Dennis Prager is many things, but a high school principal he is not. Maybe a frustrated non high school principal, but not an actual one. This, however, does not stop him from offering a wise, witty, erudite, inspiring speech that he hopes will become the template for all those who take up this position.
He is also very courageous. He uses the “N” word all spelled out. True, his usage of this prohibited word is employed so as to forbid his students, white or black or anything else, from so doing. He does so in the spirit of Lenny Bruce, who also used that word in a similar context. But, still, it took great valor to do so; tenured faculty have been fired for emulating him in this regard. I myself in sharp contrast am an abject coward. My university employer would like nothing more for me to engage in such word usage, tenure be damned. I dursn’t.
He announces that the school will “no longer honor race or ethnicity: I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white.” There will be no school clubs based upon such considerations nor any celebrations on that basis; they just drive people apart.
Classes, he avers, will all be conducted in English; a strict dress code will be implemented; obscene language will not be tolerated (this includes use of the “N” word, “even when used by one black student to address another black”); further, “there will be one valedictorian, not eight.” Principal Prager also inveighed against scaring students about global warming. He concluded, right before instituting the Pledge of Allegiance that “There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian.”
Comes the question; should all high school teachers buy into this perspective (to say nothing of college presidents)? Would they do so in the free society, given that the desiderata was good education? Yes! A thousand times yes.
But there are other possible goals. One of them is economic freedom. Here, in contrast, the motto should be: “let 1,000” flowers bloom. Well, actually, far more than that since in the free society each school would be free to inculcate whatever policies it wishes.
There is nothing incompatible with just law and the use of the “N” word. Surely there are some educational consumers who would take it amiss to have their free speech rights trampled upon in such manner. They might well prefer to patronize other more linguistically free educational establishments. Then, too, opinions vary as to the propriety and desirability of several other Prager policies.
I, personally, would want my children and grandchildren to be enrolled in a school predicated upon the principles articulated by Mr. Prager. If I were a high school teacher I would vastly prefer to be employed by this man. However, in a free society, not everyone would share the views that he and I do. The two of us would be no more justified in shoving these principles down the throats of the entire society than are the wokesters who are presently attempting to do just that to the rest of us.
But Mr. Prager is articulating his own preferences; this is well and good. No one should interpret him as attempting to make these principles mandatory for anyone else.
Walter Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University, New Orleans.