Dennis Prager believes it could take decades to undo the damage done to American universities by the institutional left, if it can ever be undone at all — but that doesn’t mean he won’t pitch in on the effort.
The nationally syndicated radio host has partnered with comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla on a new film, No Safe Spaces, that will explore and then pick apart the culture of political correctness — and the left’s suppression of differing viewpoints and open debate — that has metastasized on college campuses throughout the country.
“If Americans understand what the Left has done to the universities, it will understand what it is doing and what it will do to America,” says Prager, who graduated from Brooklyn College and went on to attend Columbia University and the University of Leeds in England.
“The university is first, and then the rest of the country follows,” Prager explains. “The suppression of free speech, the rendering of kids into immature creatures who have little thought of their own, who are given slogans rather than ideas — the university is the least morally acute place in the United States, as an institution.”
Carolla and Prager are set to embark on a cross-country tour of college campuses later this year, footage of which will be incorporated into No Safe Spaces. The film gets its title from so-called “safe spaces” — rooms filled with coloring books, stuffed animals, and other pleasant distractions — provided by many universities to students who become offended or otherwise traumatized by exposure to alternative opinions, or by micro-aggressions.
Universities have again become flashpoints in the country’s debate over free speech, including the University of California Berkeley, where threats of violence from left-wing activist groups recently forced the cancellation of scheduled visits by conservative speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. The cancellations drew national media coverage and fueled accusations of politically-motivated censorship; but Prager says the problem extends even deeper, to the curricula being taught in many of these institutions.
“The students who took over the dean’s offices [in the ’70s] now run the universities and teach. This is the tenured class, my baby boom generation. And they are truly mindless,” he says. “We have a massive number of foolish people teaching our children. And we have whole departments of nonsense, like Gender Studies and Women’s Studies. It’s the most anti-intellectual place in the country. It’s a very big problem.”
Carolla — who co-hosted the decidedly politically incorrect The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel on Comedy Central in the early 2000s and frequently tackles uncomfortable topics on his popular podcast — wonders whether it is even worth attempting to fix a college environment cultivated by the left in which everyone wears a helmet and drinks triple-filtered water, and in which young professionals expect to get a month off from work to celebrate a half-birthday.
“Instead of going out and trying to fix [the left], why don’t I exploit them? Why don’t I take a look at all these holes in their game?” Carolla tells me as he and Prager step away from filming a segment on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight to promote the movie. “There’s a sort of Charmin on Charmin crime going on; soft, pillowy, triple-ply. In a weird way, it’s never been a better time for anyone with a little chutzpah and a fire in their belly — and not scared to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirt under their fingernails — to just get to work.”
“With all these soft, pampered little sort of half-men, half-women, all-wuss little creatures running around the campuses, my kids no longer have to be the most talented, or the best students, or the smartest or brightest. Just get up and go to work, and you’re going to blow away your boss,” he adds.
Carolla and Prager launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to produce No Safe Spaces on Wednesday; the campaign had already collected around $32,000 of its $500,000 goal by late Wednesday night. Contributors get perks like a digital download of the film upon its release, a “Utopia University” diploma signed by Carolla and Prager, and, in the spirit of the project, a No Safe Spaces official coloring book.
Prager says that partnering with Carolla on the film will allow the pair to present the “very dire” situation surrounding today’s college campuses in a humorous way.
“You cannot allow yourself to be intimidated, or they win,” he explains. “They bank on intimidation winning. But they’re cowards. And when you confront the cowards, they flee.”
Meanwhile, Carolla chuckles when I ask him whether The Man Show — which featured an all-female group of cheerleaders/announcers called the “Juggy Dance Squad” and a regular segment in which girls jumped up and down on trampolines in slow motion — could exist in today’s hyper-sensitive, politically correct environment.
“I think The Man Show starring Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bono would be an amazing hit today,” he joked.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum