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Jewish World Review June 1, 2004 / 12 Sivan, 5764

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
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One man wore jacket and tie at high school graduation | Last week, the producer of my radio show, Allen Estrin, attended his niece's graduation at a public high school in St. Louis. At a certain point in the proceedings, he noticed that he was the only man in the audience wearing a jacket and tie; and only three other men wore a tie without a jacket.

This story exemplifies yet another aspect of the age in which we live, the Age of Stupidity. Only in an age that rejects wisdom could most people believe that clothing is unimportant. Callers to my radio show have often told me, for example, that it is entirely unimportant what people wear even to church — after all, G-d sees people's hearts, not their clothing, right?

Clothing has come to have no other purpose than providing comfort to the wearer. Fewer and fewer people appreciate how much what we wear affects both us and the people around us.

That is why the dummies who award and receive doctorates in education almost universally reject school uniforms. They don't (or don't want to) realize how much the clothing that students and teachers wear affects the way students and teachers act and regard school. Until very recently (specifically since the Stupid Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s), every elevated civilization has placed great emphasis on what people wear. Judeo-Christian civilization, for example, teaches that God Himself made the first clothes.

What we wear communicates what we think of ourselves, but even more so, what we think of the world around us.

When guests dress up for a wedding, they do so in order to honor the bride and groom and to proclaim how much they honor the marriage ceremony.

When students and teachers dress up for school every day, they are honoring education. It demonstrates the foolishness of the people who run American education that they, of all people, so often lead the attack on school uniforms. Incredibly, they don't understand how much respect education loses when students wear to school what they wear to the mall.

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When parents and others attending a high school graduation show up in shorts, T-shirts, Hawaiian flower shirts and jeans, they are saying to the students that this night is no more significant than any other time they wear the same clothing. Just ask students how they would react if all the male guests wore jackets and ties and all the women dressed equally formally.

How has this devaluation of clothing come about?

As usual when explaining the origins of the Age of Stupidity, one answer is secularism. At my older son's graduation from a religious Jewish high school a few years ago, every single man in the audience wore a jacket and tie and the women were similarly formally dressed. Secularism not only induces stupidity ("Wisdom begins with awe of G-d," the Psalmist correctly noted), it also de-sanctifies almost everything. In the radically secular age in which we live, nothing is holy. Not even schools.

Liberal secular society has two primary concerns before wisdom — health and equality.

Health: It was a non-issue to most everyone at the graduation that people came in shorts and T-shirts. But imagine the reaction if one person had lit up a cigarette. Panic and screams of hatred would have been unleashed. The poor soul would have been rushed out of the building as if he were a terrorist — which is precisely how the smoker would have been viewed thanks to the mind-numbing propaganda of how fatal a whiff of secondhand smoke is. In every preceding generation, however, when wisdom was valued, a man or woman who wore shorts to a graduation would have been regarded as out of place as a smoker would today.

Equality: A word that is often used to describe formal clothing is "classy," a word which itself derives from "class." Because of its derivation, however, the word is rarely used today — it conflicts with one of our era's dominant values, egalitarianism. Therefore more and more people dress and act . . . classless, such as when they all wear T-shirts. That is also why so many teachers don't dress up to teach — the egalitarians who run American education don't want students to regard teachers as being of a higher class than students.

My producer, however, is a classy guy. And for that reason, he was quite out of place at his niece's high school graduation.

But at least his niece was appropriately honored.

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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate