Dennis Prager: Suffering From Talking Ass Syndrome

So we’re back to this.  Kinda comforting actually.

Dennis Prager in a column for Townhall.com comes out with the time tested critique that the world doesn’t hate America, just the left.  And while a small part of me might be just the slightest bit up in arms over this, a far greater portion of me takes solace in knowing there are still wingnuts out there repeating the same old talking points about how much we liberals hate America, and then using flimsy proof if any as well as addled logic to prove their point.

It’s like comfort food without all that fattening… food.

The thing that stands up and smacks you in the face about Prager’s claims is the fact that he provides no substantial proof of them whatsoever.  The closest he manages to come is by offering logical evidence that does not even stand up to modest logical scrutiny.

Meanwhile, he seems to willingly ignore boat loads of evidence that stand contrary to his claims.  Take for instance this New York Times editorial:

The central finding of the latest Pew global opinion poll is, alas, drearily familiar: President Bush and his misguided war in Iraq have dragged the United States far, far down in the world’s eyes.

The only good news — and it’s not much comfort — is that most countries give higher ratings to the American people than to the country. That means a change of government could bring a change of attitude toward America. But there is a long way to go, especially to correct the perception that the United States promotes its values globally not because they are universally good, but because they are good for American interests.

The survey found that majorities or pluralities in 33 of the 47 countries polled expressed a dislike of American ideas about democracy, with the hostility highest in three allies: Turkey, France and Pakistan. The poll also showed a widespread perception that Washington acts without considering the interests of other countries. And strong majorities everywhere saw the United States as the worst culprit in “hurting the world’s environment.”

What the Pew poll reflects is a profound disappointment in America’s failure to live up to its own ideals and standards.

Oops, that comes from the “liberal media” that Prager faults for the illusion that so many people hate America.  I guess we have to throw that out.

But even throwing this little nugget of information out doesn’t do much to bolster the heart of Dennis’ claims.  For instance, he sites as a clear refutation of French disdain for American policies the fact that the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy won the most recent presidential election in France.  Sarkozy is a conservative lover of America, therefore everyone in France who voted for him must also be America lovers.

Only, a Gallup poll taken just earlier this year provides data that strongly opposes this concept.  According to a poll taken between December of last year and January of this year, French disapproval of US policies stood at 78% while approval of the US was at a dismal 9%.

Now, I probably didn’t pay as much attention to the French presidential election as I should have (that is to say, ANY attention), but I don’t think you need a doctorate in political science to conclude that at least some people voted for Sarkozy because of his approval of the US.  No, I think it is pretty common that there are a multitude of reasons why people vote for a candidate, and some of those reasons may have little to do with the strength of the candidate as they do with the weakness of the opposition.

And thus we find Prager sticking to Western Europe, a region that has been historically friendlier to the United States than many other regions, you know, regions such as the Middle East and the greater Muslim world.

It is important to understand that in many of the states that make up the Muslim world, we’re not talking about the left here, but instead a blatantly ultra conservative culture.  Now if we are to follow Prager’s logic, being conservative grants them a natural prediliction to be approving of Bush’s America.

But wait, no, sorry, I got some polling data that disproves that as well.  Though a year old, I think it is still relevant to note that Zogby found that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon all continue to show extremely high unfavorable ratings with the trend analysis not looking too terribly good for America.

What gives?  Well, aside from the label of “conservative” that’s about the only thing that these peoples might share with the Bush administration, which brings us back to France, and Dennis’ argument.

The crux of his argument is that America is good because it is conservative and everyone who isn’t a bleeding heart sees this and therefore all conservatives must necessarily not hate America despite what we rabid lefties think and print.  The primary fault in this is the adoption of an ideology as a justification.

Just like I often times agree with my fellow leftists, liberals, and progressives, not all conservatives agree.  Also, the label of conservatism is itself suspect given that Bush and the neoconservative agenda fueling American foreign policy is itself a poor standard bearer of traditional conservatism.

Thus, France can trend conservative, but because America’s current brand of conservatism is itself not very conservative but something wholely different, there can still be a rift in Franco-American relations.  Likewise, just because the Bush government might be conservative, and the Islamic governments could fall under the same label, the fact that the cultures and policies are often at odds with each other’s specific interests, there will still be tension between the two sides.

In other words, Prager makes the foolish mistake of thinking that ideological boundaries of opinion are the only ones that matter.

And now comes time for the $64,000 question.  What’s the big deal?

Prager’s assertions stem from drawing battle lines according to ideological make up, a dangerously foolish practice for it simplifies necessary complexity.  His efforts to score one for his “side” omits necessary details required to fully grasp the scope of global affairs and is indicative of the wrong headed policies that have, contrary to his belief, actually reduced America’s standing in the world.

He tells himself, and us, that we are right, and everyone except the power hungry liberals throughout the world know this.  Not being able to see the state of things as they really are as opposed to how we may wish they were is bad enough.  But even worse, proceeding under a shroud of arrogance that we are perpetually on the right side of the argument at all times stops us from asking the question that is most important in all endeavors.

What are we doing wrong?

Without that single sentiment of introspection, improvement can never be made.  How can we strive to do better if we are already operating under the belief that whatever we do is inherently right?  And how catastrophic a failure must be made before we realize that as tempting as these rose colored snapshots may be, they are in fact wrong?

Yes, Dennis Prager is talking out of his ass in the hopes of scoring a couple of points for his team.  We all do from time to time.  But in this case, throw out the ideological divide, through out the difference in policies, and you are still left with someone who would have us carry on blindfolded.

Even if it means walking us straight off a cliff.

One Response to “Dennis Prager: Suffering From Talking Ass Syndrome”

  1. Mark says:

    So, you would agree with me that Clown Hall is about the best source a blogger can have? Seriously, whenever I’m lacking something to write about, my first stop is almost always Town Hall. There’s alway something over that is just totally bizarre. I’d say this Prager column takes the cake, but that’s a really high bar. Kevin McCullough the other day was writing about how plaintiffs in no-fault divorce cases should automatically lose custody rights- that one was really strange.

    Anywho- I’m assuming Prager’s never been abroad. I can assure you that Republican policy when it comes to international relations are less than popular, even for right of center voters (although most Austrians still adore the Governator- but that’s a different story altogether). Of course, Sarkozy was elected almost entirely due to domestic economic issues, thanks to the sorry state of the French economy. He sure as hell wasn’t voted in because the French suddenly wanted to support the Iraq war. He also, by the way, had the support of Jacque Chirac.

    Americans on the left and right tend to reduce foreign politics to whether or not a candidate is pro-US or anti-US, as if relations with the US are the only factor in any election. Fact is, they are usually only one factor out of many. That, by the way, is why Howard won in 2004 in Australia; believe me the Aussies were not exactly pro-Bush; they just liked how things were going in their everyday lives. In the case of Aznar, the likelihood is that he was defeated more because of his involvement in Iraq than because of the subway bombings. Or, I should say, the Spanish people largely blamed his involvement in Iraq for the subway bombings.

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