On Tuesday’s episode of “The Michael Knowles Show,” Knowles discusses the implications of a new poll that says fewer value religion, patriotism and having children. Video and partial transcript below:
Don’t take my word for it, it’s not just insinuation. This is according to a new poll out — from [the] Wall Street Journal and NBC — which shows American values are shifting dramatically. Gradually then suddenly. This is from the article. “Patriotism, religion and having children rate lower among younger generations than they did two decades ago.”
And they rate much lower. Twenty-one years ago, they took this poll: Strong majorities of Americans chose the principles of hard-work, patriotism, commitment to religion, and the goal of having children as being the most important to them. Now, the good news is [that] millennials and Gen Z still value hard work — they still like that. But their only other sacredly held value is tolerance. Tolerance.
Religion, patriotism, even having children, rate much much lower. This is a direct result of losing religion. Saint Andrew Breitbart, the patron of Hollywood conservatives, said politics is downstream of culture. And we know culture is downstream of religion. Cult and culture are related words — what the culture worships defines that culture. And this problem goes all the way to the foundation of society, religion.
Because when they say tolerance, they don’t really mean tolerance. Tolerance is one of the most abused words in the English language today. This started in the 1960s when the father of the New Left, Herbert Marcuse, wrote an essay called “Repressive Tolerance,” in which he said, We can no longer tolerate intolerance and so tolerance needs to become intolerant.
When we conservatives joke about the so-called tolerant Left, which is always attacking conservatives and shutting us down and [getting] us kicked off campus — in some cases physically attacking us — they’re obviously not being tolerant. They’re being tolerant by this new definition of tolerance. Capital T. It’s the value of secular religion. What it really means is, it’s the value of multiculturalism — Capital M — and cultural relativism. Capital letters, right. They mean that those ideas mean that nothing is true, objectively. Therefore, tolerance and hard work are all that we can value. The thing that’s really troubling about this, too — because look, we all like whole hard work — at least we can all agree that hard work is a good value.
Except in this case, it spells trouble, because it means that we increasingly only value things that have to do with our will, not with our intellect. Hard work and tolerance are values of the will. You can just sort of will yourself to do it — grit your teeth and tolerate stuff you don’t like. That’s the good version of tolerance, or grit your teeth and tolerate only tolerant opinions and don’t tolerate the intolerant opinions — and kick them out of your campus. But you’re still — it’s all about the will. It’s not about actually thinking this is true and beautiful. This is better than this. This is more accurate than this. This is objectively true. It’s just the will. Same thing when it comes to hard work. Hard work, you just grit your teeth and do it right. Not because of any intellectual scheme, or scheme of reason, but you just will yourself to do work.
Religion and patriotism are values of the intellect. You can’t even really will yourself into it if the intellect won’t go with you. You subscribe to a religion because you think it’s true — because you think God exists and he has a son named Jesus Christ, and [that] Christ instituted a church and you go to mass for that reason, and he instituted sacraments and you have those sacraments. There is an act of will, obviously, but it’s part of the intellect that comes along too. Same thing with patriotism. You can’t just will yourself into love [of] your country. You can’t will yourself into loving anything, really. You can go through the motions, but there has to be intellectual ascent at some point. You have to really love your country. Why do I love my country? Because it’s a great country. Why do I love my parents? Because they’re great parents.
You know, I mean it’s the same kind of thing. It’s the same sort of filial piety. I will my love, obviously. I enact my love of country my patriotism, but I intellectually assent to that as well. And we have undercut our own confidence in our faculties of reason. Nothing is true. Nothing can be believed. As radical skepticism, you do you. I’ll do me. I can’t ever tell you I can’t impose my views. Nothing. Stop being so judgy. These kind of slogans, these kind of ideas are undercutting the basis of our politics itself. The basis of self-government. The basis of open debate the basis of true tolerance.
When you lose those things — we’re kind of living on the fumes of them. We’re living right now, on the fumes of religion and patriotism once that’s gone, we have no reason to participate in our institutions — to have reasonable debate, to have open rhetoric, to have open discourse in this country — when it just becomes about the will. Then we will assert our will on others. You see the Left doing that increasingly. It’s just all about willfulness and what they want. They’re going to get what they want because they want it, when they want it. And that is an unrecognizable country. When you stop loving your country, don’t be surprised when you wake up and the country looks very different than you remember it.