Don't Burn This Book
I recently read Don’t Burn This Book by Dave Rubin (2020). I had watched his show, the Rubin Report, quite often, so I already knew a bit of what he thought of current events, but I never found a complete account of his awakening to the truth of what was really going on. How is it possible for a leftist to change? Can it be replicated? How does one become a leftist in the first place? These are questions I have never found good answers to and I hoped this book would shed some light on these issues. It did not.
Another thing he has mentioned on his show that I was led to believe would be explained in the book was his concept of “factory settings.” What this means is that we all have default worldviews (based partly on culture and the dominant media) until new evidence overturns them, but only if we are open-minded. While the term was briefly mentioned in the book, it was never explained and only the most vague examples were given.
One example from the book is that socialists are generous and capitalists are greedy. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, I have never understood why wanting to hold on to your own hard-earned money is greedy, but wanting to take money from someone else isn’t. My “factory settings” are to think of socialists as greedy. How is it possible that others have different settings? This is what I still don’t understand.
One example from his show is “Republicans are for war, Democrats are for peace.” I thought this was a strange example too, since we are the same age and would have grown up during the same events. I grew up thinking that Republicans were the anti-war party. Bill Clinton got us into Bosnia and Kosovo, fired into Iraq in 1998, and bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan, and at every step the GOP claimed we had no legitimate national security interest to be involved. They cast Clinton as a warmonger. Who thinks Democrats are the party of peace?
Related to both of these issues is the idea that the “mainstream media” is anti-conservative. This is something that almost every conservative says often. It is an unfortunate term, because it occludes the truth: The “mainstream” media isn’t mainstream anymore and hasn’t been for decades. Hardly anyone watches antenna television. It was replaced by cable and cable is currently being replaced by decentralized platforms across the internet. Even as CNN and MSNBC have embraced insanity, FOX has been by far the largest cable news outlet in terms of viewers. There are claims that YouTube censors content, and that might be true, but I have always had a harder time finding pro-Democrat channels than pro-Republican channels. Ben Shapiro is everywhere. Then there are claims that entertainment media pushes leftist ideas on us, and there are a few examples of this, but the reason that we talk about them is because they stand out so clearly against the backdrop of a pro-conservative storyline. If conservatism is nothing more than common sense truth and leftism is incoherent, self-contradictory garbage (exactly how conservative thinkers present it), then it is clear that conservatism dominates media, since most plots make sense.
Another issue I have with Rubin (and most of those he interviews) is his use of the terms “liberal,” “leftist,” and “conservative.” Something I’ve observed in life is that such words have no agreed upon meaning. For example, conservatives tell me it is liberals that are racist, while liberals tell me it is conservatives that are racist. However, I believed there was a rough consensus that whatever “liberal” meant, it was the same thing as “leftist” and “progressive” (whatever those mean). Today, Dave Rubin, Tim Pool, Dennis Prager, and others call leftist what I used to call liberal, and call liberal what I used to call moderate, pragmatic conservativism, separating it from the barely-distinguishable idealist conservativism. Sometimes Rubin will also call himself a “classical liberal,” a term that is difficult to apply to today’s world and one that conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh also once claimed for himself. “Leftism” as Rubin defines it is not new. The average Democrat has been leftist (and not at all liberal) since before I was born. The terminology used on the show is very different than what I grew up with. It’s all very confusing.
Another issue I have with Rubin is his belief that most people are not leftists, but are holding back their voices out of fear. Repeat guest Jordan Peterson says the same. This has not been my experience. I see no shortage of anti-leftist sentiment being expressed. For every woke SJW, there are ten red-pilled meme lords to mock them. The truth is everywhere. You can’t avoid it if you try. If people are still blinded by leftist lies it is only because they choose to be. They are without excuse.
So far, I have been reviewing the Rubin Report rather than Don’t Burn This Book. So what is Don’t Burn This Book about?
The book quickly runs over Rubin’s opinions on the big issues, such as abortion and guns. His opinions are very moderate and commonsense. Where I disagree with him is mostly because I think he has oversimplified things, rather than him being totally wrong.
The book also briefly covers a few of the major hoaxes to make it into the news, such as Russian collusion, the Covington kid, and Jussie Smollett. You can’t trust the news.
The book also gives some life advice, such as: Get news from multiple sources. Look up the original sources. Read books rather than blogs. Think critically. Get the full context of quotes. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something. Dress like the person you want to be. Religious stories give societies cohesion. Most people need to have children to feel fulfilled. Laugh often. You can change the world, but change yourself first. Live unapologetically without compromise; be all you can be. Speak out. If the news outlet always supports one side over the other, it’s probably propaganda.
Finally, he ends with the thought: “The only way to combat this crisis is to get on with our lives as if there isn’t one.” Considering the left’s eagerness to use violence and the court system’s eagerness to violate the law, I am very skeptical that “getting on with our lives” will be allowed, but I’ll concede that attempting to do so might be the least bad option. Let’s hope he’s right, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
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My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.