Broadside Books, 2012.
The Lefties are going to really hate this book. You see, almost everything the Left hates or denigrates or minimises, such as God, freedom, personal responsibility, small government, family, hard work, patriotism, and so on is defended in this important new volume.
American Jewish conservative and social commentator Dennis Prager here does a terrific job in defending America, and showing how the Left is wrong at just about every turn. Indeed, he actually believes that America – with all its faults – is still worth defending and championing.
He also notes that there are three competing ideologies today: Islamist, Leftist, and American, all of which are incompatible with the other. Thus this book performs three major tasks: it affirms all that is great about America; and it defines and critiques the radical Left; and it looks at Islam and the threat it poses to American values.
As to American values and the American vision, he says three core values undergird America: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum”. His chapter on “The American Trinity” may be the highlight of the book. Liberty is of course at the heart of what America is all about.
It is its overwhelming passion for freedom that has drawn people from all over the world – even at risk of life and limb. “More people from more countries have immigrated to America in order to be free than to the rest of the world’s countries put together.”
And as he rightly states, liberty and big government are fully incompatible: “Individual liberty exists in inverse proportion to the size of the state. The bigger the government/state, the less liberty the individual has. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.”
The religious foundation of America is also essential to understand. All the founding fathers – even those who were more or less deists – knew that the new republic would never work without God and religion. It was inconceivable to them to talk about America succeeding without faith and morality.
“What the Founders did regarding God and liberty was as unique as it was brilliant: they substituted God (and moral religion) for a powerful secular or religious state and they tied liberty to God.” And all of them were preoccupied with the Bible, and believed in a God who was concerned about the nations, and judged them when necessary.
Finally, the American vision has always been about “from many, one”. America was the great melting pot which took people in from all over the world. And those who came liked America and its values, and were happy to integrate into it. While the Left champions diversity, America has always championed diversity in unity.
In his analysis of the Left he rightly states that it is “both a way of understanding the world and a value system. It is, in fact, a form of religion, albeit a secular one.” It ultimately favours looking to government and politics for meaning, purpose, and solving every problem.
Instead of looking to self reliance, or drawing on faith, the Left want to drag the state into every issue. Utopia is to be created here and now by means of politics. “For the Left, politics is the way to transform the world; for conservatives, politics is primarily the way to stop the Left from doing so.”
The Left, says Prager, emulates, and wants America to be like, Western Europe, with its statism, welfarism, secularism, pacifism, moral relativism, victimisation, sexual anarchy, and egalitarianism. It despises America’s religiosity, exceptionalism, love of limited government, self-reliance, morality, nationalism, patriotism, and free markets.
And the Left is always about change – even change for the sake of change. That is why they call themselves “progressives”. The status quo is always taboo, and change must always be engaged in, in the attempt to find an elusive utopia on earth.
“The conservative view is that the best is the enemy of the better and attempts to create utopia usually destroy much of what is good in a society. That is why conservatives marvel at how good America is while Leftists seek to ‘transform’ it.”
And as he correctly observes, “The Left is animated largely by feelings. … The feelings-based nature of liberalism helps explain a liberal and Left phenomenon – how much more likely people on the Left are to say that they feel ‘offended’ when confronted with views with which they differ.”
This is seen in many ways. Our schools for example are awash with moral relativism. “What has supplanted belief in the existence of moral truths are feelings about what is moral. Many children have been raised to ask, ‘How do I feel about it?’ rather than ‘Is it right or wrong?’”
Islam is another major ideology, and Prager – although optimistic of moderate reformers prevailing one day – notes how radically it differs from American values. The separation of church and state – properly understood – is of course a primary feature of America, but it is completely lacking in Islam.
He notes how fundamentally different Christianity is from Islam. For example, Christians do not pose a threat to non-Christians, and Christian America has no similar body of religious laws like sharia (Islamic law). And while religious violence has occurred in Christianity’s history, it is the exception to the rule, and not the norm, as in Islam.
The threats of militant Islam and militant leftism must constantly be monitored, identified and resisted. America has never been a perfect nation, but it has been amongst the most free, the most democratic, and the most prosperous nations ever to exist.
And given how often and how regularly it goes to the defence of freedom around the world (at very great cost), and offers tangible aid and assistance to those nations suffering in various ways, it really is a nation worth defending – warts and all. Such pro-Americanism may not be a popular thing to do today, but Prager has really pulled it off, doing just that.
In sum, a brief review cannot do proper justice to a detailed volume of over 400 pages. It is hoped that the quotes I provide and the summary I offer will tempt the reader to get the book and enjoy it, learn from it, and be encouraged by it. It deserves a very wide reading indeed.