Prager’s Faulty Assessment Of Left vs. Conservative Thought
Conservative personality Dennis Prager, mirroring the Thomas Hobbs sentiment that “life is nasty, brutish, and short,” attempts to build an argument that conservative thought is based on accepting this harsh reality, while “left-wing” thought avoids acknowledgment of the flaws embodied in human nature and the struggles of life that come from it. Citing examples such as black-crime and feminism, not only do his arguments fall flat, but he exposes his own personal reluctance to address “painful realities of life.” See his presentation here:
1) (Dennis Prager): “At the core of left-wing thought is a denial of painful realities…Conservatives, on the other hand, are all too aware of the painful realities of life, and base many of their positions on them.”
“Left-wing thought” was responsible for providing remedies to many societal ills. It saw laborers being worked to the bone in hazardous conditions, and fought for the 40-hour work week and worker protections. It sees the pain caused when a powerful private entity exploits a vulnerable citizen, and fights for consumer protections. “Left-wing thought” pushes for universal health care when it sees people of lessor means who are suffering or dying from untreated illness, and advocates for Pell-Grants and other aid for the able-minded students unable to afford an education.
As a side note – I wonder how willing Dennis Prager would be to tell an African-American voter in a poor community (who overwhelmingly vote Democratic), that Prager himself is “more aware of the painful realities of life” than they are.
“Left-wing thought” is derived directly from those who endure suffering. And for privileged Prager to say that he, as a Conservative, is “all too aware of the painful realities of life” and those of “left-wing thought” wish to avoid those realities, is a synthetic statement that could only be manufactured and accepted in far-right laboratories of rhetoric.
2) “..when people do bad things to other people, the Left argues that some outside forces — usually poverty and, in the case of non-white criminals, racism — are responsible, not human nature. Why? Because people on the Left find it too painful to look reality in the eye and acknowledge that human nature is deeply flawed.”
Prager completely misses the mark here, giving the impression that blaming violent crime on poverty is just some unsubstantiated liberal talking point. What he doesn’t acknowledge is this idea is backed up with study after study, with a strong correlation established.
One only needs to be completely honest when assessing their own life. When a family does not have money to afford the very basics needed to provide for their children, managing mounting debt with no end in sight, it causes many negative psychological impairments such as stress, anxiety, depression and hopelessness. These impediments of rationality can influence a decision or action that otherwise may not have occured.
His thinking seems to be extremely narrow, unwilling to entertain a philosophical idea that perhaps one might steal a hypothetical loaf of bread because their family is starving, not because their nature is necessarily “deeply flawed”. Has Prager ever been put into this painful position? Very likely not, yet he has no problem making judgmental assertions.
3) “Another fact of life that the Left finds too painful to acknowledge is the existence of profound differences between men and women…This denial is certainly not the result of scientific inquiry. The more science learns about the male brain and the female brain, not to mention male and female hormones, the more it confirms important built-in differences between the sexes.”
This is a straw-man argument. I’ve never heard any respected politician or spokesman on the Left claim that there are no biological differences between men and women. This is a fake narrative that he and other conservative personalities have created.
4) “Yet many people, influenced by left-wing thought, believe that girls are as happy to play with trucks as are boys, and boys are as happy to play with dolls and tea sets as are girls.”
No. The difference between the Left and the Right on this issue is that if those on the Left see their son playing with dolls instead of trucks, they may simply allow it to happen without condemnation, instead of going into a full-fledged panic attack.
5) “Why do they believe such silliness? Because acknowledging many of those differences is painful.”
They don’t believe “such silliness”. And it seems that all Prager has been doing here is projecting his own distaste and fear (homosexuality, independent women) and attempting to disguise his personal discomfort as a credible argument. For him to acknowledge that empowering these groups in the name of equality is an positive step to better society, would go against the very fabric that built his career.
6) “For example, feminists and others on the Left do not want to acknowledge that men are far more capable of having emotionally meaningless sex than women. Therefore, feminism has taught generations of young women that they are just as capable of enjoying emotionless sex with many partners as are men. The fact is that the great majority of women are deeply dissatisfied with the hook up culture and yearn to bond with a man even more than they yearn for professional success. But feminism came up with the famous and false phrase, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” to counter the painful reality that most women feel incomplete without a man in their life — just as, I might add, most men feel incomplete without a woman. Ironically, however, most men have no trouble acknowledging this.”
Prager conveniently forgets the societal role a women was expecting to play- barefoot and pregnant, submissive housekeepers, that had dinner ready when her husband came home. A purpose of feminism was to diverge a woman from this role if they as individuals chose to do so. But in Prager’s false framing, feminism “counters painful realities that most women feel”, instead of it’s more truthful purpose – allowing for woman to be free to feel without societal judgement bestowed onto them regardless if their thoughts are what “most women feel” or not. Instead, Prager chooses to express the idea feminism as one that is fueled by condemnation instead of liberation.
To that concept of the fore-mentioned traditional role of the woman in the household – in his attempt to demonize those on the left, there are certain realities that he will not discuss. There are no popular or credible “left-thinking” individuals that I know of who condemn the “traditional familial arrangement” (or variations of it). But when men (and sometimes even women) decry that “this is the best arrangement for a well-functioning family structure” and attempt to inject this notion to once again make it a cultural norm, those “left-wing” thinkers will rightfully draw the line.
The framing of women being “capable” or not capable of enjoying meaningless sex is bizarre. An accurate portrayal of a feminist position would be not allowing societal biases and gender norms sculpt who you are and what you want to do. If you want to “enjoy meaningless sex” then do it. If you don’t, then refrain. This has nothing to do with “capability”.
7) “To cite yet another example, why are many young black males in prison? The reason is too painful for the Left to acknowledge and therefore it is politically incorrect to say it: Young black males commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime.”
Here is where you can make an interesting link in Prager’s reasoning and make what I feel would be an accurate assumption. He previously disregarded poverty as being a factor for violent crime. And now he points out how “young black males commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime.” I would assert a reason for the constant state of poverty is stemmed from generational racism and all the collateral damage that ensued from it.
But Prager’s reasoning for the young black male association with violent crime? He doesn’t give here, but he has stated in the past that “black culture” is to blame. Yet he makes no effort to connect the dots, unable to see that poverty is connected to his idea of black culture.
As if affluent white kids in the suburbs don’t join gangs and wear baggy pants (or whatever Prager’s idea of “black culture” is) simply because their culture simply promotes good decision-making. That decision isn’t even there for them to make, because the conditions from which drug dealing, violence, and gang-activity ferment are not present in their lives. They have good schools, are financially comfortable, live in a safe neighborhood, and have no need to act out of desperation.
8) “And why are there speech codes on virtually all college campuses? Because the Left doesn’t want to hear facts or opinions that cause them pain.”
First off, I do think that college campuses should not censor speakers with opinions that might be against the norm of the university. But they have every right to impose some limitations to the pointless or nonsensical topics. Just take Prager’s earlier point – students do actually acknowledge biological differences between men and women despite what Prager insinuates. A speaker addressing those differences would be very appropriate.
But Prager isn’t speaking as a neurologist just wanting to compare and contrast the inner-workings of two different brains. For at the crux of his argument is the need to maintain gender roles, in which society once again will dissuade or promote certain actions, behaviors, or pursuits based on gender. Any university should be able to deny a speaker on the grounds that when that speaker attempts to make a non-academic case that we should destroy meaningful progress made with gender equality.
9) “That’s why the Left constantly speaks about being made “uncomfortable” and about feeling “offended.” Being made uncomfortable or feeling offended, is, after all, painful.”
This is his second straw-man argument and extremely hypocritical. Prager and every conservative narrator I’ve ever heard continually preach to their listeners that they are victims. You’re paying too much in taxes, your liberty is being trampled on, they’re coming for your guns, there are liberal elites teaching your children, atheists are declaring war on Christmas, transgendered men are in women’s bathrooms, feminist are hateful “Feminazi’s,” too much big government, illegal aliens raping our women, exploding debt we’re handing off to our kids, the corrupt deep state, Sharia Law is being implemented in the U.S., the media is fake and biased toward liberals, ect..
Seemingly, the only purpose of conservative media serves at times is make the listeners “uncomfortable” and “offended”. And as a result, you often have to walk on eggshells when engaging with another conservative, as they are the ones who often feel a sense of fear and victimhood.
10) “Take the left-wing bumper sticker idea, “War Is not the Answer.” The painful truth is that war is often the only answer to great evil.”
This is his third straw man. Here, Prager takes this too literally. It is a bumper sticker – a slogan that just advocates a basic concept. I’d ask Prager to cite one single liberal of any prominence who believes that we should never go to war under any circumstance.
11) “One might say that Leftism appeals to those who wish to remain innocent. Growing up and facing the fact that life is messy, difficult and painful is increasingly a conservative point of view.”
Here Prager just restates his premise, phrasing it slightly differently. But in examining his statement that left-wing thinkers should grown up and “face the fact that life is messy, difficult and painful” one can see the absurdity of that phrase when applied to lawmaking and creating legislation.
Look at the recent tragedy of yet another school shooting in Parkland, Florida. A shooter there kills 17 kids. Liberals demand a massive change in our gun laws, urging restrictive measures to be imposed on the ability to obtain a weapon capable of so much destruction. The Republican Party still opposes any meaningful legislation because their campaigns are funded by the National Rifle Association, who will not see to it that access to their weapons of war will be limited by any impactful degree.
So I guess we just chalk up 17 dead kids to “life is messy, difficult and painful.”
The conservative-led Congress just issued $686 billion to an already bloated Pentagon budget which rewards the already vastly wealthy military contractors. But less than 10% of that ($60B) would be enough to provide free public college tuition for an entire year.
A ton of waste, fraud, and abuse resides in that large military budget. Yet, the idea that just a fraction of that money could be used to send academically capable and qualified students to a public university who otherwise couldn’t afford it? Perhaps Prager is of the opinion that those poor students should just realize that “Life is messy, difficult and painful.”
We are the only industrialized country in the world who does not provide healthcare it all of it’s citizens. Prager never lacked the resources to receive healthcare when he needed it throughout his life. But for those of lessor fortune than Prager? They often need to declare bankruptcy to receive treatment (over half of all U.S. bankruptcies were caused by medical expenses) or they suffer through the ailment, often dying from the untreated illness. Or as Prager would say, “Life is messy, difficult and painful.”
My point is government seems to be in the business of decreasing the messiness, difficulty, and pain of certain entities – as long as you’re a big insurance company, powerful gun organization, or a military contractor. But the regular American who needs government to work for them? Prager says to accept life’s brutality while hopefully bearing it with a grin.
Prager does his best to assess the thought process of the left-thinking liberal, but his analysis is ridden with overly simplistic and unfounded assumptions. Completely erroneous projections plague the commentary even more. But despite these flaws in the video, the viewer can indeed take something very important from it – the understanding of how his Right-thinking mind operates.
The unfortunate reality for Prager and many other promoters of conservative politics, is they show little or no ability to empathize. When they judge a decision or examine and issue, they are only able to do it through the scope of their own individual construct rather than through a prism of cascading personality. And though he’s fortunate enough not having to walk in another man’s shoes who traverses the terrain of a much more difficult road, he has no problem judging their decisions as it relates to his own narrow worldview and privileged self.
And true irony exists when a man like Prager attempts to explain “left-wing thought”, yet instead exposes the fundamental flaws with his own line of thinking, coming to conclusions through simplistic stereotypes from a world he knows nothing about, then applied with broad brush strokes.
Forget Prager’s analysis of the “left-wing” mind – the hesitation to examine the obvious flaws of his own thought process might be the actual “denial of a painful reality” here. ■