It's 'idiotic you can't say the N-word,' says host booked for Manning Centre keynote

The Calgary-based Manning Centre will feature American conservative radio host Dennis Prager as one of its keynote speakers at a conference next month, a fiery and often controversial figure who recently complained that the left has made it “impossible” to say the N-word.

“It’s disgusting, it’s a farce. It’s the only word that you can’t say in the English language,” Prager said in a clip that was initially flagged on Twitter by a writer for U.S. progressive nonprofit Media Matters for America.

Prager was responding to a caller on his radio show, The Dennis Prager Show, who asked Prager why he used an anti-Semitic slur on his program but would not use “the N-word.”

“The left doesn’t give a damn about [anti-Semitic slurs]. That’s why. The left runs the country in the culture,” Prager said. “The Republicans have the Senate and the presidency, and that’s very important. But the culture? And the more the left controls, the more totalitarian it is.”

Prager graded his estimation as a “statement of fact, like two plus two equals four.”

The host went on to say that it is “idiotic” that you can’t use the word but added he did not think people should use the slur in reference to any particular individual.

“Of course you should never call anybody the ‘N-word,’ that’s despicable,” he said. 

Troy Lanigan, president of the Manning Centre, said he had not heard of Prager’s comments before CBC News reached out but he’s “OK with some controversy” as “conservatives tend not to be part of the cancel culture movement.”

“The quote appears to be part of a broader point. He also says ‘you should never call anyone the n-word, that’s despicable,'” Lanigan said in an emailed response, but later added that he doesn’t entirely understand Prager’s point.

Lanigan said Prager was invited to talk about movement building, the success of PragerU, and perhaps the U.S. election, but his thoughts on the “N-word” are “not a subject we’ve asked him to address.”

Lanigan said questions about Prager’s comment would be better directed to Prager’s office, or at the conference in person.

Representatives for Prager have not yet responded to requests for comment.

American author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, writer of Between the World and Me, spoke about why some people and groups can use certain words while others can not during a talk held by Random House in 2017.

“Words don’t have meaning without context,” Coates said. “My wife refers to me as ‘honey.’ That’s accepted and okay between us. If we were walking down the street together and a strange woman referred to me as ‘honey,’ that wouldn’t be acceptable.

“My wife, with her girlfriends, will use the word ‘bitch.’ I don’t join in. I don’t say, ‘Hey, I wanna,’ I don’t do that. And perhaps, more importantly, I don’t have the desire to do that.”

Similarly, Coates told the story of how a white friend of his used to have a cabin that his friend referred to as a “white trash cabin.” Coates said he would never use that language when referring to his friend’s cabin.

“The question one must ask is, why so many white people have difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact, to black people?” Coates said.


Prager’s radio show regularly draws more than two million listeners in the United States but his profile has increased significantly among younger audiences recently with the launch of Prager University (or PragerU), a series of online videos posted on YouTube.

The videos, which have racked up more than 2.5 billion views, package conservative viewpoints into bite-sized content geared largely toward younger audiences who tend to congregate on those platforms.

Dennis Prager, second from right, took part in a town hall meeting in 2016. Prager was initially opposed to Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s nominee in 2016, but later voiced his support for Trump after he became president. (The Associated Press)

Videos tend to take strong angles on hot-button issues in America, coming out in favour of standing for the national anthem or arguing that humans are not the driving force behind climate change.

Despite its name, PragerU is not an accredited university and does not hold classes or grant diplomas.

The Manning Centre was launched in 2005 by Reform Party founder Preston Manning.

Its stated mission is to support Canada’s conservative movement through networking and supporting ideas related to “limited government, free enterprise, individual responsibility and a more robust civil society.”

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