As long ago as the 1970s, I came to a major realization. While watching fellow students at Columbia University demonstrate not just against the war in Vietnam but against America — “Amerika,” as many spelled it, the “imperialist,” “colonialist,” “mass-murdering” country — I kept wondering what made these people so hostile to the freest country in human history.
Then, one day, as a result of my having attended a yeshiva (an Orthodox Jewish day school) through high school, the reason became clear. Half of each school day was devoted to religious studies in Hebrew, and the other half was devoted to secular studies in English. This meant that I had been immersed in a religious worldview until college.
Though it was Jewish, this worldview could also be called “Judeo-Christian.” Students at traditionally Christian schools were immersed in essentially the same worldview. We were all taught that the most important battle we need to wage in life was with our own nature. Jews and Christians learned from the same Scripture that “the will of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).
Therefore, being a good person involved a constant battle with our flawed human nature: our urges, appetites and innate weaknesses. This battle was also the only real route to a better world. Every individual had to work on him or herself to be decent, strong, courageous and self-controlled, and every parent had to work, first and foremost, on raising such people.
One day, I came to realize that this was not how the vast majority of my fellow students were raised. They were raised to believe that the great battle in life was not with one’s nature but with outside forces — with parents, in many cases, but most of all with society, i.e., America.
All of us, whatever our political outlook, have to confront personal failure, loss, disappointment and unhappiness. When confronted with these challenges, religious Jews and Christians are taught to look inward for both the primary source of their problems and the primary solutions to those problems: What have I done wrong? What can I change in my life to solve my problems?
Of course, some nonreligious liberals and conservatives also have this attitude. But most of them likely inherited it from religious parents or, at the very least, from parents who were raised in a religious home or a home that retained the remnants of such an upbringing, which was common in pre-1960s America. (It is therefore questionable how many secular parents will succeed in passing this attitude on to their children.)
The Left, which proudly rejects Judeo-Christian values, has adopted the opposite of the Judeo-Christian view regarding pain in life. Leftists (as opposed to liberals) hold outside forces responsible for their pain. That is the reason for the litany of left-wing enemies: capitalism, patriarchy, misogyny, systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, sexism, xenophobia.
So, then, if you are an unhappy American woman, you can work on yourself and your nature, or you can blame sexism and patriarchy, i.e., men, for your pained state.
If you are an unhappy gay American, you can work on yourself, or you can blame society’s homophobia for your unhappiness.
And, most significantly, if you are an unhappy black American, you can work on yourself and your life, or you can blame systemic racism and whites for your anger and unfulfilled life.
All this explains why the Left encourages every group except for white, Christian, heterosexual males to regard themselves as oppressed. The more oppressed women, gays, blacks, etc., see themselves, the more they are alienated from America and its values, and the more they gravitate Left. In light of this, I came up with a riddle:
Q: What do you call a happy black person?
A: A Republican.
Without an exception I can recall, over the course of decades, I have guessed the political affiliation of every black caller to my radio show within a minute of talking to them. If they sounded happy, I knew they were a Republican; if they were angry, I knew they were a Democrat. This has held true for male and female callers.
America has been a great country because it was built on the belief that we must all fight against our natures (and fight for our country). It is difficult to overstate the damage the Left is doing to this country by abandoning the fundamental Judeo-Christian teaching that we must fight our natures in order to lead a more decent and happy life and replacing it with the belief that we must battle America instead. This replacement inevitably leads to a population of unhappy, ungrateful and mean-spirited human beings — precisely the type of individuals you see rioting and looting, the type of elected officials who do nothing to stop rioters and looters, the columnists and academics who devote their lives to spewing hate-filled lies about America, and the Twitter mobs who comprise the toxic cancel culture.
It will lead to what the Left acknowledges it seeks: the end of America as we have known it.
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.