A Young College Grad Calls My Show

1275923315_96962728_1-online-radio-host-required-multan-1275923315Last week, on my radio talk show, I received a call from Jeff, a 21-year-old in North Carolina. I have abridged it and edited it stylistically.

JEFF: I wanted to respond to your question about America being feared in the world. You brought up Syria. I think it’s a little naive, and maybe that’s not even the right word, to boil down such complex international issues into just good and bad. Like to say that America, for you, represents good. And to just boil down the Syria situation into good and bad is to underestimate the complexity of the situation. Because if the United States were to get involved there, you know, there might be consequences for us in that region that I think would be definitely more bad than good.

DP: Like what?

JEFF: If we were to depose Assad, there could be a power vacuum and that could create more problems than we intended.

DP: There are two separate questions here. One is: Should the United States be feared by bad regimes? The other is: What should the United States do? They’re not identical. So let’s deal with the first: Would you acknowledge that it would be good if countries like Putin’s Russia, Iran or North Korea — though I don’t compare Putin to North Korea — feared us? And do you think they do?

JEFF: I think that’s a really good question. If I had the answer to that I think I’d be secretary of state.

DP: It’s not that tough a question. What we should do is a tough question. But whether America should be feared by bad regimes is not a tough question.

Let me just throw in a tangential comment that I think is important: I presume you went to college.

JEFF: Oh, yeah.

DP: The reason I presume that you went to college is that you were taught — and this is no knock on you whatsoever since anyone who takes liberal arts courses, in political science in particular, is taught — what you just told me: You can’t divide between good and bad, because it’s too complex.

But that’s not accurate. There is a good and bad. Yes, sometimes there is bad and worse — in Syria today, for example. But between Syria and the United States the difference is between bad and good. Would you agree that it’s between bad and good between Syria and the United States?

JEFF: As an American, absolutely.

DP: Wait a minute. That’s a terrible answer. I don’t want you to answer me as an American. I want you to answer me as a moral human.

JEFF: I can only answer you as an American. I can’t answer you as anyone else.

DP: That’s not true. If I asked you how much two and two is, you wouldn’t answer me as an American.

JEFF: Here’s my only comment, I would just, you know, hesitate to boil down international issues of such complexity, with multiple variables, to, “It’s simply good or bad.” And that’s my only comment.

DP: Thank you for calling.

What Jeff said is what I was taught at college. It is heartbreaking to hear how effective left-wing college indoctrination continues to be, with its morally obfuscating concepts such as “too complex.”

The morally obvious fact is that the United States is overwhelmingly a force for good both in the world and within its borders, and Syria is overwhelmingly a force for evil both in the world and within its borders. Yet, colleges have taught for at least two generations that such judgments are illegitimate.

If you want to judge whether Sweden or Denmark is better, that’s complex. Or whether Iran or Syria is more evil. That, too, is complex. But between Denmark and Syria, there is no moral complexity.

The other revealing comment my caller made was that he could only say “as an American” that America was a better country than Syria.

This, too, reflects a fundamental left-wing doctrine taught at colleges — that there are no moral truths, and we can only subjectively observe the world as members of a group. There are, therefore, black truths, white truths, rich truths, poor truths, male truths, female truths. Accordingly, for example, since men do not get pregnant, they cannot morally judge abortion.

To Jeff’s credit, he listens to a radio show that so differs from what he was taught in college. There is therefore some hope that he will eventually realize how much nonsense he was taught at college. Dangerous nonsense.

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  • adamjw2

    This is a microcosm for the current administration’s foreign policy.

  • Charles Martel

    We have no vital interests to compel us towards involvement in Syria.

    I do believe America is still good, but only in the fact that it is still free. Specially, we can still speak our minds without going to jail even thought we may lose our jobs. However increasingly we are long those freedoms and the most relevant things we seem to want to export to other countries are our disgusting values such as the gay agenda and abortion rights. These seem to be our current administration’s primary objectives. Also, I do not believe every country’s people yearn for the same values of freedom that our waning majority support. This has been evident throughout the Middle East as we have overthrown dictators only to see as bad or worse democratically elected governments. How many of these do people such as Dennis has to see before they recognize this? How many of our young men and women have to die or be maimed before we stop this?

    Dennis, you are a good man in most regards but horribly naive when it comes to the understanding of cultural values. The values we are displaying are sliding into the gutter and the new cultures we are importing both legal and illegal are very tribe and care little for the historic American concept of democracy by via a republic.

  • RAS

    Dennis Prager makes a solid, logical argument.
    In my view if we can’t discern between good or evil, right or wrong (either morally or from a practical standpoint) we will find life’s upward path difficult to follow. What
    are good intentions? The Left claims good intentions frequently when its programs produce bad results (short term gains at the price of long term disasters). America is not perfect but tell me who will become the deterrent to tyrants or the stabilizing force for world order after America abdicates? I trust that it will not be the UN.

  • FrontPgSubscr

    Very good article. It wouldn’t be hard to to see myself as Jeff. The foundation we must have, before ANYTHING else, is a FIRM understanding of good and evil.
    I assume (I think correctly) that Jeff has been ‘steeped’ in moral relativism which
    is absolutely rampant on the college campuses … the disseminators of (this) BS (bull shit). Maybe, we can be just a tiny bit hard on Jeff, but the GOOD thing is he’s not absolutely comfortable with where he’s at. Discernment can come ONLY from a solid understanding of what ‘good’ and ‘evil’ really are. A good place to begin are the severely persecuted Christians (FRONTPAGE has discussed) in radically Islamist and totalitarian regions. Ask them! Communicate with them!

  • De Doc

    That the US needs to project an image of competence and power abroad is a given. That does not mean we stick our snout into every hotspot in the world, though. The problem with this administration is that it issues empty threats, expecting the other side to immediately back down. Of course at this point every time Kerry attempts to bluster his way through foreign policy, the other side just laughs and keeps doing what it wants to do.

  • Greg

    My spouse was born in China, but is now a naturalized citizen. So could they say as a hypothetical example that “As an American I think murder is bad, but as a Chinese citizen I thought murder was good.”.

    That is a ridiculous statement.

    But it just goes to show that something are true or are moral (or should be) no matter what group you belong to.

    • Shel Zahav

      You made the ridiculous statement.

  • Erniesam

    yes, this relativism is very annoying and I would say potentially dangerous. I have encountered it many times too. “We cannot jugde other cultures, because we do not understand it or have lived it.” Something of that nature.

    I used to doubt whether there is indeed right and wrong. I had a somewhat liberal upbringing though I came out of it pretty healthy I would say. I certainly do believe there is a right and a wrong, but I do not find their meanings static. I don’t consider there to be a basket of good things and a basket of bad things. For instance the phrase: “Passing on bread” seems to be a good thing. But when one has the choice between “bread” and something better, the passing of the “bread” is a bad thing, meaning you want to keep the best thing for yourself and give the “lesser thing” away. But this in itself would have to be bad, because I believe in the selfish gene: you first have to take care of yourself before you can take properly care of others.

    So I view the areas of good and bad as sort of pools of water, where you can fish for these things. There’s no denying that whatever comes out of this is either good or bad, but it depends on the circumstance and situation in which pool you are fishing.

  • Danny

    That’s nothing, you wouldn’t believe the absurdities we were taught in teachers college. I doesn’t get any worse than that.

  • r3VOLution is not republican


    A decade+.
    10,000+ DEAD.
    10,000+ injured.
    110,000+ ACTIVE DUTY TROOPS on mind-bending meds.
    Suicides OUTNUMBERING combat deaths in 2012.
    Shattered families.
    2 tours, 3 tours, 4 tours, 5!
    Trillions (that we DON’T HAVE) wasted.
    NOBODY “TRAINED” enough to fight for themselves.
    Americans murdered BY THE PEOPLE THEY ARE “TRAINING.”
    NOBODY “liberated” (for more than an third-world minute).
    Unconstitutional police/surveillance state. TSA, DHS, NDAA, VIPR Teams, swarming drones, “Patriot” act (1770s Writs of Assistance… THAT HELPED IGNITE OUR REVOLUTION).
    A completely SURRENDERED ILLEGAL ALIEN INVASION into our OWN FRONT YARDS that is killing, raping, child-molesting, home-invading and hammered-driving-hit-n-running over THOUSANDS!!!!!!!

  • r3VOLution is not republican

    “The morally obvious fact is that the United States is overwhelmingly a force for good both in the world and within its borders”… IS LAUGHABLE!

    1. The republican/democrat (same thing) MONOPOLY leadership and its UNCONSTITUTIONAL foreign policy of welfare, warfare, propping up and tearing down… IS NOT “America.”
    2. “Good” for the world HOW?!?!?!?!?!

    3. “Good” for within its borders HOW?!?!?!?!

    Ya’d think after DECADES of this republican/democrat (same thing) IDIOTIC, BANKRUPTING, BLOOD-DRENCHED, INTERVENTIONIST foreign policy… the NEOCONS would quiet their rhetoric a bit. BUT IT ONLY SEEMS TO BE GETTING LOUDER!

    • Shel Zahav

      I can agree with you that Democrats and Republicans are not essentially the same thing and they are merely arguing over who gets to steal more of the money. However, Constitutional America is still a beacon of hope for much of the world.

  • r3VOLution is not republican

    “To Jeff’s credit, he listens to a radio show that so differs from what he was taught in college” IS FALSE.

    The LEFTIST (Central Government Planning) MS(republican)M, the LEFTIST (Central Government Planning) MS(democrat)M and the LEFTIST (Central Government Planning) universities ARE IDENTICAL and “differ” ONLY in deceptive rhetoric TO MAKE THEM APPEAR to be “opposing” worldviews.

    THIS is the “morally obvious fact” that DP has spent his CAREER covering up.

    • Shel Zahav

      “Convoluted” is your name!

  • Shel Zahav

    Strong arguments by a clear thinker.

  • Anamah

    I enjoyed this logic, clear, clean article… You have made a good portrait of our Leftist colleges…and the paralysis they are pushing into our children minds…
    Thank you Dennis Prager!

  • Ramble

    Just more of the moral equivalence prevalent in politics and it seems, college courses. I have a kids starting college in the fall. It will be interesting to see if his thoughts on the things we have taught him shift, or get squishy (as you all know, progs love them some squishy, it removes the need to take responsibility.) we’ve discussed over the years the dependence fostered by Uncle Sam and his parade of idiots in the political realm. The left/right divide is just shades of evil. One looks better than the other from ones viewpoint. Both are evil, marketing is where they diverge. The simple truth is .gov has gotten larger, more corrupt, more intrusive and less accountable for the past 50 years. The biggest difference lately is that some are pushing the accelerator through the floorboard in their psychotic quest for dominion over their subjects in all areas of life. College is a great twofer for the masses; brainwashing and debt slavery, you pick which one leads to the other.

  • tagalog

    Part of the good news on this front is that Jeff still makes judgments about good and bad. He just does it when it comes to smoking tobacco products, the value of legalizing mariuana, and racial and sexual issues. The fact that his moral judgments about good vs. evil in those areas is skewed will straighten itself out in time as he learns his life lessons about REAL nuance.

    When he claims that it is bad to judge, he, like many post-adolescents, is blind to his own judgments. That will change in time as people begin to hold him to his own terms.

  • Bob Sten

    Funny, left wing professors brainwash the young and naive that one cannot judge others (as it’s “racist” or “xenophobic”, or “intolerant”, or “sexist”, or whatever is the latest term to socially bully those you want to silence).


    They consistently bash white males, european history and culture, christianity, and the like. The left wing mob consistently uses western civilization and it’s peoples as a punching bag.

    So much for “not judging”. Too bad most students don’t take classes symbolic logic and reasoning. If they did, they would see right through the duplicity.