I just got back from an incredible Shabbaton. The guest speakers were Dennis Prager, Norman Podhoretz, and Dr. Ruth Wisse of Harvard. There was so much good stuff that I could write about it for weeks. I'm not sure whether I could do any of it justice this late at night, so I'll restrain myself for the most part.
A few quick notes on Prager. One of his speeches was on the decline of Europe; he traced it to the breakdown of their guiding ideas, and said as well that America is strong because of "American values." He said that he only realized what these American values are since 9/11, but that they can be found on any American coin. These values are three, and they are:
2. In God We Trust
3. E Pluribus Unum
These are contrasted against the main European values, which are respectively:
It is this last which is most damaging, since Europe no longer has the intellectual framework to justify fighting against the tide of Muslim immigrants, hostile to the very states that give them shelter. "European values" have a wide following in the United States as well, as can be seen from the recent Supreme Court decision on executing minors, as written by Justice Kennedy in which he cited world opinion as the basis for his ruling. If America is to remain vital, we must reassert American values over European ones.
One last Dennis Prager question to ponder on until I can treat it more fully: Given that we have a fixed calender, does the Rabbinic institution of a second day for Yom Tov violate the prohibition against "adding to the Torah"?