Dennis Prager on the Ed Koch controversy
HH: Let me tell you, this morning, early, I pick up my Washington Post as I sit at Dulles, and I go to page C-1, the Style section, Ed Koch calls for ouster of bigot on Holocaust Board, and I see he’s talking about my friend, Dennis Prager. And I say to myself, I know Dennis Prager. Dennis Prager is a friend of mine. And Dennis Prager is about as far from a bigot as I can imagine. So Dennis, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show. This must…this is Alice through the wonderland. We’ve got the Holocaust deniers gathered in Tehran, and Ed Koch thinks you’re the problem.
DP: (laughing) Yup, that pretty much summarizes it. It’s…the inversion of reality here, Hugh, is mind blowing. I was just on CNN, he and I were both on separate, you know, he in New York, me in L.A. But you know what? It confirms for me, all of this, because I’ve been called now a lot of names for the last month, and it confirms for me one of the most important columns I ever wrote, that for the great majority of the left, thought is not necessary. You choose from six words to call your opponents, and then that ends all need for dialogue. Bigot, racist, intolerant, homophobe, Islamophobe, xenophobe, sexist. Seven words. And with that, no intellectual intercourse is necessary. And that is just…
HH: Has anyone gotten to Ed Koch and told them who you are and what you have been doing for twenty-five years?
DP: Actually, I would appreciate if your listeners would.
HH: You know, I don’t think…I’ll bet you that there is not a figure in the American media who has spoken at more length, and in greater interest, and genuine conversation with Muslims than you.
DP: I agree with you. It’s part of the irony of all of this. I opened my radio show that I began radio with Religion On The Line, on the ABC network in L.A., and I am the one who opened the microphone to Muslims. I wanted them to be heard, and not on politics. Just on religion, as to give them the respect of a religion of a billion people. So I also…I was the one chosen by the Young Presidents Organization to moderate inter-faith dialogue in the United Arab Emirates (laughing).
HH: So does anyone bother to put…when you’ve been interviewed, and I know you’ve been all over the place, does any of the American mainstream media set out by saying Dennis Prager has been studying and lecturing on religion for twenty-five years?
DP: No, no. Listen, listen, the only place where intellectual depth is allowed is talk radio.
HH: I’m just astonished by this.
DP: I’m not saying that all talk radio is intellectually deep, but all of the intellectual depth in the media, 90% of it, is located in our profession. And this gave…this is a good example, although the Washington Post woman, to her credit, at least was balanced. It was a balance…you should see what happens in the Jewish media, the Jewish magazines, because of the dominant left-wing views, as you saw there, Ed Koch not only called me on the record a bigot, he called me a schmuck.
HH: Let me read to the audience the Washington Post paragraph which most stunned me. “In a telephone interview yesterday, Koch said, ‘I believe that the great mission of the members of the commission (this is the Holocaust Memorial Council of which Dennis and Koch are both members), the great mission of the commissions is to spread the word you may not engage in bigotry directed on the basis of religion, or on the basis of sexual orientation, or on the basis of political disagreement. For Dennis Prager to take the position on Mr. Ellison not using the Bible is wrong. That’s the mission of who we are on the board, and his statements are 180 degrees from that mission’s statement.”
HH: Dennis Prager, not only does he mischaracterize you, and what you said, it’s a horrible statement of what the mission of the Holocaust Memorial Board is, which is to memorialize the Holocaust that’s being denied.
DP: Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s also, as I said on CNN, all I ask my…even…and I didn’t say Jewish liberals, but my fellow Jews, is the question where do we think we got our staggering security from in America? Uniquely secure as Jews in America over every other country? Isn’t it from the Judao-Christian values? So why on God’s Earth would we not want the Bible that made that possible honored at every ceremonial oath taking? I’m not even asking him to get rid of the Koran. I’m just asking him to bring along a Bible.
HH: Now let me make sure I know what your position is, Dennis. You will not resign from the Holocaust Memorial Council, will you?
DP: That is correct, nor are they asking me to.
HH: Well, they can’t. You’re appointed by the President.
DP: Well, they could ask the President to rescind it.
HH: The President won’t do that, because this is a silly controversy about an intellectual discussion.
DP: Well, exactly. Oh, the thought of the President (laughing) removing an appointee who is fighting the case, a Jew, no less, fighting the case for keeping the Bible as central in American life, is not likely.
HH: Now, you’re meeting on Monday, correct?
DP: Well, as it now stands, yes. I am waiting to see what is being worked out, and I’ll be happy to tell you as soon as I know. That is now scheduled. There is a meeting Monday. They’re trying to work out something where this issue may not come up. So I’ll keep you in touch.
HH: What a classic D.C. solution. So the issue doesn’t come up.
DP: Yeah, isn’t that something?
HH: You know…
HH: I prefer clarity, to quote Dennis Prager.
DP: Yeah, yeah, I know. Look, I feel bad for the commission. These people, you know, they want peace, they don’t want anybody to rock the boat.
HH: But this should be…Monday should be a rock and roll day. There’s a Holocaust denial conference under way.
DP: Well, that’s what they’re saying. They’re saying there is, so let’s not get sidetracked on Ed Koch calling Prager a bigot, which is fine with me.
HH: Well, that I can understand.
DP: Exactly. But they should understand there are three villains here: CAIR, you know CAIR of course.
DP: They’re the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, which is siding with CAIR against me, and Koch. And those are the folks that have raised this whole Holocaust commission membership of mine, for their own reasons. The reason the ADL can’t stand me is its head, Abe Foxman, has announced, I mean, he’s announced, he’s used the ADL to announce that religious, the religious right in America, conservative Christians, are the biggest threat to American life.
DP: And I am the most prominent Jew, who is arguing on behalf of that very group that they are the opposite, they are the backbone of America.
DP: So we have tangled a lot. He lost face on the Passion Of The Christ, where he essentially put the whole movie on the map because of his predictions of dire anti-Semitic consequences from the film, and I kept saying he’s wrong on national television, and so we have sparred in the past.
HH: And what do you think Ed Koch is doing? Is he just a little attention deficit disorder here?
DP: It’s one of the great puzzles to me what animated him. I think Foxman got to him, but it’s purely a theory. I don’t know what sparked it. It may be just liberal anxieties, I don’t know. I really don’t know. It came out of nowhere. He doesn’t even attend their meetings, the other members tell me.
HH: And so, I’m also concerned about whether or not this has legs. I don’t think it does, because it’s just…anyone who knows Dennis Prager knows this is silly. But what about East Coast media? Are they…oh, this is a good horse to beat?
DP: Well, that’s right, exactly. Like Wolf Blitzer introduced it this afternoon on CNN, two prominent men, both Jewish, squaring off against each other. You know (laughing)…
HH: You know, American media…and it’s a circus. Meanwhile, Hamas is in a civil war with Fatah, Syria is on the brink of civil war…
DP: That’s right, and I’m saying bring a Bible to the…please bring a Bible along with your Koran, and I’m the villain.
HH: And you’re the villain. And David Duke is in Tehran with Ahmadinejad.
DP: Yeah, that’s right.
HH: Well, Dennis…
DP: Well, I told you, the left hates the right more than it hates the Islamists or the terrorists.
HH: Well, if this continues, please let me know. Keep me posted, because I know that everyone in Southern California, and anywhere your syndicated show is heard across the United States, knows you, and this is just silly and absurd, and it must be causing you a little bit of humor, and a lot of angst over being misrepresented, because I know bigots, and I know Dennis Prager, and never shall the two meet.
DP: Thank you, Hugh. I know. Thank you very much.
HH: All right, my friend. Be steady in the storm. That too shall pass. It always does. I just…Ed Koch, I can’t believe it. Dennis Prager, my friend, talk to you again soon.
End of interview.