Dennis Prager

Which brings us to the second point -- the belief among many Americans that one knows "the real person" (public or private) if one knows what the person says in private, and therefore, we should know as much as possible about the private conversations of public figures.

This is as dangerous as it is nonsensical.

There is no truth to this belief.

We all say all sorts of things in private that reveal nothing about our true selves. The very nature of private speech is that it enables us to be free to say anything. It is what we do that tells the world who we are. And as regards the speech of public figures, it is what public figures say of significance in public that matters.

It is, to my mind, another of the many examples of the lack of wisdom in the liberal world that liberals think that private speech reveals who people are, and that we therefore have a right, even a duty, to know as much about it as possible. Thus, liberals repeatedly speak of Richard Nixon's private anti-Jewish remarks to make their case that the former president was an anti-Semite. Of course, this "anti-Semite" appointed the first Jewish secretary of state and saved Israel's life during the Yom Kippur War. But to the foolish who believe that private speech is the real thing, little of that matters in assessing Nixon's character insofar as it related to Jews.

To sharpen this point, contrast Nixon with another recent president, Jimmy Carter. I would be willing to wager that Mr. Carter has never said anything in private as derogatory about Jews as Nixon did. But to the vast majority of Jews and non-Jews who understand that the security of the Jewish state is the most pressing Jewish issue, Mr. Carter has been the Jews' problem, not Mr. Nixon. Likewise, Harry Truman sometimes used the term "kike" in private conversation, but it was he who went against the advice of his entire State Department and recognized Israel's existence as soon as Israel was declared a state.

Finally, we again come to the falsehood that Democrats and liberals regularly offer when they ask Americans to have honest dialogue on the race issue. Thanks to liberals, one can sooner swear in public or declare the world is flat than say the most innocuously valid things about racial matters. One cannot even oppose race-based affirmative action without liberals labeling the person "racist."

Because I prize private speech and truth more than I prize humiliating Harry Reid -- who, again, would not be nearly so decent to any Republican -- I find the revelation of his private speech and especially the attention paid to it as if it signifies anything important about him to reflect only one more example of a downward moral spiral in my beloved country.


Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.
 
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