- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
To “liberals”, “progressives”, or “Leftists,” as Dennis Prager calls them in his new book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Succeed” (Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, 448 pages, notes, addendum, index, $26.99) the idea that America is special is repugnant.
Joining such appreciative foreigners as Canadian Mark Steyn and Dutchman Geert Wilders, Prager says the world must choose between American values or its two oppositional alternatives: Islamism and European-style democratic socialism that he says is heartily embraced by American Leftists.
I recently reviewed Wilders’s “Marked for Death” which has a foreword by Mark Steyn (link:http://www.huntingtonnews.net/30660).
The May 1, 2012 review elicited comments from 9 readers — far more than any recent review. Some of the comments were approving, while others said that Islam is the religion of peace, that Christians killed more people, that atheists like Stalin and Hitler were bigger mass murderers — and don’t forget the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. The approving comments praised Wilders for standing up to the rising tide of European Islamists, who want to import their sharia law and barbaric customs like honor killings to Europe — and America and Canada.
Mark Steyn’s “After America”, reviewed last December (link: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/15535) makes many of the same arguments that Prager presents: That big government statism, political correctness, European welfare states, no criticism of Islam are desirable, while attacking Christianity and Judaism — and the demonization of America and Israel — are acceptable. I recommend both Steyn’s and Wilders’s books for people with open minds.
Prager’s “Still the Best Hope” presents and expands upon three important themes:
The first is perhaps the most persuasive explanation for why Leftism has been and will always be a moral failure, despite its acknowledged appeal to many people of good will.
The second explains why fundamentalist Islam, despite its historic and growing appeal, cannot make a good society. But Prager holds out hope for an open and tolerant Islam and explains why it will emerge from faithful American Muslims. He even names two Muslims who’ve bravely spoken out against the intolerance of much of mainstream Islam in the U.S. and abroad.
The third is a singularly persuasive defense and explanation of what Prager calls the “American Trinity”: liberty, values rooted in the Creator, and the melting-pot ideal. These values are inscribed on every American coin as “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum,” and they are the reasons for America’s greatness. Without them, America will cease to be an exceptional nation, and therefore cease to be America.
Readers should read and consider the ideas presented in this important book, but for those in a hurry in this age of Twitter, the above referenced “addendum” presents a chart comparing and contrasting American/conservative values and Liberal/Leftist ones on a wide variety of subjects, including abortion, the death penalty for murder, teen-age sex, the family, the state, etc., etc.
Prager — a bestselling author, columnist, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host who is read and heard by millions of people in America and abroad — says, that despite its flaws, the American value system as the most viable program ever devised to produce a good society.
Millions of people have chosen to immigrate to the United States to thrive and prosper, to escape religious oppression. I live in a part of Texas that had a port of entry, Indianola, for Germans and Czechs who came to the state to escape religious oppression by their fellow Christians.
These immigrants, plus a substantial number of Jews, were welcomed to the state and contributed mightily to the state. No churches were torched, as has occurred with increasing frequency recently in Islamist countries like Egypt and Nigeria. Jews were encouraged to settle in towns like Brenham and Boerne and other places to build their synagogues — something that could never happen in Saudi Arabia or Yemen. The vast state of Texas — as big as France and Belgium combined — was thinly populated and welcomed immigrants.
Prager says American universities, with a few exceptions, have become seminaries of Leftism, where values that a majority of Americans are denigrated. The news media is also dominated by leftists, he says, products of the universities who value world government over the American nation. A cult of victimization has replaced self-reliance and brainwashing is the norm.
As a veteran newsman, I can attest to much of what Prager says. Most news people are Leftists, bleeding heart liberals, if you will. If you want to find coverage of Islamic attacks on churches in Egypt or Nigeria, you’ll look in vain in much of the mainstream media sites. I’ve discovered a site, www.aina.org, run by Assyrian Christians, which covers such attacks. For instance, on very recent attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt, click on: http://www.aina.org/news/20120803185811.htm
Prager quotes (Page 209) a famous dissident saying from the former Soviet Union — a nation he visited frequently — that sounds like something from from Franz Kafka, Arthur Koestler or George Orwell: “In the Soviet Union the future is known; it’s the past that is always changing.”
He gives an example of Soviet rewriting of history: “Under Stalin, for instance, all references to Leon Trotsky’s seminal role in the Russian Revolution and the founding of the Communist Party were removed, as were all photographs of him. There is a photo of the early Bolsheviks in which the Soviet censors removed Trotsky, but failed to airbrush his shoes, from the photo. One sees Stalin standing next to a pair of shoes.”
This “airbrushing” of American history has been a frequent element of Leftist histories, including the popular Howard Zinn, mentioned on Pages 60-61 and elsewhere. Leftist historians have praised Democrats, ignoring the opposition of suffrage for women by Democrats and its support by Republicans during the Wilson Administration. Republicans like Everett McKinley Dirksen, from Illinois, were overwhelming supportive of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, while Democrats — including West Virginia’s sainted Robert C. Byrd — were against such measures advanced by President Lyndon B. Johnson. You didn’t know about these examples, amply documented by Prager? Blame it on the indoctrination by airbrushing college professors and left-wing journalists!
Isn’t Prager’s book an example of preaching to the choir, he suggests in the introduction. No, because most people weren’t taught the importance of American/Conservative values in the “seminaries of Leftism” that colleges and universities have become. American values, the best hope for mankind, must be learned and these values can and must be adopted by every nation and culture in the world, why Americans must relearn and recommit to these values, and why America must vigorously export them. For if the world does not adopt American values, the result will be chaos and barbarism on an unprecedented scale, he says.
Summing up: This is a very comprehensive book that should — along with books by Steyn and Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Magan Ali, and David Horowitz, and Steven Emerson — be read by everyone.
About the author
Dennis Prager is one of the most listened to and respected media personalities in America. He has a nationally syndicated radio talk show, is a bestselling author of four books, writes a syndicated column, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. A true Renaissance man, he has traveled to a hundred countries, lectured in Russian in Russia and Hebrew in Israel, taught Russian and Jewish history at Brooklyn College, conducted orchestras, and created the Internet-based Prager University. He has lectured in forty-five states and on all seven continents. His website:www.dennisprager.com.
Mission Statement from the publisher
Broadside Books is a pioneering new imprint of HarperCollins that specializes in conservative non-fiction writing, spanning the full range of serious right-of-center thought and opinion. Employing traditional print formats alongside a groundbreaking e-book series, the imprint seeks to create a forum for cutting-edge conservative ideas.
Publisher’s website: www.broadsidebooks.net.