If you want to understand leftism — and everyone needs to, because it has been the most dynamic religion of the past one hundred years — one good place to start is with San Francisco.
Or, perhaps more precisely, with nudity.
Or, even more precisely, with public nudity.
Last month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted by the barest (pun not intended) margin, 6 to 5, to ban public nudity. By “public nudity,” the law means only displaying one’s genitals in public. San Francisco women are still free to walk around topless. But that is not unique to San Francisco. Years ago, the highest court in New York State ruled that since it sees no difference between a man’s chest and a woman’s, women should be free to walk around topless, just as men do.
Now why is all this significant?
Leftism seeks to undo most of the values that are distinct to Judeo-Christian religion. The Left has always been anti-religious, and especially anti-Christian. Karl Marx understood that a vibrant leftism and a vibrant Christianity could not coexist. He was right.
Two of the many areas of conflict between Judeo-Christian values and leftism concern the separation between the holy and the profane and the separation between humans and animals.
The essence of the Hebrew Bible, transmitted by Christianity, is separation: between life and death, nature and God, good and evil, man and woman, and the holy and the profane.
The reasons to oppose public nudity emanate from this Judeo-Christian list of separations.
When human beings walk around with their genitals uncovered, they are behaving in a manner indistinguishable from that of animals. A major difference between humans and animals is clothing; clothing separates us from — and in the biblical view, elevates us above — the animal kingdom.
Seeing any animal’s genitals is normal. Anyone who demanded that animals’ genitals be covered would be regarded as a nut by the most religious Jew or Christian.
But one of our human tasks is to elevate ourselves above the animal. And covering our genitals is one important way to do that.
The world of the Left generally finds this animal–human distinction unnecessary. For years now, I have been reading article after article in major liberal newspapers and magazines about how much more alike humans and animals are than we ever thought. The theme of these articles is how narrow the differences really are between humans and animals.
Public nudity certainly forwards that theme.
The second reason to oppose public nudity also comes from the list of separations: the concept of the holy, or sacred.
For the Left, little is sacred — certainly little in the ways that Jewish and Christian civilization has usually understood the term.
That is why an “artist” achieved cult-like status in the left-wing cultural world with a depiction of a crucifix in a jar of his urine. The crucifix is sacred to hundreds of millions of people — I will pee on it. Whatever Judeo-Christian convention holds sacred, true believing Leftists have sought to desacralize.
The San Francisco Examiner reported about one of the protesters at the San Francisco supervisors vote:
“As he pulled his pants up, a nudist named Stardust said the legislation sent the wrong message. ‘It’s telling people they should be ashamed to be naked, and that’s totally wrong,’ he said.”
But to those who believe in Judeo-Christian values, telling people to be ashamed about being naked in public is not totally wrong. It’s the whole point.
The first thing Adam and Eve discovered after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that they were naked. And the first emotion they ever experienced was shame over their nudity.
San Francisco and America and the West are going to have to choose whether Stardust or the Bible is right. By one vote San Francisco decided in favor of the Bible. But a judge, who may well have Stardust’s values, is yet to rule.
And it’s hard to see why a liberal judge would not rule the law unconstitutional. Because the fact is that there is no secular reason to ban public nudity.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of PragerUniversity and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.