The Corner

Contra Prager

I’m normally a big fan of Dennis Prager’s but I really think this column of his is irresponsible. He writes:

America is engaged in two wars for the survival of its civilization. The war over same-sex marriage and the war against Islamic totalitarianism are actually two fronts in the same war — a war for the preservation of the unique American creation known as Judeo-Christian civilization.

One enemy is religious extremism. The other is secular extremism.

One enemy is led from abroad. The other is directed from home.

The first war is against the Islamic attempt to crush whoever stands in the way of the spread of violent Islamic theocracies, such as al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iranian mullahs and Hamas. The other war is against the secular nihilism that manifests itself in much of Western Europe, in parts of America such as San Francisco and in many of our universities….

….This civilization is now fighting for its life — as much here as abroad. Join the fight, or it will be gone as fast as you can say “Democrat.”

Me: Now I understand what he’s saying and I agree with several of his specific points but he glosses over the point which should supercede all others: “secular nihilists” — or whatever you want to call them — aren’t murdering people. They aren’t blowing up buildings, hijacking planes or shooting at our soldiers either. To date, no gay dudes have been caught on international flights trying to ignite their shoes.

In short, Prager equates a metaphorical war with a literal one and not once does he distinguish between the two. Moreover these are by no means “the same war.” And to say so is to practice precisely the sort of moral equivalence we complain about when it comes from the left. As much as I disagree with them, it is no more fair or accurate to say that gay marriage activists are trying to “destroy” America than it is to say that conservative activists are from “the Taliban wing” of the Republican Party (never mind all the Bush=Hitler nonsense). If it’s wrong when Bob Herbert says that cutting back on on a remedial reading program at a public university amounts to “ethnic cleansing” it’s just as wrong for Dennis Prager to say that peaceful — but wrong — leftwingers are largely indistinguishable from people who would use nuclear weapons on us if they could (he’s also wrong to say only leftwingers support gay marriage). The difference is that I expect such silliness from Bob Herbert.

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