Dennis Prager, conservative commentator and namesake of the PragerU digital media outlet, asserted in an interview with The Epoch Times that conservative opinions are suppressed worse today in the United States than communism was in the era of McCarthyism.
McCarthyism refers to a period in the 1950s in which Sen. Joseph McCarthy conducted hearings and investigations attempting to prove that various factions of the U.S. government and society had been infiltrated by communists. McCarthy’s investigations often resulted in severe personal and professional fallout for McCarthy’s targets and created widespread paranoia about an internal threat of communism.
Prager sat down with The Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek for an episode of the outlet’s “American Thought Leaders” longform interview series, which was uploaded to YouTube on June 25. During the duo’s conversation, Prager agreed with Jekielek’s suggestion that so-called “cancel culture” was creating a “safe space” in the country that was unwelcoming to conservative thought and the free exchange of ideas.
“The suppression of opinion in America today is unprecedented. It dwarfs McCarthyism,” Prager said. “There’s no comparison, but there are parallels, because anti-communism was a noble cause. There are those who used anti-communism for ill ends. The Nazis were a perfect example. The left uses anti-racism, which is a noble idea, to be opposed to racism, as it was noble to be anti-communist, but they use it for ill ends. The parallels to the past are so eerie as to be breathtaking. … This is nationwide. This is prolonged. This has affected big business, newspapers, schools.”
Prager went on to support his claim by citing the late historian Eugene Genovese, who wrote in The New Republic decades ago that he feared his conservative colleagues were facing “a new McCarthyism” that was “in some ways more effective and vicious than the old.” Though Genovese once described himself as a pro-communist Marxist, over time, Genovese’s politics shifted, and he expressed public sympathy for right-wing causes.
Later on in the interview, Jekielek told Prager that it seemed to him that “so-called cancel culture” had “gone really into overdrive” since a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a Black man, ignoring Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. Prager indicated that he agreed, and went on to claim that systemic racism in the United States does not exist.
“There is zero reason to say America is racist,” Prager said. “There is zero reason to say the cops are systemically racist. There are racist cops, there are racist Americans. I’m a Jew. There are anti-Semitic Americans. America is the best country, best non-Jewish country Jews have ever lived in. This is the best non-Black country Blacks have ever lived in. Now it is—it obviously wasn’t when there was slavery. I’m talking about now and in the post-civil rights era.”
Prager asserted that protesters opposing system racism are “protesting a lie.”