Off the Cuff: Post-Debate Thoughts on Trump vs. Biden
Presidential debate #1 is in the books… and wow.
That’s the topic of my Off the Cuff audio commentary this week. You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.
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A Reminder to American Jews: Civilization Is Fragile
Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is meant to be a time of intense self-examination. In light of that, I offer this column.
The question I receive more than any other from non-Jews is: Why are so many Jews on the left?
Before addressing it, I should note that the same question could be asked of Christians and other non-Jews. Why have so many mainstream Protestants and Catholics (up to and including the pope) embraced the left? Why have nearly all blacks, the majority of Hispanics and Asian Americans, the most successful ethnic group in America, embraced the left? And outside of the United States, why have most Germans, French, Canadians, Australians and others in the West embraced the left?
This question could be asked about almost every group in the world.
Nevertheless, it is valid to ask it about Jews because, if any group should be wary of dismantling a society, especially a decent one, it is the Jews. The moment civilization begins to disintegrate, the Jews are the first victims — never the only, but always the first. That’s why Jews have so often been likened to the proverbial canary in the mine. Miners take canaries down with them because when there are noxious fumes, canaries die, and when the miners see the dead canaries, they know there are toxic fumes they must fight, or they, too, will die.
That’s why decent non-Jews who don’t fight anti-Semitism are fools. They don’t understand that anti-Semitism represents a mortal threat to them. Tens of millions of non-Jews were killed because decent non-Jews ignored Hitler early on, dismissing him and Nazism as a Jewish problem.
It is often asked how the most culturally advanced country in Europe, perhaps in the world, could produce Nazism and the Holocaust. Or, as it is often put, “How did the country that gave us Bach, Beethoven, Heine and Schiller give us Auschwitz?”
One answer is that advanced culture and advanced morality are not the same. The Nazis loved classical music.
The other, more important, answer is that civilization is fragile.
It is fragile because civilization consists of human beings, and human nature is profoundly flawed. Exceptional evil is as common as exceptional good. It takes a great deal of effort and a great deal of time to make a decent society. But it takes little effort and little time to destroy a society.
That most American Jews do not appreciate how extraordinarily decent America is — compared with other countries, not compared with some childish utopian vision — only proves the lack of relationship between education and wisdom and between intelligence and wisdom.
The left is tearing down America because the left in America is what the left has been everywhere: a purely destructive force. Conservatives and liberals build everything, and leftists destroy everything: music, art, universities, high schools, elementary schools, economies, late-night comedy (for that matter, all comedy), journalism, sports and, now, the sciences. In addition, everywhere the left gains power it suppresses personal freedom, beginning with the most important freedom, freedom of speech.
Every violent demonstration (also known as “riots”) over the past six months has been a left-wing riot.
Why, then, does this left-wing destruction not frighten America’s Jews? Do they not know the more power the left has, the less freedom they and all other Americans will have? Do they not know how much Black Lives Matter, antifa and the rest of the left loathe Israel? Or do they not care? (The answer is that, increasingly, many American Jews do not care — especially young Jews, who have been raised by left-wing teachers and left-wing media.) How do they not recoil when statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are violently removed?
Do American Jews not know that the unique esteem in which they (and Israel since 1948) have been held in American society has been entirely due to the Judeo-Christian roots of America’s values and its Judeo-Christian identity? Do they not know that in a post-Christian America, they will be just another minority and that, as the left gains influence, nonleft Jews (specifically religious and pro-Israel Jews) will be singled out for opprobrium? (Just look at how Jewish students who publicly identify as Jews, let alone as pro-Israel Jews, are treated on many American campuses.)
We conservatives know the answer to the question, “How did the country that gave the world Beethoven give the world Nazism?”
The answer: Civilization is fragile.
That was true in Germany, and it is true in America.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” will be released to home entertainment nationwide on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.
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Last Updated: Monday, Sep 28, 2020 16:33:52 -0700
Genocide in America — and Other Idiotic Observations
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis a few months ago touched off a cultural revolution in America, one replete with protests in the streets along with more than a little rioting and looting.
The narrow message was that there’s a wave of police brutality washing over the country and it’s got to stop. The bigger message is that it’s not just bad cops who are the problem, but that America in its entirety is the problem. Not that there are racists in America, but that racism is “systemic,” meaning it permeates every facet of American life.
Naomi Osaka, the tennis superstar took to twitter to tell us that, “Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
Genocide? Here in the United States? Really? Perhaps Ms. Osaka doesn’t know the meaning of the word — that it refers to “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.”
But let’s not be too harsh on Ms. Osaka. After all she’s only 22 and spent a good deal of her life hitting a ball with a racquet over a net.
But what should we make of the scholars who keep telling us that “systemic racism” in our country is real and that it can’t be tolerated any longer?
There’s Ted Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania law school who says, “We are again reminded that this country’s 400-year history of racism continues to produce clear and present danger to the bodies and lives of Black people in every part of the United States.”
And there’s Amherst College president Carolyn Martin who says that the “virulent anti-black racism in this country has never NOT been obvious, and yet there are those who continue to deny it,” before making a plea “to white people in particular, to acknowledge the reality of anti-black racism, its long history, and its current force; to recognize how embedded it is in our institutional structures, social systems, and cultural norms; and to assume our responsibility for ending it.”
And there’s UCLA chancellor Gene Block who believes that “racism permeates every sector of our society, from education to employment, from housing to health care, from board rooms to court rooms.”
There are many, many more scholars who say things just like that, but you get the idea. What’s especially noteworthy is that it turns out that liberal elite college campuses are a hotbed of this horrible racism.
Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, for example, says that, “Racism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton … and racist assumptions . . . remain embedded in structures of the University itself.”
At Middlebury College in Vermont, the school’s president, Laurie Patton, tells us that racism “happens in our residence halls and in our classrooms, at the tables of our dining halls and in our locker rooms, on our sidewalks, within the offices where we work, and in our town.”
But as Heather MacDonald writes in the Manhattan Institute’s magazine, City Journal, “All such institutional self-accusations by college presidents leave out the specifics. Which faculty members do not treat black students fairly? If that unjust treatment is so obvious, why weren’t those professors already removed? What is wrong with an admissions process that lets in thousands of student bigots? In other moments, college presidents brag about the quality of their student body and faculty. Are they lying? Shouldn’t they have disclosed to black applicants that they will face ‘racist acts’ and ‘systems of inequality’ should they attend?”
But, despite the lectures we get from scholars, and despite what we hear from athletes like Naomi Osaka, systemic racism isn’t automatically a fact just because they say it is. “Other credible explanations exist for ongoing racial disparities, including family structure, cultural attitudes, and individual behavior. To declare from the highest reaches of the academy that racism is the defining and all-explaining feature of American society is to adopt a political position, not to state a scientific truth,” as Heather MacDonald nicely sums it up.
There is a reason, of course, that we hear so much about the evils of system racism from so many white liberals. It’s because there are no limits to white liberal guilt, a condition that is, well, systemic among those on the left.
Many white liberals see racism everywhere – remember, that’s what “systemic racism” means, that it’s everywhere – because they have a desperate need to show off what the black conservative scholar Shelby Steele calls, their “good racial manners,” to show the world that they’re the “good ones.”
But, as Heather MacDonald, asks, “What if the racism explanation for ongoing disparities is wrong, however? What if racial economic and incarceration gaps cannot close without addressing personal responsibility and family culture—without a sea change in the attitudes that many inner-city black children bring with them to school regarding studying, paying attention in class, and respecting teachers, for example?”
Such a discussion is a dangerous one to have in places like liberal American universities or American newsrooms or chic Manhattan dinner parties. Anyone who dares bring up such inconvenient alternatives to “systemic racism” runs the risk of being called a racist – if he or she is lucky. If they’re not lucky, they’ll simply be cancelled.
And the very real problems plaguing too much of black America will persist. But hey, all those white liberals will feel better – about themselves. And that’s what’s really important.
The Devil and Joe Biden
A front page article in the Wall Street Journal reminded me that a Roman Catholic priest in South Carolina denied Joe Biden communion just about one year ago. Reverend Robert Morey blessed Mr. Biden but refused him the host, later saying the former Vice-President’s liberal position on abortion defies church teaching.
As with many Catholic politicians, Mr. Biden fell back on the rationalization that he could not impose his “private” beliefs on other Americans. But in Biden’s case, that rings very hollow.
For decades then Senator Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, which disallows federal money for the abortion procedure because that violates the religious rights of Catholics and other religious people. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and serious medical danger to the mother.
The Hyde Amendment was fair because pro-choice Americans can easily donate money to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers thereby assuring legal abortions can be made available to all.
There is no need for the federal government to force religious Americans to fund a life-ending procedure they reject on moral grounds.
But the new, progressive Joe Biden now repudiates the Hyde Amendment in a stunning reversal of conscience. He also selected Kamala Harris, an aggressive pro-choice advocate, as his running mate. Some describe the Biden-Harris ticket as the most pro-abortion political duo in history.
The Democratic platform is very clear: there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever. A number of states have rebelled against that using “science” to justify regulations. It is a medical fact that a baby is viable in the womb long before birth. Many legislators believe destroying a fetus after viability is a violation of human rights.
Joe Biden has not responded to that point-of-view and that’s his problem with the Catholic Church. His political posture enables abortion at any time, for any reason. Just this week, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, warned Catholic voters that killing babies is “demonic.”
With almost 70 million Catholics registered to vote, Biden’s flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment and his political embrace of Senator Harris, could be a problem for him on Election Day.
However, the former Vice President is counting on the Catholic clergy remaining largely silent. The church is frightened, intimidated, and under financial siege due to the clerical abuse of children. Few American priests will speak out on anything.
After Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the nation’s most powerful Catholic voice, said the opening prayer at the Republican National Convention, he was brutally attacked on social and traditional media. Some wealthy Catholic donors even resigned from church boards. The message was heard loud and clear by Catholic clergy in America.
So Mr. Biden may well believe he has little to fear from the Church.
As for Joe’s faithfulness to the faith, who really knows? In 1936, Stephen Vincent Benet wrote a short story entitled “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” In it, a good man sells his soul for prosperity. In real life, it would be unfair to suggest that any politician would ever do that.
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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
Please share your thoughts as to the newest PC dictate that the word “black” must be capitalized. I have noticed that this is the case even in the WSJ (at least non-Op-Eds). This seems like an Orwellian power move to control the narrative. It also is completely contrary to, and inconsistent with, the messages of unity and equality we are force fed pretty much every day. Maybe a great topic for an upcoming Off The Cuff. — Michael F.
Let’s just say, Michael, that PC has run amok. But if we’re going to capitalize Black why not the same with White? The PC police have an answer for that. Here’s an explanation (of sorts) from the Columbia Journalism Review:
“AT THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, we capitalize Black, and not white, when referring to groups in racial, ethnic, or cultural terms. For many people, Black reflects a shared sense of identity and community. White carries a different set of meanings; capitalizing the word in this context risks following the lead of white supremacists.”
This is beyond nonsense. As I say, the PC police have run amok and journalism has become another form of activism.
I think you give people like Stephanopoulos and Stelter too much credit for honest stupidity. They are in their positions because they have an ax to grind. There are few careers featuring such strong immunity to serious criticism. Seldom need they even bother to defend themselves from any criticism and never if it comes from a known conservative. Since the demise of objectivity in the 1960s New Left reporters feel entitled to let their personal beliefs and experiences add color and impact to their finished product. However they are careful to hide those beliefs from readers or viewers except as they might infer from the nature of specific reports or withering interviews. — John D.P.
First, John, I agree with you analysis (though the last sentence confuses me; no big deal). I think there are 3 main reasons this ax-grinding occurs: Bias. Corruption. Stupidity. Bias because they take sides. Corruption because it’s gone so far. Stupidity because in Stelter’s case anyway, he’s a dope.
Trump said this at a rally this week:
“Now we know [the coronavirus] affects elderly people. Elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it. You know, in some states thousands of people— nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows? Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”
Beyond the fact that the virus absolutely affects more than just old people with pre-existing conditions, I can’t think of a better political ad for Biden than Trump saying “it affects virtually nobody” at a time when over 200,000 Americans have already died from it, and many others have suffered long term and even permanent health damage. And how can anyone in the “pro-life” party defend this crap (though they all seem to be doing just that)? — Ben G.
For some, Donald J. Trump can do no wrong. He can say the stupidest thing and they’ll respond with, Biden is worse. That may be a reason to vote for Trump, but it’s not a reason to pretend he’s honest or knows what it means to act like the President of the United States. I’m with you, Ben.
I’m going to get off the front-page news of today (Trump/Biden/SCOTUS) to address an issue that drives me nuts. I want to rid this country of tax-exempt corporations; namely nonprofits. For rich entertainers and athletes forming a charity is sound tax advice as a method to avoid tax along with writing off their Bentley. To me, this was not the intent of nonprofits. I would like to see a Bernie Goldberg on HBO go after these “fake” charities by these filthy rich gifted people like he did camel jockeys. Let’s call the episode “Charity Jockeys”. Yes, I’m serious. Let me qualify. I do donate to good causes and I don’t because I can take the deduction. But I do take it. If the deduction was gone, I would still do it. — Tim H.
You’re right, Tim, there are some non profits that don’t give a lot of the money they take in to charity. They spend it on all sorts of other things and when they’re done, there’s not much left. That said, some non profits, as you know, are run well. Real Sports actually looked in to doing a story about athletes who set up charities that are, let’s say, questionable. For some reason we hit a snag. Maybe we’ll revisit, Tim.
Regarding this week’s Off The Cuff, about what the Dems are threatening to do if Trump and The Senate replace Ginsburg’s seat so close to the election — Making D.C. & Puerto Rico states, ending the filibuster (except when it benefits THEM), packing the Supreme Court, etc…
Let’s assume that Trump and McConnell honored the Dems’ requests and refrain from appointing a replacement. What exactly would stop the Dems from following through on their threats anyway if they were to win the Senate and the presidency? Why should Trump and McConnell trust them to keep their word? Also are the Republicans any more hypocritical than the Democrats in this matter regarding the Republicans’ behavior during the attempted appointment of Merrit Garland?
Funny how BOTH political parties have switched and changed their tune when the circumstances are not convenient for them. Finally, whether or not Ginsburg’s dying wish was that a new president should appoint her successor: Sorry but why should THAT make a difference? I highly doubt that the Dems would have honored that same request for Scalia under a similar set of circumstances. Your thoughts? — “Notorious RBG” Regards From The Emperor
You’re right on all counts, Your Holiness. First, yes, the Dems could pack the court even if the president doesn’t put through a nominee before the election. They could hold packing the court over the head of Republicans and kill the filibuster anytime a decision comes down that they don’t agree with. Second, yes again, both parties are hypocritical as I point out in a recent column I wrote for the Hill.
Finally, whether Justice Ginsburg actually said what’s attributed to her doesn’t really matter. Dems accuse Mr. Trump of politics. Sounds like the Justice was doing a little politicking too by supposedly saying she wants a new president to name a possible replacement for her.
In the age of political hysteria I think we should all (if we were ever exposed to his writing) heed the writings of Thomas Paine who wrote in his pamphlet Common Sense the following: “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.”
Is there any more pertinent advice for the American voters than those reflected above? Thank you and keep up the good work. We need more sane voices, even those from the past. — Douglas C.
That quote is why a lot of his critics say Tom was a Paine.
What do you think of the possibility of Trump “reaching across the aisle” and nominating Merrick Garland to replace Ginsburg? He wouldn’t lose any ground as the court already leans conservative and Garland is arguably to the right of Ginsburg. It could also allow him inroads to winning the moderate vote in his re-election bid. — Gus
I think the odds of President Trump nominating Garland are … ZERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Personal question since I remember you writing about George Carlin a while back. Who are your all-time favorite comedians (maybe your top 3)? Thanks. — Floyd R.
Interesting question, Floyd.
Carlin … Rodney Dangerfield … and Nancy Pelosi.
One of my prized possessions is a book Carlin signed for me. It says, “To Bernie, Go F**K yourself.”
In apparent preparation for the first presidential debate, Trump just declared that moderator Chris Wallace is “controlled by the radical left.” It’s whiny nonsense, of course, but what always strikes me is how the shots Trump takes at the integrity of respected Fox News journalists almost never get mentioned and discussed on the Fox News commentary shows. Do you think the journalists ever get fed up with their Fox News colleagues on the commentary side almost never sticking up for them? — Jen R.
I’ve had discussions with Fox journalists about Fox commentators. Journalists get hassled when they’re covering stories because people hate Hannity and Ingraham. No one’s forcing the reporters to stay. They’ve apparently come to accept the situation they’re in. I’m not surprised, Jen, that generally speaking the commentators don’t stick up for the journalists at FNC. The prime time crew are Trump cronies, toadies, bootlickers. They’ll never criticize him. And as for Trump saying Chris Wallace is “controlled by the radical left” … he’s a fool … and I’m not talking about Chris. Note: When Trump told Fox’s Brian Kilmeade that Wallace is “controlled by the radical left,” Kilmeade responded: “I will tell you for sure, [Chris Wallace] is not controlled by anyone.”
Bernie, years ago, when you confused rapper Ice Cube for rapper Ice-T on national television, did it do any permanent damage to your previously impeccable street cred? Also, did it cause any problems for your record label in 2012, as you were recording your own debut rap album entitled, “Straight Outta Rutgers”? — John D.
No, JD my Homey, the Cube and the Bern Man are still tight. No harm to my street cred, sucker. As for that Straight Outta Rutgers BS… You think you be funny. You not. I’m actually on the album in a cut called Quiet on the Set. I come in at around 2 minutes and 55 seconds. Think I’m fooling’. Check it out (below). They don’t call me Notorious BRG for nothing.
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