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Burt Prelutsky / Nov. 2, 2019

Why Be a Muslim?

As I'm sure you all know by now, I am not religious. If I were religious, I'd probably be Jewish because it's what my grandparents, who were orthodox, were.

As I’m sure you all know by now, I am not religious. If I were religious, I’d probably be Jewish because it’s what my grandparents, who were orthodox, were. My parents were not religiously observant, so neither was I.

By the time I was of an age to take up a religion, I didn’t see the appeal. For me, religious beliefs raised more questions than they answered. I found I could believe in the Golden Rule and abide by the 10 Commandments without attending a house of worship or abiding by dietary laws that in the 20th century made no sense to me.

That never meant that I didn’t respect those who were religious; it just meant they weren’t me and they were probably grateful for that.

Over the years, I came to be somewhat divided when it came to my Jewish identity. I found that I would be ashamed and resentful when I read about shady Jewish characters like Bernie Madoff; Meyer Lansky; Michael Milken; George Soros; Louis Buchalter; Arnold Rothstein; Leopold and Loeb; Mickey Cohen; Jack Ruby; David Berkowitz, “The Son of Sam;"and the Rosenberg’s, Ethel and Julius.

Worst of all, those creeps never changed their last names. It was only people like Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Kirk Douglas, Albert Brooks, Irving Berlin, Bea Arthur, Harry Houdini, Larry King, Natalie Portman, Paul Muni and Eddie G. Robinson, who felt the need to conceal their true identities.

I still feel myself cringing at the mere thought that I might somehow be related to the likes of Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Adam Schiff, Richard Blumenthal, Rahm Emanuel, Ben Cardin, Ron Wyden, Bernie Sanders, Jerry Nadler, Brad Sherman, Ron Wyden, Michael Bennet and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

In fact, there is a Yiddish word that describes the way I react to reading or hearing the latest comment from one of these people who do their level best to dispel the idea that Jewish people are very bright. The word is shpilkes. It’s defined as a state of impatience, agitation, anxiety, or any combination thereof, with just a dash of nausea tossed in for good measure.

As awful as so many of these Jewish politicians are, at least they’re not out murdering people in the name of their religion. If they were, and if I were religious, I would seriously have to consider converting.

That’s why I don’t understand why so-called decent, peace-loving, Muslims aren’t becoming decent, peace-loving, Christians and Jews. To me, a Muslim in 2019 is the same as a Nazi in 1939. How does someone continue to believe in a God who is apparently okay with his followers killing people who don’t grovel to Islam? This is also a cult-like religion that promotes honor killings, the subjugation of women and the mutilation of female genitalia.

It is also a matter of record that over the past 1,400 years, the Muslims’ major contributions to the world have been car bombs that kill indiscriminately and re-introducing stonings and beheadings as appropriate forms of punishment for everything from adultery to apostasy.


It was very odd to hear all the Fox hosts mouthing all those seemingly sincere compliments about Shepard Smith upon his departure from the network. He has been with Fox since its inception in 1996, and I have disliked him for just about that long.

For a while, I just hated his voice and his snarky facial expressions. Because he hadn’t yet come out of the closet, I wasn’t aware that he was a homosexual. But in retrospect, I did realize he gave off the same vibe that others of his sexual persuasion often do. It’s a combination of smugness and a patronizing attitude towards those whom they contemptuously dismiss as "breeders.”

It was later I came to dislike him because of his obvious bias against President Trump.

Inasmuch as he is only 55 years old, I assume Smith will soon find a home at CNN or MSNBC, and all those Fox hosts who treated his departure the way that the Washington establishment treated John McCain’s death, will begin running video segments of him slandering the breeder in the White House.


After I recently wrote dismissively about those in the acting fraternity who took the Stanislavsky Method too much to heart, I realized why it was that I had such a hard time watching the likes of James Dean, Ben Gazzara, Kim Stanley and Vic Morrow, on screen.

It struck me that the reliance on sense memory translated into the lack of a sense of humor. Apparently, none of its more celebrated proponents ever remembered laughing or smiling or even hearing a joke.

All their recollections seemed to involve being locked in a dark closet or being hoisted off the floor as small children so they could lean into an open casket and kiss some corpse good-bye.

It’s no wonder that their performances were full of shouting, angst and self-pity.

While I wasn’t able to come up with a list of worst movies because I made a concerted effort to avoid the obvious turkeys, I did mention the five or six that were the biggest letdowns.

I have another list to share. These were the ones I regarded as most over-rated by the critics and the Motion Picture Academy: (in no particular order) “Raging Bull,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Taxi Driver,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Ryan’s Daughter,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Professionals,” “Mrs. Miniver,” “Going My Way,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “Hamlet,” “Jaws,” “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “Ben-Hur,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Annie Hall,” “Schindler’s List” and “The Deer Hunter.”

You needn’t bother writing to tell me I’m all wet. I’m aware that I’ve listed some of everybody’s favorite movies. But you wouldn’t want me to lie, would you? I hated all of them.

While I’m in this neck of the woods, I might as well list the actors I think have been the most over-rated: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vanessa Redgrave, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Robert Ryan, Susan Hayward, Jane Fonda and Laurence Olivier. (And, no, I did not take their politics into consideration. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to include people like Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman among my favorites.)


One keeps hearing about how companies like Google and Facebook have been invading our privacy. Theoretically, I am as offended as every other red-blooded American should be. But in reality, when it comes to me personally, I don’t care. I believe that’s because I don’t have any secrets. I mean, perhaps I have, but, if so, even I don’t know about them. As you may have noticed, I’m always spilling my guts about anything that occurs to me that I find the slightest bit interesting.

Plus, I have to admit that when I buy books over the Internet, I appreciate it when the outfit follows up by recommending books, based on my purchases, they think I might enjoy. It’s the sort of thing I had come to expect at bookstores when we still had bookstores.


When I’m not compiling lists or experiencing shpilkes, I like to come up with money-making ideas that I hope others will pick up and run with.

Recently, it occurred to me that the nicest things people ever say about us is when we’re born and when we die. Great, we don’t even know the language when people are cooing over us and announcing to the world that the cutest baby anyone has ever seen has just arrived; and in the second instance, we’re dead and can’t hear people going on about what a wonderful person that adorable baby grew up to be. So, you’re out in the cold both coming and going.

Sometimes, a few kind words are offered up on our birthdays, but they’re lost among the good-natured jibes about our age and the unfortunate effects the years have had on our appearance.

Therefore, I propose a solution, which I’ll call the pre-funeral funeral.

As I see it, the dearly undeparted will lie in a comfortable coffin and listen to all the heart-felt compliments and the amusing, but tasteful, anecdotes that paint the guest of honor as a combination of Mark Twain and Mother Teresa, but maybe just a tad funnier than Twain and slightly less of a publicity hound than the Albanian lady.

Best of all, when it’s all over, you get to climb out and join your friends and family back at the house for the drinks and cold cuts.

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