Video: Dennis Prager on the Left's Threat to Western Civilization
A conservative titan speaks at the Freedom Center's evening honoring Dr. Robert Shillman.
Editor’s Note: Below are the video and transcript of Dennis Prager speaking about the Left’s threat to Western Civilization at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Aug. 3rd evening honoring Dr. Robert Shillman in Newport Coast, California. Other featured speakers included Dutch freedom fighter Geert Wilders, whose speech will appear in an upcoming edition of FrontPage.
DENNIS PRAGER: Well, I’ve had a number of challenges in life. My current biggest challenge is that people are trying to – You may have seen my column on this. It’s been reprinted. Front Page Mag did it as well. I’m conducting at the Walt Disney Music Center. I have an avocation as a conductor. I’m sure it’s not known to any of you, and that’s fine – (laughter) – but I will be conducting a Haydn symphony, and the left is trying to get me uninvited. And, as I point out, it is remarkable. At universities, you can’t come if you’re a Conservative to speak. Now, we are at a new level. You can’t even come not to speak. (Laughter.)
It’s really, it’s unique. Maybe there will soon be orchestras divided by philosophy. We’ll have the, you know, the left-wing progressive orchestra and no other. But that is what it is.
Anyway, I was going to – I only raised that because I have another challenge, to speak to you before you eat. That was really the point that I wanted to make. I know it’s a little easier to speak afterwards.
I am delighted to be here because I love David Horowitz. I’ll tell you why I love David Horowitz, cause he’s a fighter. And I have a certain view of life, and that is that most of the people don’t fight. This is why we lose. More bad people fight than good people fight. That’s the only reason we lose. (Applause) And it’s very distressing. I don’t know why. Honestly, I don’t know why, and I analyze things constantly, but I don’t know why that’s true.
That’s why my favorite verse from the Bible – I am a God-believing individual, and the Bible is the book of my wisdom, and I often debate which is my favorite verse, but I have to say, at this time, my favorite verse is, “Those of you who love God, must hate evil.“ It is an actual – It is a scriptural directive. If you don’t hate evil, you don’t love God. Okay? It’s simple as that. And so there’s a directive to hate evil. (Applause.)
And so I’m also here because that’s true about Dr. Bob and it’s true about Geert Wilders. These guys hate evil and they fight, and so along with David Horowitz, that’s a pretty powerful trifecta.
And I am just delighted to be here, and I want you on my radio show, sir, to spread – I’m not kidding, as I have millions of listeners and I want you to have another forum. You have many, but it’s very important.
By the way, just one word about the 6-foot-four requirement for speaker tonight, and what Mike mentioned, so it reminded me of a hilarious story. This actually happened. It’s a very funny life to be a public figure cause it’s a somewhat different life. It just is, because most – In normal life, you’re not stopped in the street, but if you’re a public figure you are – And, by the way, I have no issue with it. I am always flattered when people come by. I am never annoyed if I’m eating or what – Really, I mean it.
So this happened at LAX, LA International Airport about a year ago. I was waiting for my wife to pick me up, and I was standing there and a young Hispanic woman kept staring at me. And it was clear she was debating whether to come over. She finally does, and she goes, “Excuse me, are you – ” And whenever people go, “Are you,” I always say yes before they finish, which is slightly arrogant, I fully acknowledge. I do. But 99 percent of the time it’s accurate. And she goes, “Phil Jackson?“ (Laughter.)
So you have to understand how embarrassing this was. I then spent the next five minutes explaining I don’t go around telling people I’m Phil Jackson. Please understand. She didn’t understand why I said yes. It was a very – it was a humbling moment. And we all could use those.
All right. So let me talk to you in the time given to me. I have a few things to state. Western Civilization is in crisis, in massive crisis, and the reason is the left. And if one doesn’t understand that it is the left versus the West, one understands nothing about the modern world. It is as simple as that.
By the way, this is critical. I say this every show, every single show. I write it in every column. I mean the left, not liberals. The usurpation of the word “liberal” by the left has been a catastrophe, and we shouldn’t fall into it. When I do this, you have no idea how positive the response is from people who don’t identify with closing down universities with violent students. They don’t – But if everybody says “liberal students,” then they don’t know what to do, cause they’re liberal. They’re not liberal students. They’re left-wing students. The left is the enemy, not liberals, and you must say that to anyone you wish to convert, because it’s very powerful. And then they’ll say, “Well, what’s the difference?“ And I could give you a speech right now just on the difference between liberal and left. I’m not, but I will give you one.
I grew up a liberal. Of course, I did. I’m a Jew from New York. I mean, it is in my birth certificate. (Laughter.) In fact, that is more fixed than gender. So – (Laughter.) (Applause.)
All right. So, you know, I’m a liberal. Okay. So when I grew up, you must understand, this strikes people as – even perhaps many conservatives as unbelievable, but I think it’s true of most conservatives. I don’t know what liberal value I shed, and, now, I’m considered a major right winger. I really don’t know. I ask people what – I don’t know of any that I abandoned, and, now, I’m a conservative. In other words, conservatives are the people who hold liberal values. That is what has happened. It has shifted, and we need to protect language.
In any event, here is the example that I give if I only can give one example, and that is race. We were taught that the liberal position – there is no other liberal position – is that race doesn’t matter, that skin color is of utter irrelevance, that if you think color matters, you’re a fascist. You’re a racist fascist. That’s the way liberals were taught. Only racists believe race matters. We, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we believe character is everything. Race is nothing. (Applause.)
Today, race is considered everything. Race is intrinsically valuable. The last people to say this were the Nazis. Now, I never compared the left to Nazis. They’re not opening up concentration camps. However, it’s either a fact or I should be held accountable for telling you a lie that the last idea prior to the current left to hold that race matters is the Nazis. It’s either true or not true, and if it’s not true, I deserve to be called on it. But if it is true, the left needs to be called on it.
Do you know that the University of California – And this is on the internet. They are proud of it. They have issued a list of micro-aggressions, this nonsensical idea of you don’t realize you’re a racist, but if you say the following you really are a racist. Here is an example. It is officially a racist comment if you say, “There is only one race. The human race.“ That is considered to be, by the University of California, to be a racist comment. That was the quintessence of liberalism when I grew up. It is now considered right-wing racism.
Leftism is despicable. If can’t say that, you don’t understand what is happening in the Western World and the whole world today. It is the enemy of the West. When President Trump said in Warsaw, “We have to protect Western Civilization,” it was said all through the left-wing press, which is the mainstream media, New York Times and on, that it was a dog whistle to white racists, to white supremacy, because Western Civilization is now a code word for white supremacy. Okay?
How’s this: The chief music critic of the New York Times just wrote this week a piece – Now, as you know, obviously, from my conducting, I’m very involved in classical music. So anything on this stuff fascinates me. President Trump mentioned, “You know, the West produced the symphony,” which is a fairly rhetorical statement to say the truth is not all cultures are equal. We have done better, and he gave the symphony as an example.
The chief music critic of the New York Times this week, Anthony Tommasini, said, “That is ridiculous. The symphony is no better than any other music,” and he gave the example of a certain form of Indonesian music, which I decided my wife, who is my alter ego and has listened to every show for the last 13 years and IMs me during the show, sent me immediately a YouTube of the Indonesian music he cited. I then played it on the air. At a certain point my engineer came in with a knife to stab me – (laughter) – and so I knew I really have to stop this.
Now, by the way, I’m kidding, and, please, if you’re Indonesian, okay. And I mean it. (Laughter.) I have no doubt – I mean it sincerely. By the way, I really do love folk music of all the world. I’m not kidding. I am one Jew who loves Arab music, for example. I love Farsi music. I love Arab music. I have a very, very broad acceptance. I found this – It was just percussive, and I didn’t find it meaningful, but I have no doubt that Indonesians do.
But here’s the point: In Indonesia, they play Beethoven, but they don’t play any Indonesian music outside of Indonesia. The greatest performances of Bach today are taking place by Japanese performers in Japan. The greatest – I would say half of the greatest instrumentalists – and we’re living in a golden age of instrumentalists – cellists, violinists, pianists – half, at least, today are from Asia. But nobody’s – But outside of Korea, people don’t play Korean music. Outside of Japan, people don’t play Japanese music.
By the way, I’m Jewish. I don’t expect any non-Jew to listen to Jewish music. Most Jews don’t listen to Jewish music. (Laughter.) Okay? It’s like liking gefilte fish. (Laughter.) It’s an acquired taste from birth or you will never have it the rest of your life. Okay? I don’t put Jewish music up there with Beethoven. I’m not an idiot. I’m not deaf. What? Are you kidding? Adon Olam versus Beethoven’s Third? All right. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Just the others, it’s a very well-known Jewish prayer that should be sung in under 90 seconds and you leave. That’s – So – But you can’t say this, do you understand?
By the way, Tommasini is in my book, my book on leftism, Americanism and Islamism, Still the Best Hope. I actually quote Tommasini. Right before the publication of my book, he came out with a column in the New York Times, the Ten Greatest Composers. Oh, I love that stuff, cause I don’t care if I agree. I just want to know what their arguments are. Why do you think this 10 and I think this 10? It’s fun.
He didn’t include Haydn, who’s the father of the symphony, the father of the quartet, the father of the piano trio, the father of most oratorios outside of Handel. He didn’t include Handel, the composer of the greatest oratorio ever written, Handel’s Messiah, and so on.
So he said, “Well, I want you to understand why,” because he did include Bartok and Debussy and Stravinsky. He said, “I didn’t want to have too many Viennese composers.“ (Laughter.) So it’s not a list of the 10 greatest composers. It’s an affirmative action list for Hungarians. (Laughter.) No, no, no. Do you understand? Do you – This is – This is the way they – This is the same guy who says the symphony is no better than Indonesian music.
And then really distressing, cause I like him, and he’s made (inaudible) University videos, Bret Stephens, now with the New York Times, you know, he wrote a column attacking me, and then I wrote a column responding. And then I debated with him at the New York Times site on a – what is it called? – a Facebook page of the New York Times, but he wrote – he wrote similarly about – about Western culture. He said, “Well, what does the president mean by Western Culture? Stalin and Marx and Lenin and Hitler, they’re part of the West.”
No, but they’re not. They’re not. They considered Western Culture to be as big an enemy as Islamists do. Stalin is not Western Civilization. He is a geographic Westerner, born in Georgia, but he’s not Western Civilization.
This is what is going on now. There is no belief – And I tell you a book I just read, and, you know, authors don’t – Authors want you to read their own books, but here’s a book I didn’t write and I want you to read, The Strange Death of Europe, which is frightening. It is just frightening, how multiculturalism is ending Europe. Geert Wilders is a hero in raising this point. Give him a hand, cause he really is. (Applause.)
It’s over. It is over. There is no belief any longer. They believe in – You know what Europeans believe in? They believe in fewer hours of work. (Laughter.) They do. I’m serious. More paid leave, more maternity – Well, they don’t believe in maternity leave cause they don’t believe in maternity. So I take that back. They’re not reproducing. Why would you reproduce? There’s no reason to reproduce. There’s no – You reproduce if you believe that your civilization needs to continue. But in Western Europe there is no belief.
That is why, by the way, it is – I learned – When I was in graduate school at Columbia, I learned that the reason that people are having fewer children is affluence. It’s not true. The reason people have fewer children is secularism. Rich, religious people have a lot of children.
When I get a call from a caller it is never – not once in 35 years has this not been the case. Someone will call me up and if they mention that they have more than five children, I say – So I say, “Don’t answer me. Just tell me are you an Orthodox Jew, a Mormon in good standing in your church, a practicing Catholic or an Evangelical Christian?“ They have been one of those four in every instance in 35 years of broadcasting. I’ve never met a secular person with six kids, because there’s no reason to do it.
And, by the way, this is my final point, cause I want you to have your dinner. This is where I have a big problem with most conservatives, and it almost – almost renders me hopeless. Ultimately, I don’t care if you’re an atheist. The issue – And that is why I love Douglas Murray, the guy who wrote this book, the British guy. He’s a gay atheist. He’s perfect. He has hit all the most important acceptable arenas, and this guy, who is an atheist, he knows, he understands the death of Judeo-Christian values is the death of Europe.
The problem with most wonderful conservatives is that they don’t understand that this is, at its core, a religious issue. (Applause.) That – And that’s why three people applauded. That is what always happens. No, no. And it’s okay. I never speak for applause. I only wanted to point out that most of you don’t resonate to it, and I understand that, but you’re wrong.
Secular conservatism, in America in particular, should be an oxymoron. This country has a trinity. It is on every coin and every bank note. “Liberty,” In God we trust,” “E pluribus unum.“ “In God we trust” is not a throw-away line. God means, and has meant, limited government in America. Big God, little government. Little God, big government. It’s inevitable. De Tocqueville said that. I didn’t make that up. It is ultimately a crisis of belief, a crisis not out of being believe – that you believe in God – I hope you do – but it’s a belief – He doesn’t believe in God, Murray, but he believes, he knows that at the core this is the issue.
After World War I, Christianity and nationalism died in Europe. There is nothing to believe in except fewer work hours. That’s all they stand for. They didn’t even write – And I’m a Jew saying this, a Jew who wrote a book on antisemitism. I know about European Christian antisemitism. I wrote a book on it. Nevertheless, truth is truth. Europe was formed by Christianity. No Christianity, no Europe. And in the charter of the European Union just made up like 10 years ago, the word “Christianity” does not appear. It does not appear. That is unbelievable. It’s just – I don’t care what you believe. There’s still truth. You can say, “We no longer believe in Christianity, but this is what formed Europe.”
So what do they believe in? Nothing. That’s why open borders is not a problem to the left. Open borders only troubles those who want to preserve their civilization. We, in this room, want to preserve American civilization, so we don’t want open borders. The left has no civilization to preserve, so, of course, they’re for open borders.
Their positions actually make sense once you have their premises. That’s why this is – This is the battle. This is the greatest battle. It is easy to defeat Islamism. It is impossible to defeat internal termites. Termites bring down your structure. The left is the termite of Western Civilization, not liberals, the left. When you understand that, you have to just then decide to fight, cause good people fighting is what we need.
Thanks for having me. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)