This episode covers Dennis Prager and his online "university" PragerU, which consists of five-minute YouTube videos by thought leaders such as Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), and Ben Shapiro.
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First of all, who is Dennis Prager? Since we’re fair and balanced on None Dare Call It Ordinary, we didn’t go to some libtard rag to tell us who Dennis Prager is and what he stands for. We went right to the source! According to his official website’s biography page there’s a list of blurbs telling us about the man, and they give us a truly wonderful sense of his humble nature,
An amazingly gifted man and moralist whose mission in life has been crystallized – ‘to get people obsessed with what is right and wrong.’
One of the ten most powerful people in Los Angeles. . . a moral compass.
One of America’s five best speakers.
Getting back to official bio, we’re told that Dennis is a true Renaissance Man. He speaks Russian and Hebrew and has given lectures in both Russia and Israel. He’s written five books, one of which is comprised of 44 of his essays. He went through the Bible verse-by-verse in lectures he gave spanning from 1992 to 2006. Oh, and just to get a sense of what a great use of your time his five part “Rational Bible” series is, just the portion on the book of Exodus alone is on 14 CDs, clocking in at nearly 17 hours.
Here’s one I didn’t see coming: Prager co-wrote a short film called For Goodness Sake Part 2 which was directed by South Park co-creator Trey Parker. Prager even wrote articles for our official sponsors, The Weekly Standard. Or, at least the remnants of The Weekly Standard. In his off-time, Prager also apparently conducts orchestras playing classical music.
But of all these amazing abilities and feats of genius, his crowning achievement is clearly Prager University,
In 2011, Dennis co-founded with Allen Estrin, Prager University, an institution of higher learning on the Internet with a unique difference – all the courses are five minutes long. The courses distill the best ideas of the best minds in the world and cover the disciplines of Political Science, History, Philosophy/Religion, Economics and Psychology. The faculty includes Paul Johnson, George Gilder, Arthur Brooks, Peter Kreeft and many others.
Who are some of these best minds? Here’s a list from a quick first glance at all the videos on the PragerU YouTube channel:
Jordan Peterson, professional lobster. But really, if you don’t know who he is, count yourself super fucking lucky. He can be best described as Joseph Campbell meets Tony Robbins meets Deepak Chopra meets EO Wilson meets Terrence McKenna meets Mark Levin meets Buddha.
Steve Bannon, who was Donald Trump’s former 2016 campaign manager and chief strategist at the White House, enough said.
Michelle Malkin, who once wrote a book called The Case for Internment, an explicitly pro-racial profiling tract which claimed FDR rounding up innocent Japanese Americans and putting them into concentration camps was totally cool, and that we might as well do the same thing to people that look like they’re from the middle east.
Paul Joseph Watson, deplatformed and replatformed Infowars and Prison Planet conspiracy theorist.
Carl Benjamin, self-described left wing liberal that also happens to pal around with far-right lunatics.
Dave Rubin: if you want to know more about him, I recommend you follow @dave_rube on Twitter, where you can simultaneously learn everything you need to about the real Dave Rubin, who’s a walking self-parody, whilst still supporting None Dare Call It Ordinary!
Donald Trump Jr. (Enough said)
Candace Owens, who said nationalist extremist of the National Socialist party, one Adolf Hitler, you might have heard of him, wasn’t a nationalist after all, but was rather a “globalist” -- that’s a plot twist I bet you guys didn’t see coming!
Tucker Carlson: If you have’t heard of this very obscrue individual, he’s like hybrid Frankenstein monster hodgepodge of socialist, isolationist, neoconservative, white supremacist, and capitalist ideologies -- oh, and he has the one of the most watched pundit shows on network television
Charlie Kirk, Hitler Youth... no... I meant Trump Youth... I’m sorry, Conservative Youth organizer.
Miluakee Sheriff David Clarke, who once deprived an inmate suffering from bi-polar disorder from drinking water for seven days, resulting in his death -- oh, and he was once tapped by Donald Trump to be assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, and was even floated as a possible replacement for James Comey to head the FBI.
And last but not least, Ben Shapiro. And if you don’t know who he is, I suggest that’s a you problem.
Alright, so now we have a sense of some of the high level important geniuses you’ll meet at PragerU. But what’s the curriculum like? Can I earn a degree there? Again from the Mother Jones article,
At PragerU, police are not biased against black men, and man-made climate change is debatable. You’ll find takes on animal rights (against), the $15 minimum wage (against), the gender wage gap (doesn’t exist), and why the South turned Republican (nothing to do with race). Prager has hosted a few dozen videos himself, including “Just Say ‘Merry Christmas,'” his take on the “war on Christmas” genre, and “He Wants You,” an apologia for men who ogle women.
Of this “University’s” origins, Mother Jones reports,
The spark for PragerU actually came from Estrin, a former screenwriter on TV shows like The Practice and Touched by an Angel. In 2001, Prager hired him to produce his radio program. Seven years later, during a promotional cruise on the Indian Ocean, some of Prager’s listeners approached his lieutenant to suggest that Prager start his own university. Estrin was skeptical. “It was too daunting,” he recalls. But then “I had a revelation that rather than try to build a building, we should do a virtual university.
Okay, so it’s not a University, and there’s no degree. It’s just a collection of YouTube videos.
Why Dennis Prager Became a Conservative
Strangely enough, Dennis Prager actually voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976. As he explains,
I voted Democrat through Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976. He was the last Democrat for which I voted. Obviously, I underwent an intellectual change. And it wasn’t easy.. Becoming a Republican was emotionally and psychologically like converting to another religion. In fact, when I first voted Republican I felt as if I had abandoned the Jewish people. To be a Jew meant being a Democrat. It was that simple. It was — and remains — that fundamental to many American Jews’ identity. Therefore, it took a lot of thought to undergo this conversion. I had to understand both liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I have spent a lifetime in a quest to do so.
What was this conversion like? Prager explains that the most compelling reason to become a conservative is due to the fact that they don’t buy into the hippie-dippy delusion of the myth of the innate goodness of mankind, a philosophical underpinning that can only lead to ruin,
Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed — not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. This [is] [sic] so important to understanding the left-right divide because so many fundamental left-right differences emanate from this divide. Perhaps the most obvious one is that conservatives blame those who engage in violent criminal activity for their behavior more than liberals do... Material poverty doesn’t cause murder, rape or terror. Moral poverty does. That’s one of the great divides between left and right. And it largely emanates from their differing views about whether human nature is innately good.”
Dave Rubin, “Why I Left the Left”
With that little philosophical interlude out of the way, let’s get onto the fun stuff. And one of those very fun things is a PragerU video called, “Why I Left the Left”, starring everyone’s favorite classical liberal/crypto-facist platformer, Dave Rubin. Despite Prager believing classical liberalism is a foolhardy philosophy based upon a grave error in understanding human nature, as we just went over, that doesn’t change the fact that, at this University, he’s gonna allow Dave Rubin to try to persuade you to adopt the philosophy of classical liberalism. And one reason for why this might be allowed is because the term ‘classical liberal’ has been recently drained of any meaning by Internet grifters,
Progressives used to say, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” Not anymore.. If you’re black, or female, or Muslim, or Hispanic, or a member of any other minority group, you’re judged differently than the most evil of all things: a white, Christian male... Today’s progressivism has become a faux-moral movement, hurling charges of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and a slew of other meaningless buzzwords at anyone they disagree with...The battle of ideas has been replaced by a battle of feelings, and outrage has replaced honesty. Diversity reigns supreme – as long as it’s not that pesky diversity of thought...I can no longer call myself a progressive. I don’t really call myself a Democrat either. I’m a classical liberal. A free thinker. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, defending my liberal values has suddenly become a conservative position...
It turns out that there may be some method to the madness of depleting the term “classical liberal” of all meaning. As The Mother Jones Article puts it the videos are,
...engineered to sway those in the mushy middle, especially young people trying to figure out what they stand for. Prager’s radio show has about 2 million weekly listeners (to Rush Limbaugh’s 14 million), but PragerU’s appeal goes well beyond the graying talk-radio audience. More than 60 percent of its viewers are younger than 35, according to YouTube analytics...
It’s been estimated that,
100 million individuals—almost one-third of the US population—have watched at least part of a PragerU video via Facebook, where the organization has more than 2.8 million followers….
By meeting young people on their own turf—social media, smartphones—and addressing them amiably, Prager manages to deliver conservative thought in a package even Never Trumpers are willing to open.”
The PragerU strategy is very much like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Cambridge Analytica, on behalf of the 2016 Trump campaign, used artificial intelligence and harvested Facebook data to predict which undecided and liberal-leaning voters could be swayed to vote for Trump. From a Guardian piece on the subject,
Using Facebook itself, advertisers are limited to broad demographic strokes, and a few narrower algorithmically determined categories – whether you like jazz music, say, or what your favourite sports team is. But with 253 further predictions, Cambridge Analytica could, [ex-employee Chris] Wylie says, craft adverts no one else could: a neurotic, extroverted and agreeable Democrat could be targeted with a radically different message than an emotionally stable, introverted, intellectual one, each designed to suppress their voting intention – even if the same messages, swapped around, would have the opposite effect...
The actual issues, for Wylie, are simply the “plain white toast” of politics, waiting for the actual flavour to be loaded on. “No one wants plain white toast.” The job of the data, he says, is to “learn the particular flavour or spice” that will make that toast appealing.”
And so it is with PragerU that it’s all about the flavoring, not the white toast, that makes all the difference.
Will Witt, “The Government Can’t Solve Climate Change”
A good instance of how flavoring is used to sway these unsuspecting sub-35 year olds is found in the PragerU video, “The Government Can’t Solve Climate Change”, where a very liberal looking dude -- in fact, he looks a bit like Brent -- tells us that anthropogenic climate change is of course real (even though, he says, he gets a lot of flack for it)... but that the free market, yes that same free market we went over in our Crypto Craziness series, is the obvious solution,
When it comes to actually saving the environment or saving the planet, politicians and government bureaucrats are probably the worst people to do that. Look at the EPA, just a few hours from here in Durango, about three years ago, the EPA spilled a million gallons of waste into the Animas River. It was an environmental disaster… and think about how they handled the money, right?
He then goes into a tirade about the Solyndra scandal -- Sean Hannity’s favorite punching bag -- all the predictions that Al Gore got wrong, and anecdotes of environmentally friendly free market practices. But I won’t waste any more of your time. Suffice to say, the point of PragerU isn’t to reinforce the beliefs of your standard 70 year old talk radio listener, it’s to remold the malleable brains of young people with liberal instincts to adopt conservative beliefs.
By affirming the existence of anthropogenic climate change, and addressing you with an amiable, young, liberal-looking guy, a susceptible, young, liberal-leaning person might very well take the bait and get hooked into conservativism without even knowing it.
Just remember: the guy talking to you through YouTube isn’t some ideological conservative bully trying to deny science and talk about how God promised Noah that he’d never destroy the earth again or whatever such nonsense that a cool, progressive, hip, 20-something young man would buy into. No! Rather, this cool guy is giving you real world examples of EPA mis-mangement! Yo, FACTS and LOGIC! That’s all!
Candace Owens Interviews Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad)
No better example of this kind of trickery can be found than the character of Carl Benjamin, also known by his Internet goon alias “Sargon of Akkad”. At first glance, Benjamin doesn’t strike you are a far-right loon. He speaks with a soothing British accent and he seems jolly enough. One thinks this is just an intelligent young fellow that’s simply had it with blue haired college kids going too far. He’s just a principled individual that wants to bring liberalism back its roots. Or is he? Benjamin was interviewed by Candace Owens in one of these wonderful PragerU videos, and in just watching the trailer for the interview, two things stick out: he assures us that British society is so authoritarian that even “class clowns” like himself are being targeted (whatever that means), and that the recent uptick in neo-Nazism terror attacks is the direct result of deplatforming far right lunatics on social media, thereby depriving them of an outlet to voice their “concerns”.
Like Dave Rubin, Carl Benjamin identifies himself as a “classical liberal”, even though he supposedly hates identity politics of all stripes. Indeed he goes to great lengths to assure you he’s totally a liberal, despite his frequent associations with the far-right, even joining the far-right UKIP party in the UK with far-right idealogues Milo Yiannapolous and Paul Joseph Watson. It turns out that UKIP became so extreme and went so far to the right -- and even fascistic -- that it even alienated UKIP founder Nigel Farage, uber far-right founding father of Brexit. But again, despite a lot of far-right associations... just remember... Carl is a liberal.
Alright, so at this point, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what Prager University is. It’s a way to rebrand the same bullshit we’ve heard for decades on talk radio in a hip, cool, and obfuscatory way that will appeal to millennials and generation Z, whilst also perhaps inadvertently serving as a gateway drug for the harder conspiracy stuff and, ultimately, the alt-right.
Candace Owens Interviews Steve Bannon
So what else can we learn from this collection of YouTube videos, er, I mean, University? In an Candace Owens hosted interview with Steve Bannon, Bannon tells us, citing a whole bunch of supposed experts, quote,
If you try to avoid the cartels to get into the United States, they will kill you on the Mexican side.
Candace Owens follows that up with,
So you’re saying that the people coming over this border are cartel approved?
Yes, the cartels are basically taking their money. And that’s how the cartels have a monopoly on it. Look, we’ve had people from Juarez come and thank us for building this wall!
Stephen Marmer, “Why You Need to Be Tough”
In a YouTube video titled “Why You Need to Be Tough”, we are shown psychiatrist Stepehen Marmer talking about how you’ve gotta man up, accept the word as it is, and build resilience. His pep talk is juxtaposed to that famous video of that stereotypical SJW type screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” At Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Candace Owens Interviews David Clarke
The totalitarian left has taken control of speech. Okay? They have cornered the market on it. They control the language. What you can and can’t say. You can’t say, “It’s weird, you can’t do this’. You have to call it “this”. If you control the language, you control the narrative.
Ben Shapiro, “Why Has the West Been So Successful?”
One of my all-time favorite videos of PragerU comes from Ben “Sounds Like a ‘You’ Problem” Shapiro which is called, “Why Has the West Been So Successful?” After brushing off war, genocide, slavery, and enviornmental destruction -- which Shapiro says are just par for the course in human history, after all -- what makes the west unique, according to Shapiro, is that ONLY in the west can there be found, within a meaningfully large scope and scale, the following: the abolition of slavery, religious tolerance, universal human rights, and the scientific method.
All disagreements put aside, I’d say Shapiro has at least a semi-decent point here. After all, the Age of Enlightenment happened in the west. Thomas Jefferson, Issac Newton, John Locke, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin were all western thinkers that dramatically changed the face of the world, and arguably in more ways than just about any other human beings in history.
But not so fast. It’s not the Age of Enlightenment, according to Shapiro, that’s the true secret sauce, as it were, to the west’s success. It can ultimately be traced back to two sources which are, he admits, seemingly very much at odds with each other. But it turns out that, like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. First, there’s ancient Greece. Shapiro tells us,
Greek thinking posits that we only know truth by what we observe, test, and measure. It is not faith, but fact, that drives our understanding and exploration of the universe.
That’s great and all, except for the fact that this isn’t even remotely true. Plato, Pythagoras, and Socrates were rationalists, who believed true knowledge was gained through doing the exact opposite of observing, testing, and measuring, a.k.a. empiricism. And when it came to Aristotle, he kinda waffled back and forth from being a rationalist and an empiricist. Maybe being a pseudo-empiricist at best.
In fact, the earliest forms of empiricism in any systematic sense can be said to possibly come from the East. For example, in the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vaiseshika, according to Wikipedia,
The epistemology of Vaiśeṣika school of Hinduism… accepted only two reliable means to knowledge: perception and inference…
[Perception] is of two types: external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind…
This example is way closer to empiricist principles than anything the major Greek philosophers came up with. Indeed, it’s not until the sixteenth century where you get anything like our modern sense of empiricism with the likes of Francis Bacon. And it’s not until later on in the eighteenth century with Locke, Hume, and Berkley, and in the nineteenth century with John Stuart Mill, that you get your raw, unadulterated empiricism.
Alright, so Ben Shapiro is already off to a bad start, and we’ve barely dug into the video! Anyway, the other source of our wisdom is -- and did I really need to tell you? -- our Judeo-Christian heritage, duh! In the world of Shapiro’s cartoonish caricatures of ancient Athens and ancient Jerusalem, striking the right balance between faith and reason is desperately needed, lest you become a Communist revolutionary or a member of ISIS,
Without Judeo-Christian values, we fall into scientific materialism—the belief that physical matter is the only reality, and therefore also fall into nihilism—the belief that life has no meaning, that we're merely stellar dust in a cold universe. Without Greek reason, we fall into fanaticism—the belief that fundamentalist adherence to unprovable principles represents the only path toward meaning. The Soviet Union, Communist China and other socialist tyrannies rejected faith and murdered 100 million people in the 20th century.
I know this has been said before by others ad nauseum, but it’s worth repeating: the Communist tyrannies didn’t kill people specifically in the name of atheism. Even though they promoted official state atheism and persecuted religious people, it’s an oversimplification to say their driving motivation was the lack of belief in a deity. Rather, they killed so-called “class enemies” in the name of revolutionary socialism, which happened to include religious institutions. And the cult-like allegiance to the Dear Leader and dogmatic adherence to narrow interpretations of socialist political philosophy certainly wasn’t reason or evidence based, but totally faith based.
Much of the modern Muslim world has embraced faith but rejected reason. It's noteworthy that when the Muslim world did embrace Greek reason, from the 8th to the 14th centuries, it was a leading center for scientific advancement.
So, again, we need both—Jerusalem and Athens. Revelation and reason. And yet, many want to reject both. These people call themselves "progressives."”
So, in summary: blind devotion to the celestial dictator must be balanced with an incorrect understanding of Ancient Greek philosophy, or else you’ll become a Communist jihadist. Rejecting this line of thought is regressive. Thank you Prager University.