View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, April 23, 2004

Dennis Prager Misses It 

Readers of this space know that I'm a big fan of Dennis Prager's show. I don't get to listen as often now because of school, but it's one of the more thoughtful ones on the air. However, I wonder if, despite his ongoing reading and intellectual curiosity, Mr. Prager isn't beginning to exhibit some signs of exhausting his intellectual capital. I've noticed a tendency recently to oversimplify issues, a tendency that wasn't there before.

The other day, in discussing Black voting patterns, Prager claims that most blacks voted Democratic, and were liberal, because they believed that American society as a whole was racist, if not individually, then institutionally. But most Jews still are liberals, and vote Democratic as well, and most Jews don't think that America or Americans are anti-Semitic. To the extent that their voting patterns depend on consciously answering the question, "Is it good for the Jews?", they may still see the Republican Party as harboring country-club anti-Semites and religious Baptists who want to convert them. I think these opinions are wrong, but that's not the point. The point is that you can vote Democratic not because you think the country is against you, but because you think the other party is.

It's not a matter of Jews feeling less Jewish than blacks feel black. If that were true, Jews would vote in far larger numbers for Republicans. In fact, the re-emergence of Jewishness, as it relates to Israel, may result in that this Fall, but it's opposite effect of what's posited. For the moment, Jews still vote Democratic.

I think Prager is underestimating the persistence of political affiliation. It's much more fluid here in America than in other places, but to a large degree, people inherit their party ties. They grow up in households that defend certain points of view. I think much of this is a legacy of W.E.B. DuBois, Jesse Jackson, and other leftists who took over black leadership, and identified that civil rights cause with other leftist policies. But it's not clear at all that the relationship runs in the direction Prager posits.

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