Dennis Prager’s commentary is in high demand. His PragerU videos get millions of views on social media, and his audience is growing. But not everyone likes his message. He’s run into censorship trouble with YouTube, which led him to file a lawsuit. Our colleague Virginia Allen recently sat down with Prager, and today we’ll share that exclusive interview.
We’ll also share a brief conversation Kate Trinko had with Joanna Duke, the Christian wedding artist who recently won a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix.
We also cover these stories:
- Congress prepares to launch new sanctions on Turkey.
- Fort Worth police chief says there’s “absolutely no excuse” for black woman’s death.
- Attorney General William Barr blasts “militant secularists” in scathing Notre Dame address.
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Virginia Allen: I am joined on The Daily Signal Podcast by Dennis Prager, co-founder of Prager University, host of “The Dennis Prager Show,” and author of several books, including his most recent, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
Mr. Prager, thank you so much for joining us.
Dennis Prager: Thank you for having me.
Allen: All right, so let’s jump right in by talking for a moment about the history of Prager University. You co-founded PragerU in 2011 as a multimedia organization that would exist to articulate through video and Judeo-Christian values on which America was founded.
Those values that you really hoped to focus on were free speech, free enterprise, a moral foreign policy, and the rational case for God’s existence.
Why did you see the need for an organization like PragerU to exist? And did you ever think that it would be as successful as it has been?
Prager: Well, let me answer the second one first. That’s easy. Had somebody told me, “You will get a million views a year,” I would have said, I know me, “Wow, from your mouth to God’s ears.” Had somebody said 100 million, I wouldn’t have even said “From your mouth to God’s ears,” I would have said, “You’re out of your mind.”
Had they said a billion, I wouldn’t have even responded. I would’ve thought they were mocking me. But we get a billion views a year all over the world.
Just on my fireside chat alone, my weekly personal chat, aside from our weekly videos, I get 700,000 views. And I asked them to count how many mostly young people from foreign countries sent questions into me just on the fireside chat: 51 countries sent in questions, not just listened. And I know why. That’s to answer your first part.
The great tragedy of the last hundred years is that people in the West forgot how to make the case for the West, Americans forgot how to make the case for America, Christians forgot how to make the case for Christianity, Jews forgot how to make the case for Judaism, and Americans forgot how to make the case for Americanism. So we’re losing everybody.
The case has to be made every generation. Every generation is a tabula rasa, is a new clean slate. You don’t teach them this stuff. I’m not the first to say this. Even liberty. Liberty is a value, not an instinct. People don’t want liberty, they want to be taken care of. The American Revolution said, “No, take care of yourself, and your family, and your community.”
Allen: You have recently completed a documentary called “No Safe Spaces,” and the film examines how America has become a dangerous place for ideas. The film releases on Oct. 25 of this year. Can you share a little bit more about the movie and what you hope it achieves?
Prager: Yeah. This is a great movie, and you know, people will say, “Well, of course, he’s in it, of course he’ll say it.” That’s not true. I expected a good movie. I am in it, but I’m not the reason for its excellence. The people who made the movie did a great job.
I’ve seen it four times and I’m interested in a fifth time. That is how good it is. It is about the greatest threat to free speech in American history. We’re living through it right now. People don’t understand the significance of their own times, they usually need historians to tell them.
But let me tell all of your listeners, this is the first time in American history free speech is threatened. Really, really threatened. The campus is the most obvious example.
You will understand this threat, which is to liberalism as much as to conservatism. The left is a threat to liberalism. Liberals don’t know this, but it is. And this film, it’s not just a documentary, it’s a movie, [it] will make you cry and laugh because Adam Carolla inevitably makes you laugh. He’s just extremely funny.
Allen: I look forward to seeing it.
Prager: Oh, you will love it. You will love it. “No Safe Spaces,” please folks, see it.
Allen: Now, the movie was rated PG-13, and you’ve been open about your disapproval of this rating.
Prager: It’s absurd.
Allen: Can you explain a little bit more about why you felt that?
Prager: There’s a cartoon character where, I forgot, I think the First Amendment is shot. It’s a cartoon. When I think of the cartoons where somebody got shot, trampled, put into a grinder, eaten, and I was a very innocent kid … there’s no blood in it, it’s a cartoon. It’s an absurdity to it. What can I say?
Anyway, people should take their kids. We’re not going to make something that kids shouldn’t see, of course not.
Allen: Yeah, yeah. Thank you. Now, I want to shift gears and talk for a moment about PragerU’s relationship with Google and YouTube, which YouTube is a subsidiary of Google.
PragerU filed a lawsuit against Google because YouTube was restricting your videos, and the U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, but you have filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court in Seattle.
Can you explain why YouTube was restricting your content, and where the appeal stands right now?
Prager: I cannot explain why YouTube was restricting and is restricting our content. We have 100 videos now. We put out a video a week. We have 400 videos up there. About 100 of them are now restricted.
Restricted means that if your family has a filter against pornography and violence, you can’t see our video. I know you’re shaking your head, and you’re right to. Do you know that to this day we have never gotten an answer, “Why have you put them up?”
Allen: So frustrating.
Prager: Well, Sen. [Ted] Cruz, in my presence in the U.S. Senate, and you can watch it, it’s on, ironically, YouTube, Sen. Cruz asked the representative from Google, “Why did you censor Mr. Prager’s video on the Ten Commandments?” And the representative said, “Well, because it mentions murder.” And I did everything to control myself not to burst out laughing.
You don’t want kids to hear that God said, “Thou shall not murder”? That shouldn’t be heard by kids? I mean, is that a joke?
Allen: Sounds like one.
Prager: How did he leave in adultery, then? You want … kids to hear about adultery? Well, sure enough, by the way, after the hearing, they restricted five of the Ten Commandments videos.
Prager: Now, I want to make clear for those who don’t watch our videos, I don’t make most of them, 90% are by other people. I happen to have made the Ten Commandments videos.
Allen: So now you have appealed this case, but how do you see it as being so critical in this debate over free speech and censorship?
Prager: If we lose, then Google, which owns YouTube, will have been given a green light to do all the censoring it wants.
Google is a left-wing organization. The left has always censored thoughts that [don’t] agree with liberals. Allow other thoughts? Leftists do not. That’s why liberals need to understand that the threat to liberalism doesn’t come from conservatives, it comes from leftists. Alan Dershowitz understands this, but most liberals do not.
But if we lose the case, that’s it. Then there is nothing left, and the greatest conduit of information in the history of humanity will be free to be a left-wing, censoring organization. That’s how big it is.
Allen: It’s a critical time in our history.
Prager: It is.
Allen: Now, you’ve been working with young people all across America, and even the world, for a very long time. Have you seen a shift in the thinking of young people over, let’s say, the past 10 years?
Prager: Well, I don’t know. I want to say yes, but I don’t answer what I want to say, I answer what I believe. This is what I do not believe, but no, they are more open to hearing something that isn’t left-wing propaganda, which is all they get from kindergarten.
If I stand in front of a college audience, which I often do, and for example, it’s on YouTube, “Dennis Prager at the University of Wyoming: Why Socialism Makes You Selfish.” They’ve never heard that. They think socialism is altruistic, but in fact, it’s narcissistic, and they loved it.
It was an overflow audience. They had never heard this before. You don’t hear this at college. So there are a lot of kids who just think, “I’m curious. I’m just curious. Really, is there another side?” Whereas the generation before them wasn’t even curious about another side. So in that regard, I truly am hopeful.
Allen: And what do you see as maybe being the one or two most important issues that we really need to be focused on educating young people about right now?
Prager: I think that if you just teach the American Trinity—that’s what I call the three values on every coin— liberty, “In God We Trust,” e pluribus unum—if we just taught that, we would be in great shape.
Liberty needs to be taught. It’s not an instinct. E pluribus unum is the antithesis of multiculturalism, is the antithesis of race, gender, class. We’re all one. We become all Americans. Whatever your race, ethnicity, gender, period. Forget gender, it’s a phony word. Sex.
And “In God We Trust,” that we get our rights from God. That’s the Declaration of Independence, that’s not Prager. If we don’t get them from God, we get them from man. But if we get them from man, they’re worthless.
Allen: And what does the future hold for PragerU? As you said, you all are racking up the video views. You have over 2 billion views on your videos. Do you have any plans on slowing down?
Prager: Of course not. But I will open up personally. I don’t think almost ever how much I or we have accomplished, I think about how much we have not accomplished. And there are still billions who have not been touched by a single idea of ours. That’s all I think about.
I wish every kid in the world, I wish every adult in the world could just see our videos. If you want to reject their ideas, reject their ideas, but at least be exposed to the central ideas that we promote.
There is something beautiful in the male-female difference. It is not oppressive, it is liberating. It is enhancing. The notion that there are 56 genders is not only sick, it’s unhappy.
I spoke to Camille Paglia for an hour on my radio show. She says she is genderless. She doesn’t identify [as] male or female. But she is on our side.
She said, “This idea of obliterating male and female, even though I personally have gender dysphoria,” she says it, she’s honest, “what does that have to do with society? Society can raise kids to be boys and girls. There’s something beautiful about that. Who would’ve anticipated”—by the way, I did, and it’s in writing, you don’t have to take my word for it—”as soon as the argument for same-sex marriage was given, gender doesn’t matter?” I said, “We’re in trouble.”
It wasn’t to say, “I’m against same-sex marriage,” because … I’m all for rights for gays. Totally. My wife and I are the godparents of a gay couple’s children. A lot of these are beautiful people. But as soon as the argument was given, gender doesn’t matter, I knew we were ruined. Gender does matter. That’s why I was against same-sex marriage. I think marriage is between a man and a woman.
If we want a civil ceremony with rights, I am totally on board. I do not want a gay person hurt. But I do not want the message sent [that] gender doesn’t matter. It does.
Allen: We certainly thank you for all the work that you’re doing at PragerU to educate young people, and America, and people all across the world.
Prager: May I just re-mention to people to see “No Safe Spaces”?
Allen: Yes, I was going to ask you.
Prager: Go to nosafespaces.com.
Prager: They’ll see where it’s playing, and they will see the trailer. And just one final [point], if I can?
Prager: OK. I don’t want to go over your time.
Prager: I’m trying to make the case for the greatness, the rational and moral greatness of the Bible in my continuing series, “The Rational Bible.”
Allen: Great. And how can our listeners find other PragerU videos?
Prager: Go to prageru.com and binge.
Allen: Great. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it, Mr. Prager.
Prager: Thank you. My joy.