September 15, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Dennis Prager: Fool or Tool?

Forgive me for joining Dov Bear in piling on the latest from former Jewish author and thinker Dennis Prager. I qualify the word with former, because as we'll see, his latest piece, The feminization of society: Judeo-Christian values: part XXII, can't be fairly said to be either Jewish or thought

I think it's worth picking apart a few paragraphs, because Prager's fallacious argument is typical of those that convince 40% of the American public that George Bush is doing a better job as president than would be carried out by your average supermarket check-out clerk.

Herewith, Dannis Prager:

As a result of the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, we are witnessing the ascendance of the feminine in Western society.

Seems like a simple sentence. Let's count the assumptions:

  1. There is such a thing as Judeo-Christian values
  2. Said values have been repudiated
  3. There is such a thing as the feminine
  4. There is such a thing as Western society
  5. The feminine is becoming ascendant in Western society
  6. Said ascendance is a result of the repudiation of the aforementioned values
  7. (implied: ) Said ascendance is A Bad Thing
Now, given that this is part XXII of presumably a DCXIII part series (assuming my recollection of of the Latin-Roman values is correct), I'll give him a pass on #1, and #2.and even #3. But he sure is making a lot of claims. Let's see if any hold up.
There are two reasons for this.
I assume that "this" means the causal connection between the repudiation of JChristian values, and the ascendance of the feminism.
One is the overriding belief in equality, which to those who reject Judeo-Christian values means sameness. Judeo-Christian values emphatically affirm the equality of the sexes.
Prager apparently wants to have his equality and beat it too. There is a bad equality, meaning sameness. And a good equality, apparently a homonym meaning something different.

So, what is the Good Equality of Moses and Jesus?

In fact, given that the creation story in Genesis proceeds from primitive to elevated, the last creation, woman, can easily be seen as the most elevated of the creations.
Oh. So for Prager, "equality" means "elevation." Judeao-Prager equality and post-Christian equality are apparently not just homonyms, but antonyms. It's enough to make a man want to either cleave to his wife, or put a cleaver to Prager's head.

But besides the linguistic nonsense, it's worth noting that for Prager, two religions is apparently worse than one, because he misreads Bereshit something awful. Genesis one, the hierarchal order of creation, makes men and women simultaneously: zachar v'nkevia bara otam, b'tzelem elohim bara otam. Genesis 2 creates the woman second, but leaves out the great chain of being.

If you really want to explore and think about Judeo-Rabbinic views on this topic, check out the relevant Gemara toward the end of Berachot, particularly as masterly explicated by Rachel Adler in her Engendering Judaism Put simply, it's not that the Talmud is necessarily opposed to equality; it's just that the idea makes the stam's head explode.

Every man knows how much a good woman helps him transcend his animal nature.
Wow. The universalizing "every" is balanced by the minimizing "how much" and set off by the rather ambiguous "a ... woman".

Do I know how much my wife helps me transcend my animal nature? Is that her goal or mine in this marriage?

And does David Souter really know how much a good woman would help him transcend his animal nature? Is this sentence to ridiculous for words?

I'm going to stop here, after a mere two paragraphs of Pragerisms. Examined closely, Pragerism is more an illusion of argument designed to convince the supportive reader that he is a lone standout defending embattled "Judeo-Christianity" against its evil, female repudiaters, than it is enough of an argument to even look up the logical fallacies. Stay tuned for more....


Oy, my aching head. (Re Prager: But, hey, if you're a pundit, like a shark you have to keep moving.) I can tell you're enjoying this stuff. Shabbat Shalom.

Posted by: David H. at September 16, 2005 10:11 AM
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