10 Thoughts on the President and the ‘S—hole Countries’

Here are 10 thoughts on the president’s alleged use of the word “s—hole” in describing Haiti, a Central American country, and African countries:

1. There are few filters between President Donald Trump’s mind and mouth. That is his appeal and his weakness. It is very common that a person’s strengths are also weaknesses. I wish Trump’s tweets and comments were as forthright—as un-P.C.—as they are now but stated in a sophisticated way. I also wish that cheesecake were not fattening. But just as cheesecake comes with sugar, Trump comes with unsophisticated rhetoric. People are packages, not a la carte menus.

2. As a rule, a president of the United States should not label countries, let alone continents, “s—holes.” I don’t know what word the president actually used, but had he used the word “dysfunctional” instead of “s—hole,” that actually might have been a service to the people of many of these countries. I have been to 20 African countries. Corruption is Africa’s greatest single problem. That’s why those who truly care about Africans, many of whom are terrific people, need to honestly describe the moral state of many or most African countries.

What benefit is it to honest, hardworking Africans or Latin Americans or others to deny the endemic corruption of these societies? As Guatemalan columnist Claudia Nunez wrote on Trump in the Guatemalan newspaper Siglio 21:

The epithets he uses to describe certain groups are unfortunate and exemplify the decadence of the current political scene. But he has also said things that are true, for example, that it is we citizens of migration countries who have accommodated ourselves to the need to export people, as we have calmly allowed excessive levels of corruption to grow for decades.

3. Though many wonderful immigrants come from the world’s worst places, there is some connection between the moral state of an immigrant’s country and the immigrant’s contribution to America. According to data from the Center for Immigration Studies, 73 percent of households headed by Central American and Mexican immigrants use one or more welfare programs, as do 51 percent of Caribbean immigrants and 48 percent of African immigrants. Contrast that with 32 percent of East Asians and 26 percent of Europeans.

4. The press’s constant description of Trump as a racist, a white supremacist, a fascist, and an anti-Semite has been a big lie. It is meant to hurt the president, but it mostly damages the country and the media. To cite the most often provided “evidence” for the president’s racism, the president never said or implied that the neo-Nazis at the infamous Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstrations were “fine people.” The “fine people” he referred to were the pro- and anti-statue removal demonstrators.

5. Why are the left’s repeated descriptions of America as “systemically racist” not the moral equivalent of the word “s—hole”? The left’s descriptions of America and its white majority are at least as offensive, less true, and not made in private or semi-private conversations but in the open (in most college classes, for example).

6. The poor choice of language notwithstanding, can any countries be legitimately described as “s—holes”? As Ben Shapiro, a never-Trumper, wrote, “The argument that Trump is wrong to call some countries s—holes comes down to nicety, not truth—which is why Rich Lowry of National Review took Joan Walsh of CNN to the woodshed over whether she’d rather live in Haiti or Norway.” Walsh refused to respond, giving the specious response that she hasn’t been to either country.

7. That the president allows himself to speak openly to Democrats—whose overriding ambition is to undo his election—is testament to his self-confidence, if not his hubris. And his naiveté.

8. What people say in private is neither my business nor my concern. That’s why I wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s defending Hillary Clinton against charges of anti-Semitism for allegedly directing expletive-filled anti-Jewish comments in private against a Jewish campaign official she felt was responsible for Bill Clinton’s lost congressional race. Former President Harry Truman’s private use of the word “kike” was also mentioned.

In the Age of Non-Wisdom in which we live, many well-educated people (and, therefore, often the least wise among us) think private speech reveals all you need to know about someone. But in truth, private speech may reveal nothing about people. If everything you or I said in private were revealed to the world, we could all be made to look awful.

9. The Washington Post reports that the president also said he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries. That would seem to invalidate the racism charge. Had he just met with the prime minister of Singapore, as he had with the prime minister of Norway, he may well have said we need more immigrants from Singapore. As the never-Trump editors of National Review editorialized, “What he was almost certainly trying to get at, in his typically confused way, is that we’d be better off with immigrants with higher skills.”

10. The left has lost all credibility in using the term “racist.” The University of California lists as an example of a “microaggression” the statement “There is only one race, the human race.” The left labels anyone who opposes race-based quotas, or all-black college dorms, or the Black Lives Matter movement “racist.” And it labeled Trump’s Warsaw-speech call to preserve Western civilization a call to preserve white supremacy. On race the left has cried wolf so often that if real wolves ever show up, few will believe it.

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My Quest to Help Americans Rediscover the Bible

I won’t make any assumptions about how many readers noticed I took a three-month break from column writing.

Nevertheless, I want to explain why.

I needed the time to finish the first volume of the biggest project of my life as a writer, a commentary on the first five books of the Bible, or what are called the Torah in Hebrew.

The commentary is addressed to people of every faith and, especially, to people of no faith.

I have believed all my life that the primary crisis in America and the West is the abandonment of Judeo-Christian values, or, one might say, the dismissal of the Bible.

Virtually everyone on the left thinks America would be better off as a secular nation. And virtually all conservative intellectuals don’t think it matters. How many intellectuals study the Bible and teach it to their children?

And yet, from the time long before the United States became a country until well into the 1950s, the Bible was not only the most widely read book in America—it was the primary vehicle by which each generation passed on morality and wisdom to the next generation.

Since that time, we have gone from a Bible-based society to a Bible-ignorant one—from the Bible being the Greatest Book to the Bible being an irrelevant book.

Ask your college-age child, niece, nephew, or grandchild to identify Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, or the ten plagues. Get ready for some blank stares.

I recently asked some college graduates (none of whom were Jewish) to name the four Gospels. None could.

But what we have today is worse than ignorance of the Bible. It is contempt for it. Just about anyone who quotes the Bible, let alone says it is the source of his or her values, is essentially regarded as a simpleton who is anti-science, anti-intellectual, and sexist.

Our society, one of whose mottos is “In God We Trust,” is becoming as godless as Western Europe—and, consequently, as morally confused and unwise as Europe.

Just as most professors regard most Bible believers as foolish, I have more or less the same view of most college professors in the liberal arts.

When I hear that someone has a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, political science, or English, let alone women’s studies or gender studies, I assume that he or she is morally confused and bereft of wisdom. Some are not, of course. But they constitute a small minority.

Whenever teenagers call my radio show or I meet one in person, I can usually identify—almost immediately—the ones who are receiving a religion-based education. They are far more likely to act mature and have more wisdom than their Bible-free peers.

One of our two greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, rarely attended church, but he read the Bible daily. As he said while president, “In regard to this great book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man.”

Were he able to observe America today, Lincoln would be shocked by many things. But none would shock him as much as the widespread ignorance of and contempt for the Bible.

I have taught the Torah, from the Hebrew original, for 40 years. Of the many things I have been blessed to be able to do—from hosting a national radio show to conducting orchestras—teaching Torah is my favorite.

When asked how it has affected my life, I often note that in my early 20s, when I was working through issues I had with my parents, there was nevertheless not a week during which I did not call them.

And there was one reason for this: I believe that God commanded us to “Honor your father and your mother.”

In my commentary, I point out that while the Torah commands us to love our neighbor, love God, and love strangers, it never commands us to love our parents. It was sophisticated enough to recognize that love of parents may be impossible but showing honor to a parent is a behavioral choice.

In America, there is an epidemic of children who no longer talk to one or both of their parents. In a few cases, this is warranted. But in most cases, adult children are inflicting terrible, unfair pain upon their parents.

This is one of a myriad of examples where believing in a God-based text is transformative.

Secular callers tell me that they hardly need the Ten Commandments to desist from murdering anyone. That may well be true. But apparently, a lot of people could use the Ten Commandments to avoid inflicting terrible pain on (admittedly, flawed) parents.

The title of my work is “The Rational Bible” because my vehicle to God and the Bible is reason. If you have ever wondered why all of America’s founders revered the Bible, let alone why anyone today might do so, this book should provide an explanation.

My ultimate aim is to help make the Bible America’s book once again.

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You’re Never Ready to Get Married. But That Shouldn’t Stop You.

Part 1 in a series of widely held beliefs that are either untrue or meaningless.

In every age, people say and believe things that aren’t true but somehow become accepted as “conventional wisdom.”

The statement “I’m not ready to get married” is a current example. Said by more and more Americans between the ages of 21 and 40 (and some who are older than that), it usually qualifies as both meaningless and untrue. And it is one reason a smaller percentage of Americans are marrying than ever before.

So, here’s a truth that young Americans need to hear:

Most people become “ready to get married” when they get married. Throughout history, most people got married at a much younger age than people today. They were hardly “ready.” They got married because society and/or their religion expected them to. And then, once married, people tended to rise to the occasion.

The same holds true for becoming a parent. Very few people are “ready” to become a parent. They become ready … once they become a parent. In fact, the same holds true for any difficult job. What new lawyer was “ready” to take on his or her first clients? What new teacher, policeman, firefighter is “ready?”

You get ready to do something by doing it.

In addition, at least two bad things happen the longer you wait to get “ready” to be married.

One is that, if you are a woman, the number of quality single men declines. Among deniers of unpleasant realities—people known as progressives, leftists, and feminists—this truth is denied and labelled “sexist.” But, as Susan Patton, a Princeton graduate, wrote in an article titled “Advice for the young women of Princeton,” published in Princeton’s student newspaper: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate. … From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds will never be as good to be surrounded by all of these extraordinary men.”

The other bad thing that happens when people wait until they are “ready” to get married is that they often end up waiting longer and longer. After a certain point, being single becomes the norm and the thought of marrying becomes less, not more, appealing. So over time you can actually become less “ready” to get married.

And one more thing: If you’re 25 and not ready to commit to another person, in most cases—even if you are a kind person, and a responsible worker or serious student—“I’m not ready to get married” means “I’m not ready to stop being preoccupied with myself,” or to put it as directly as possible, “I’m not ready to grow up.” (No job on earth makes you grow up like getting married does.)

People didn’t marry in the past only because they fell in love. And people can fall in love and not marry — as happens frequently today. People married because it was a primary societal value. People understood that it was better for society and for the vast majority of its members that as many individuals as possible commit to someone and take care of that person. Among other things, when people stop taking care of one another, the state usually ends up doing so. Just compare the percentage of single people receiving welfare versus the percentage of married people.

Nor is the argument that the older people are when they marry, the less likely they are to divorce. This only applies in any significant way to those who marry as teenagers versus those who marry later. Moreover, the latest data are that those who marry in their early 30s are more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late 20s.

And then there is the economic argument. Many single men, for example, say they are not ready to get married because they don’t have the income they would like to have prior to getting married. As responsible as this may sound, however, this is not a particularly rational argument.

Why is marrying while at a low income a bad idea? In fact, marriage may be the best way to increase one’s income. Men’s income rises after marriage. They have less time to waste, and someone to help support—two spurs to hard work and ambition, not to mention that most employers prefer men who are married. And can’t two people live on less money than each would need if they lived on their own, paying for two apartments?

In addition to economic benefits, the vast majority of human beings do better when they have someone to come home to, someone to care for, and someone to care for them. And, no matter how much feminists and other progressives deny it, children do best when raised by a married couple. There are, most certainly, superb single parents. But every superb single parent I have ever spoken to wishes they had had a spouse with whom to raise their children.

Throughout history, and in every society, people married not when they were “ready” to marry, but when they reached marriageable age and were expected to assume adult responsibilities.

Finally, this statement reflects another negative trend in society—that of people being guided by feelings rather than by standards or obligations. We live in an Age of Feelings. Aside from the rational and moral problems that derive from being guided by feelings rather than by reason and values, there is one other problem. In life, behavior shapes feelings. Act happy, you’ll feel happy. Act single, you’ll feel single. Act married, you’ll feel married.

Do it, in other words. Then you’ll be “ready.”

 

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