New Prager University Video: What Matters Most

The latest from Prager University:

What’s the most important thing you can have? Is it money? Is it love? Is it happiness? Or is it something else? Best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio host Dennis Prager has the answer. It may change the way you look at and, ultimately, lead your life.

New from Prager University: Aznar on Europe, America and Israel

The latest from Prager University:

Do you want to know how Europeans think? Why not ask one of the most prominent Europeans in the world, former Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar? That’s what just we did. The conversation — his thoughts on Europe, America and Israel — is both fascinating and profound. 

Guns Don’t Kill People, Political Correctness Does

Teachers reprimanded two seven-year-old boys for playing army games – because it amounted to ‘threatening behaviour’.
The youngsters were disciplined after they were spotted making gun-shapes with their hands.

Staff at Nathaniel Newton Infant School in Nuneaton, Warks., even told the boys’ parents to ‘reprimand’ them.

A father of one of the boys said: ‘This is ridiculous. How can you tell a seven-year-old boy he cannot play guns and armies with his friends.
‘Another parent was called over for the same reason.

‘We were told to reprimand our son for this and to tell him he cannot play “guns” anymore.

Obviously, it must be made perfectly clear to kids that guns aren’t toys, and if a teacher sees signs that someone doesn’t get that, then intervention in what he’s doing during recess is probably in order. But you don’t need to crack down on perfectly innocent and natural children’s fantasies to get that message across, any more than teaching them auto safety by keeping them from pretending to be NASCAR drivers

What prevents kids from misusing either is instilling in them a much broader ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, as well as a basic respect for human life. The likelihood of misusing a gun isn’t an isolated issue that pops up in a vacuum. It’s either symptomatic of, or enabled by, broader problems that telling kids what they can’t play at recess just isn’t gonna solve, such as bad parents who don’t safely lock up their weapons or don’t teach their kids morality and responsibility.

Kids have always pretended to be cops or soldiers, and, the simple truth is that their primary purpose and characteristic of these institutions is protecting the rights of the community through lethal force, so if children are going to play army or police, then guns are going to be an unavoidable part of that scenario. And that’s not a bad thing. Because in the hands of the people these kids were emulating, guns aren’t intended to kill, but to protect. Children fantasizing about fighting fire with fire and standing up to genuine bad guys is not only natural, but healthy. 
Free societies need to pass a certain degree of fighting spirit, of warrior ethos, from one generation to the next – to venerate the fighting and punishing of evil, the willingness to fight and die if need be, etc. I’m not talking about anything close to Sparta-like indoctrination, but at the very least we shouldn’t be coming down on kids when their imaginations are captured by our society’s best and most vital role models.

Indeed, in their zeal to end “threatening behaviour” wherever it arises, the practical effect of such rules is more likely to be the message that military and police service aren’t something children should emulate or look up to, because they’re inherently “threatening” professions.

The Other McCain on Why "The Cosby Show" Rocked

Robert Stacy McCain uses an astonishingly-stupid remark by Katie Couric as a springboard for some great remarks on the value of Bill Cosby’s hit sitcom:

As a professional comedian and actor, of course, Cosby’s first consideration was to produce successful entertainment. Insofar as Cosby had any notion of racial consciousness-raising, however, I’m pretty sure his primary idea was to exemplify a model of bourgeois decency for the black community.

Here was a top-quality program by black people, about black people, for black people — an weekly show that held out to black Americans the same kind of corny old-fashioned middle-class family ideal once emboided by shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.

The Huxtables weren’t living in the projects and they weren’t speaking ghetto-inflected jive-talk. In fact, although this is sometimes forgotten, many liberals at the time criticized The Cosby Show as inauthentic and insufficiently relevant in addressing Serious Social Problems.

Yet the Huxtable family were about something very different than the kind of didactic issues-based “relevance” beloved by intellectuals. The Huxtables were reflecting the basic American values that Cosby cherishes, values that he dearly wants other black people to embrace, so as to get their own share of the American dream.

The fact that the show instantly became a mass-market success is, first and foremost, a tribute to Bill Cosby’s genius. But that success in itself undermines the idea that white people’s attitudes toward black people were, in 1984, the principle hindrance to black success. If white people were so ignorant and bigoted, why were they tuning in by the millions each week to watch Cosby?

Beyond the comedic brilliance of Cosby himself, some of the best parts of The Cosby Show were his periodic struggles — especially with son Theo — to get his kids to stay on the right path, and not to be lured into the “street” culture by peer pressure or trying to be “cool.”

This was, and remains, a particular problem that black parents have to deal with. Even though all parents have to deal with rebellious teens getting into trouble, the white suburban middle-class parent does not live in a world where the “troubled teen” routinely goes to prison or ends up shot dead. But these possibilities are a serious worry for many black parents. (To quote a black friend, concerned about gang activity in small-town schools: “We got out of the ghetto and we’re not going back. We sure as hell don’t want the ghetto coming here to get us.”)

Brief Observation: Ayn Rand vs. the Founding Fathers on Human Nature

Amit Ghate has a piece at Pajamas Media, using Ayn Rand to argue that reason is a superior foundation for morality than religion. I’d love to do a more thorough response to it if I wasn’t so busy right now (for those interested, here are parts One, Two, and Three of a debate I had on the subject with an atheist blogger a few years back); For the moment, one quick observation will have to suffice. (Usual disclaimer: I haven’t read Rand firsthand.)

Ghate approvingly cites Ayn Rand’s rejection of man’s fallen nature, saying Rand “sides with the giants of the Enlightenment in considering man to be morally perfectible.” However many Enlightenment thinkers may have believed man was “morally perfectible,” that was one aspect of Enlightenment thinking the American Founders didn’t put much stock in. To the extent that Rand disagrees with Publius on this point, she sides with Progressives.