Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Human Need To Feel Important -- and How Government Squelches It

Dennis Prager

If one were to draw up a list of human needs, food and shelter would be at the top. With great respect to Freudians, sex would not be No. 2.

The need for meaning would be second only to the need for food.

That meaning is more important to happiness than sex is easily shown. A great many people go long periods without sex, and while many of them miss it, if they have meaning in their lives, they can lead quite happy and fulfilling lives. On the other hand, few people who have regular sex but lack meaning are happy or fulfilled.

Third on the list of human needs is the need to feel important. This need is much less often cited than the need for food, sex and meaning. But it is so important that a case could be made that it is tied for No. 2 with the need for meaning.

The infamous "midlife crisis" is a crisis of importance: "I thought I would be much more important at this stage in life than I am." That mostly afflicts men -- just as feeling less important after one's children have left home afflicts mothers more than fathers.

Among the many psycho-social crises afflicting Americans is a crisis of importance. Fewer Americans feel important than did Americans in the past.

Why? What has happened? What has happened is a steep decline in the number of institutions that gave people a feeling of importance.

Given that work is generally regarded as one of the most ubiquitous providers of purpose, and that, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, more Americans were working than ever before, one would think that more Americans than ever before felt important.

It has not turned out that way. For many, work has not provided the sense of importance people expected it to, let alone fulfilled the other great need: for meaning. This is especially true for women, but first, we will address men.

Work used to provide many men with a sense of importance. It is simply a fact that being the breadwinner for a family means one is important. However, since the 1970s and the rise of feminism, women have not only become breadwinners, but they have increasingly become the primary breadwinner within a marriage and for a family. That has helped couples financially, but it has also deprived a great many men of their sense of importance. When regarded by a wife and children as important, husbands/fathers felt important. Progressive America mocks the 1950s TV series "Father Knows Best." But when wives and children believed that, men felt important because they were. The price for this, according to feminism, was paid by women, who didn't receive the accolades of breadwinning. And they set about changing it.

However, contrary to the expectations of the well-educated, women becoming breadwinners has not provided most women with a sense of importance, and certainly not meaning in life. Contrary to what feminism, colleges, high schools, progressive parents and the mass media have claimed for decades, men and women do not have the same natures. Just as sex with many partners does not provide most women with the same satisfaction it provides men, most work does not provide women with the same sense of importance or meaning it provides men. For many women, being the breadwinner is financially beneficial but not especially satisfying. Most women would still like their man to be the primary breadwinner. That's why very wealthy women so often marry even wealthier men. It is built into female nature.

Moreover, throughout history, work was rarely seen as a primary provider of importance or meaning -- for either sex. Work was little more than a necessity, and the vast majority of people would have happily abandoned their often back-breaking, drudgery-inducing work if they could afford to.

For the most part, people sought -- and found -- importance and meaning outside of work. This was especially true in America, where "associations" provided both importance and meaning.

Nongovernmental associations, as Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his brilliant analysis of American life in the early 19th century, was the key to Americans' success and happiness. These included, first and foremost, religious associations and religion in general. Most religious people feel important -- to God, to their community, to their family. My father was the president of our synagogue, and my mother was active in the synagogue's "sisterhood." Though both worked full time, those roles provided them with immense meaning and sense of importance.

Add to that: Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs; book clubs; the Masons; bowling leagues; coaching Little League; volunteer charitable work; teaching Bible in Sunday school. These provided people with a sense of importance.

The key to all these associations was their being independent of government. As government has grown, nearly all these associations have shrunk. Therefore, we have a rule: The more government intrudes in people's lives, the less important most people feel -- unless they work for the government.

Yet, to progressives, government is, or should be, almost everything in people's lives. It should take care of as many people as possible. However, at a massive price: The more one relies on the government, the more one will inevitably lack a sense of importance.

This ideal was announced at the 2012 Democratic Party Convention, when the narrator of a specially-created Barack Obama campaign-theme video asserted, "Government is the only thing that we all belong to." The DNC also showed a fictional storybook ad titled "The Life of Julia." It portrayed a woman from childhood to old age, wholly dependent on the government. Despite her having a child, there was not a man anywhere in the story, nor, apparently, was there a man in her life. The result? More and more American women have come to rely on the government, not on a husband. The results have been calamitous.

President Joe Biden repeated this theme last week: "Put trust and faith in our government," he pleaded with Americans. One could accurately say that we are replacing America's motto, "In God We Trust," with, "In Government We Trust."

The bigger the government, the fewer the institutions in which people can feel important. Therefore, given the deep human need to feel important, people will look elsewhere for their importance -- like fighting systemic racism, heteronormativity, capitalism, patriarchy and transphobia. And, most of all, global warming -- because you cannot feel more important than when you believe you are saving the world.


Critical Race Theory’s Anti-Semitism Problem

Critical race theory is a popular left-wing ideology that purports to explain the societal inequalities that prevent racial and ethnic minority groups from achieving social and economic success. While it presents itself as fighting prejudice, a closer look reveals that it is the driving force behind much of today’s left-wing anti-Semitism.

The clearest example of this occurred last year at a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington, D.C. There were chants of “Israel, we know you murder children, too,” and a Harvard student read a poem that called Israel “puppet master of continents,” invoking the stereotype of evil Jews manipulating global politics.

The language used cannot be attributed to the folly of youth, as these stereotypes have also made their way into the halls of Congress.

In 2019, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., paraphrased a popular rap lyric, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” as she tweeted support for her anti-Israel politics. The tweet referred to money and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and made use of the anti-Semitic trope that Jews and their money wield an outsized influence on politics.

Omar, a duly-elected U.S. congresswoman, embraced the age-old anti-Semitic narrative that wealthy, powerful Jews manipulate our political system for their own gain and against the common good. Left-wing proponents of critical race theory may see themselves as fighting oppression, but their ideology’s logical conclusions are stereotypes and hatred that target the Jews.

It also suggests that race, gender, and other identities are social constructs that support larger systems of oppression. White men—by virtue of their male sex and light skin color—are oppressors twice over, while black women are twice oppressed, and white women are both oppressors of blacks and oppressed by men.

Within this system, success is possible, but only if one joins the system that critical race theorists believe oppresses people of color. Thus, if an oppressed individual achieves success, he or she becomes an oppressor regardless of their identity.

If this weren’t bad enough, critical race theorists generally make the mistake of assuming that all Jews are white and hence “privileged” because of their supposed economic power.

Thanks to the Jewish diaspora and to conversion, a great ethnic variety exists among Jews; there are Indian, Ethiopian, North African, and East Asian Jews, as well as those of Central European ancestry. Critical race theory, however, tends to neglect this nuance in favor of the old saw that Jews are white, wealthy, and therefore “privileged”—even more than other white people.

Moreover, because of this privilege, Jews—who endured a genocide in the 20th century—are unable to be victims of implicit bias. This is truly incredible, because according to the FBI, Jews make up 60% of all religious-based hate-crime victims.

By the theory’s perverse logic, Jews are first and foremost members of the oppressor class, bearing guilt for any wrong done to any nonwhite group by any white people. Simply put, critical race theory repeatedly casts Jews as having outsized economic success, even relative to other white people, and this supposed success makes them the worst of the capitalist oppressors.

Anti-Semitism has long depicted Jews as racially inferior and extremely clever puppet masters who surreptitiously control banks, politicians, and the media. The clearest example of this was in Nazi Germany, where Jews were targeted both for being an inferior race and having an outsized grip on German political, economic, and intellectual life. Modern-day critical race theory does much of the same.

This, coupled with anti-Semitism, both target the Jews and blame them for perceived societal ills. But the goal is not simply hatred of the Jewish people; it is to upend the civic order. Jews are just the scapegoat.


The cancellation of Ian Murray

For defending the press against Harry and Meghan’s bilge, he has been forced out by his fellow journalists.

Harry and Meghan have claimed another scalp. To disagree with the claims in that Oprah interview, that they are the victims of a racist media and an unfeeling monarchy, is now tantamount to thoughtcrime – as Piers Morgan and now Ian Murray have found out.

Murray was, until yesterday, the executive director of the Society of Editors in the UK. He resigned this morning due to comments he and his organisation made that irked the more woke sections of the press. In response to the Sussexes’ claims that the British tabloids ‘incited so much racism’ against them, the Society of Editors put out a robust statement on Monday.

‘The UK media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account following the attack on the press by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’, it read, nodding to the universally positive coverage the couple received when they first got together. ‘It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence.’

That an industry body would stick up for the industry it represents is hardly surprising. Not least because the claims that the media treated Harry and Meghan unfairly rest on a handful of questionable examples, subjected to an absurd level of textual analysis. That people keep banging on about that Mail piece about avocados shows us how far down the rabbit hole we’ve tumbled.

But many high-profile journalists were furious. The editors of the Guardian, the Financial Times and the HuffPost broke ranks and criticised the statement. An open letter, signed by ethnic-minority journalists, said it ‘shows an institution and an industry in denial’. After journalists pulled out of an upcoming SoE event, the writing was on the wall. A ‘clarification’ to the statement was issued and Murray fell on his sword.

By all means let’s have a discussion about racial bias in the press and barriers to entry for particular groups. That Guardian cartoon last year depicting Priti Patel as a fat cow with a ring through her nose reminds us it still has some way to go. Critics say that it is absurd to suggest that no racists work in the British media, that there are never any biased stories, and of course they are right. But then Murray never said that.

What he said was that you should not demonise an entire media based on vague allegations alone, that you cannot just conflate negative coverage of the Sussexes with racism, and that doing so risks undermining the media’s ability to hold the powerful to account. This is an entirely legitimate position to hold. It is frankly hard to see how any journalist could disagree with it. That he has been forced out merely for expressing it bodes very ill indeed.

Of all the things for journalists to get upset about this week, the SoE isn’t it. How about the fact that two royals complained to ITV about its coverage of them? Or that Harry and Meghan issued instructions to the BBC about how best to cover their Oprah interview? Or, on another matter, that the US office of HuffPost, one of the brave dissenters from the SoE statement, just sacked 47 of its journalists in psychotically cruel fashion.

No, some journalists would rather go to the barricades for a duke and duchess who don’t like the media being mean to them. And these are the people who we rely on to hold the powerful to account.


House Duo Target 3 Books of ‘Poison’ on Navy’s Reading List for Sailors

Two members of Congress are asking the Navy to pull three books promoting identity politics and wokeness from its official reading list.

The books teach young sailors that they’re being asked to fight and possibly die for “a systemically racist country,” the lawmakers say.

The books—“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi; “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander; and “Sexual Minorities and Politics” by Jason Pierceson—are listed as part of the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program.

All Navy personnel pledge to defend the Constitution, yet these books portray America as fundamentally bigoted, Reps. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., write to Adm. Michael M. Gilday, who is chief of naval operations.

In the letter, dated March 11, Lamborn and Hartzler, both members of the House Armed Services Committee, write:

We can seek to improve upon the promise of the Declaration of Independence without teaching our young men and women in uniform that the country they defend is fundamentally racist and bigoted and that the only cure to this corporate deficiency is modern day discrimination.

The letter says they object to the three books on the admiral’s reading list for sailors because they promote the view that the United States is a “confederation of identity categories … rather than a common homeland of individual citizens.”

“These works fall under the rubric of critical race theory, a racial form of marxist philosophy which should not be allowed to poison our military,” the letter adds.

Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval operations, told The Daily Signal in an email that the Navy appreciates the two lawmakers’ concerns.

“The Navy has received the letter from Reps. Lamborn and Hartzler, and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, will respond directly to them,” Christensen wrote. “We appreciate the representatives’ concerns regarding this issue.”

Fox News reported Tuesday that Gilday did respond to an earlier letter from Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., that asked him to remove only the Kendi book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” from the reading list.

“While I do not endorse every viewpoint of the books on this reading list, I believe exposure to varied ideas improves the critical thinking skills of our sailors,” Gilday wrote to Banks in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News. “My commitment to them is to continue to listen, make sure their voice is heard, and make the Navy a shining example of an organization centered on respect, inclusive of all.”

Gilday, referring only to the Kendi book, said it “evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion, the deep nuances of racism and racial inequalities.”

The admiral also said that he wants the Navy’s sailors to achieve the same level of “self-reflection.”

In their letter, Hartzler and Lamborn ask Gilday to pull the three books from the reading list; verify the books aren’t being promoted to Navy personnel; “confirm that it is not the Navy’s official position that America is a systemically racist country”; and confirm the Navy’s opposition to race-based discrimination.

“Why would we expect our nation’s young men and women to join the Navy to fight, and possibly die, on behalf of a systemically racist country?” Hartzler and Lamborn ask the admiral. “Why should they, if the books you have recommended are taken to heart?”

Not every viewpoint in the books on the reading list is endorsed by the chief of naval operation or the Navy, but exposure to varied viewpoints improves sailors’ critical thinking skills, according to one senior Navy official.

The two House members note in their letter to Gilday that Kendi’s book argues that “the entire American system is corrupted from top to bottom by racial prejudices which account for all the differences in outcomes in our society.”

Their letter includes this quote from Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist”:

The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.

The letter also quotes Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” as saying that increased crime in the 1970s was “an opening to turn back the progress on racial progress in the United States.”

The two lawmakers assess Pierceson’s “Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” as taking a side in debates that are not scientifically settled.

One example: “whether biological men should be able to use the same bathroom as women and girls, and whether they should be able to compete in women’s sports, shattering female records and receiving scholarships instead of women.”

Gilday, 58, a four-star admiral and chief of naval operations since August 2019, was nominated for the post by then-President Donald Trump. He is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Federal law requires the position to be held by an admiral who is a military adviser and deputy to the secretary of the Navy as well as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Human Need To Feel Important -- and How Government Squelches It
Dennis Prager

So true. Government funded welfare work is infested by feminist women who are utterly convinced that they are society's most important people.