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Michael Kinsley famously said that a political gaffe is “when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” The important part of that quip is that the truth is obvious but everyone pretends otherwise. The word for it is mokita, which means things we know are true but agree to never discuss. It is not really an agreement, but more of a convention that is enforced from the top down. Every once in a while, someone with power screws up and speak the truth.
That is what you see with this recent Dennis Prager column. He declared that anyone questioning the current facts about the holocaust is evil. He specifically singled out Nick Fuentes, who has been in the news because of the Kanye West business. The two of them have been making the rounds, with West saying uncharitable things about Jewish people and saying nice things about Hitler. Fuentes has been mostly a bit player in the show, as West is the headliner of Ye24.
Why Prager singled out Fuentes would be a good question to pose to him. Kanye West is the guy praising Hitler. Milo Yiannopoulos was instrumental in kicking off this traveling carnival, but Prager did not mention him. Another player in this drama is a hip-hop performer named Sneako. They recently added the weird internet gadfly Ali Alexander to the performance. Fuentes is the only white Christian in the crew and not the main player, yet Prager focuses on him.
Putting aside that bit of mask dropping, Prager has made himself rich selling creedalism to the salt of the earth white people who make up his audience. This is the claim that anyone can be an American as long as they embrace American principles. If you accept the basics of the American creed, then you are as American as a guy whose family came over on the Mayflower. America is an idea, or a collection of ideas, rather than a physical place for a specific people.
Lots of white people are flattered by this, but most people also notice that the people peddling this idea tend to take Saturday off. It is not a coincidence that this new definition of American has no benefit to white Christians but is a huge bonus to mercurial people from outside the European Christian tradition. Prager is one of the leading advocates “America is a set of ideas’ and most people understand why, even if they politely ignore the elephant in the room.
One of those creedal ideas is freedom of expression. In fact, it is one of the most cherished principles of American morality. The right to speak one’s mind without fear of retribution is the cornerstone of the republic. Not only do you get to say what you like, but others get to hear you without fear of retribution. Free speech is established in the first amendment to the Constitution because you cannot petition the government for the redress of grievances if you need permission to speak.
Until the last decade or so, “I may disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it!” was a common refrain from leftists. Most right-wing people knew that what lefty really wanted was the right to send porn to your kids, but the civic principle was worth the risk and the lecture. You cannot have self-government and a civil society without the free exchange of ideas. More speech, even stupid or obnoxious speech, is better than less speech.
It was not just sloganeering. In 1978, the ACLU defended a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through a Jewish neighborhood. There was no question that the intent of the neo-Nazi group was to be offensive. They picked the neighborhood for their march because it was full of Jews. The ACLU successfully argued that even though the Nazis picked the neighborhood because it was full of Jews, they still had a right to speak their mind in public and the public had a right to hear them.
Foundational to American morality is that you are free to speak your mind not because you have the right to speak, but because others have the right to hear you. Shouting people down is explicitly un-American. You let the person be heard and then you can be heard in response. This is the exact opposite of what Dennis Prager is doing with regards to people like Nick Fuentes. He wants Nick Fuentes to be silenced, so you cannot hear what he has to say for himself.
Prager is careful to not call for the arrest and execution of Nick Fuentes, but it is clear that he would not be offended by it. After all, Prager declares that questioning the holocaust is the epitome of evil. Those who do this, according to Prager, will spend eternity in Hell. Given his cult’s ambiguity about the existence of Heaven and Hell, this is a curious claim. It means that he wants you to believe that holocaust deniers like Nick Fuentes are outside of your Christian mercy.
That is what makes the Prager column a massive gaffe. He is essentially saying, “That civic nationalism stuff applies to you people, but my people have other priorities and so we get to operate by separate rules.” By elevating his Jewish identity over everything else, he contradicts the entire civic nationalist argument. Again, this was obvious to many people, but it largely went unsaid. By demanding everyone submit to the myths and legends of his people, Prager is saying it out loud.
The column itself is a remarkable example of Kinsley’s quip. The truth is, in a majority-minority society like America, what matters is your tribe. This is the truth that the people in charge are not supposed to say. They get to be in charge as long as the biggest tribe does not decide to tribe up. The minoritism that rules modern America only works if white people buy into the creedalism stuff. Dennis Prager just told his fans that creedalism is nonsense. It is tribe that matters most.
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