Queen Story Hour” in class and in local libraries from the age of 5. These feature a man dressed as a woman reading and dancing for them.

And who is facilitating all of this? In virtually every case, a woman. Ninety-two percent of kindergarten teachers are women, 75% of all teachers are women and 85% of librarians are women.

And they are teaching young people to despise their country (the creator of the poisonous “1619 Project” is a woman), to feel guilty about their “white privilege” or to think of themselves as victims if they are black. Even worse, they are indoctrinating them in “nonbinary” thinking regarding sex and gender.

As City Journal reports, “Los Angeles Unified School District has adopted a radical gender-theory curriculum encouraging teachers to work toward the ‘breakdown of the gender binary,’ to experiment with gender pronouns such as ‘they,’ ‘ze,’ and ‘tree,’ and to adopt ‘trans-affirming’ programming to make their classrooms ‘queer all school year.'”

The same is happening in school districts around the country.

These ideas originated in university gender studies and women’s studies departments, nearly all of whose professors are female.

Teachers and their unions did great damage to young people during COVID-19. They demanded — because of their hypochondria and an apparent inability to apply reason to COVID-19 risk — that schools be closed for nearly two years. Teachers unions in big cities threatened to go on strike if schools opened. In general, teachers unions are just radical arms of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. They are overwhelmingly composed of women members and women leaders. The head of the National Education Association is a woman, as are the heads of the Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City teachers unions.

Women physicians and health care workers are at the vanguard of ruining young people’s lives at children’s hospitals that push giving young people puberty-blocking hormones and opposite-gender hormones, performing hysterectomies and mastectomies on healthy girls who say they are boys, and chemically or physically castrating healthy boys who say they are girls.

Women are at the vanguard of perverting the medical profession by advocating the teaching of woke ideologies in medical schools, placing these ideologies on an equal footing with medical education.

Last week an organization called Physicians for Reproductive Health published an open letter to the nation’s reporters and news editors, demanding they censor anti-abortion activists: “We are asking for a commitment from the community of media outlets reporting on abortion to keep in mind the true danger that you present when interviewing anti-abortion extremists. You are giving the opportunity for dangerous lies to spread.”

As regards the demand that news outlets censor pro-life individuals and groups, the open letter was signed by more than 600 medical doctors and other health care professionals. Nearly every signatory was a woman. And all four of the listed leaders of Physicians for Reproductive Health are women.

Women clergy have been at the vanguard of pushing Christianity and Judaism to the left, leaving mainstream churches and synagogues increasingly empty. Of course, the increasingly feminized male clergy go along with their female colleagues.

And women are disproportionately supportive of cancel culture, the greatest threat to free speech in American history.

It should go without saying, but it’s undoubtedly necessary to note that there are many women doing great, even heroic, things for our society, and that many men are working to wreck it. But for those who associate women with instinctively protecting children or with being supportive of a traditionally religious life, this era in American history has provided something of a shock.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest books, published by Regnery, are “The Rational Passover Haggadah” (March 2022) and “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis (May 2019). His film, “No Safe Spaces,” was released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


Last Updated: Monday, Aug 29, 2022 20:51:41 -0700

Mar-a-Lago ‘Raid’: Two-Tiered Justice?

Attention readers: Dennis Prager is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by Larry Elder.

Attorney General Merrick Garland justified the unprecedented FBI raid of the residence of a former president by saying: “The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”

With the approval of former President Donald Trump and after a request by the Department of Justice, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the warrant, publicly released it, as well as the inventory of items removed. According to The Wall Street Journal, the FBI “removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked as top secret … and … took around 20 boxes of items, binders of photos, a handwritten note and the executive grant of clemency for Mr. Trump’s ally Roger Stone.”

The crimes the DOJ asserts include evidence of probable cause that Trump violated the part of the Espionage Act pertaining to classified information; removal of government records; and the destruction of records. Generally, disputes between a departing president as to what documents and materials can be removed and what should be returned are worked out between the president and the relevant government entities.

The problem is the appearance of a two-tiered system of justice, one pertaining to Trump and the other pertaining to laws or subpoenas allegedly violated by top Democratic officials like then-President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to comply with a congressional subpoena and became the only sitting AG to be found in criminal contempt of Congress; IRS official Lois Lerner, accused of withholding the granting of tax-exempt status to conservative charities and who refused to comply with a congressional subpoena; the treatment of Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who removed and destroyed documents from the National Archives in 2003; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her alleged violation of the Espionage Act.

Take Clinton’s alleged violation of the Espionage Act because of the private server she installed in the basement of her home, a server on which she sent and received classified information. About Clinton and her staff, then-FBI head James Comey said, “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” But he concluded that Clinton was not engaged in “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.”

But does the relevant part of the Espionage Act require “intent”?

Political columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote: “This is baffling. Under the statute (18 U.S.C. section 793(f)), it’s a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or ‘through gross negligence.’ The evidence, as outlined by Comey, is overwhelming.”

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy wrote: “The question is whether she knew classified info would end up on the server, and her set-up made that inevitable. … Clinton could’ve been prosecuted either for willfully mishandling classified info or for doing so through gross negligence.”

Peter van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, wrote: “While Comey maintains there was no intent or gross negligence by Clinton to violate the law, it is difficult to reconcile her actions and his statement. … The standards applied in the Clinton case are at variance with how classified information violations elsewhere in the government are handled.”

Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz wrote: “Berger was administratively fined, and Mrs. Clinton was rebuked by James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which might have cost her the 2016 election. But neither was subjected to broad search warrants or criminal prosecution.”

There is much we still don’t know about the underlying affidavit for the warrant and whether Trump broke laws in removing material from the White House. But given the treatment of top Democratic officials versus the treatment of Trump, did the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago meet what Garland called the “standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative a search”?

At the very least, the optics look bad, really bad.

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



Last Updated: Monday, Aug 22, 2022 22:50:55 -0700