Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

They Said It:

St. Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it.  Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.  When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in “ordinate affections” or “just sentiments” will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science.  Plato before him had said the same.  The little human animal will not at first have the right responses.  It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.  In the Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one “who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart.  All this before he is of an age to reason; so that when Reason at length comes to him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.’

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, 1943.

 

THE AXIS OF DEFICIENT EDUCATION.

You may have missed it over the weekend, but a minor internet scuffle of sorts broke out between the protesters at the University of Missouri and their supporters on the one hand and conservative commentators on the other.  As it turns out, some of the protesters and their friends were unhappy that their spotlight had been stolen, a mere week after they had “earned” it, by a bunch of Cheese-eating Frenchmen, who had the gall to go and get themselves killed during boycott-football season.  Writing at Breitbart News, the caustic columnist Milo Yiannopoulos shared the details:

Black Lives Matter and Mizzou protesters responded to the murder of scores of people in Paris at the hands of Islamic extremists by complaining about losing the spotlight and saying their “struggles” were being “erased.”  Their struggles, remember, consist of a poop swastika of unknown provenance and unsubstantiated claims of racially-charged remarks somewhere near Missouri’s campus. . . .

Black Lives Matter and Mizzou tweets fell broadly into two categories of stupid last night:

– Paris and Mizzou are equivalent: both represent “terrorism.” (This is the message from Black Lives Matter.)

–White people are “erasing black lives” by focusing on Paris. (This is the language of the racial grievance-fueled campus social justice movement.)

Yiannopoulos cited several tweets from activists saying such things as “Racist white people kill me, you want everyone to have sympathy for YOUR tragedy, but you have none for ours,” or “Interesting how the news reports are covering the Paris terrorist attacks but said nothing about the terrorist attack at #Mizzou.”  In short, it was nothing more than the usual dumbassery we’ve come to expect from Twitter users in the face calamity:  Hey!  Why are you looking at them?  Look at ME!

Needless to say, other Twitter users fought back, calling the activists disgusting and self-absorbed and all sorts of adjectives you’d expect to be hurled at and by social media enthusiasts.  And then, of course, the Mizzou activists and their defenders responded in kind, accusing those who criticized the initial tweets of being disgusting and self-absorbed lowlifes who were trying to discredit the Mizzou protests or Black Lives Matters or . . . whatever.  And on and on it went.  All of which is to say that it was, more or less, your typical weekend on Twitter.

Now, the interesting thing about this social media scuffle is that it was, in our estimation, entirely unnecessary – and we don’t mean “unnecessary” in the usual social media/twitter sense, i.e. pointless and stupid.  No, in this case, we mean that the fight was unnecessary in the sense that it wasn’t essential to the broader narrative.  The Missouri and Black Lives Matters activists didn’t have to expend any effort to involve themselves in the Paris terrorism story.  They didn’t have to be crass and self-absorbed in order to deflect attention away from another Islamist attack and back onto themselves.  Likewise, those who responded angrily to the activists wasted their breath as well.  You see, the fact of the matter is that the two stories have always been intertwined.  The campus protests, the interminable hunt for white privilege and/or orientalism, the capitulation on the part of universities to the demands of the radical fringes; these are all part and parcel of the story of contemporary Western Civilization and its existential fight against radical Islam.  It’s all interrelated and it’s all, regrettably, a fundamental part of the plotline of 21st century geopolitics.

Think we’re nuts?  Well . . . maybe.  But give us just a moment to explain.

For our money, the two most important and informative stories last week were written by good, old-fashioned conservative scholars, men who have spent enough of their lives in, around, and studying academia to know that the current spate of on-campus madness is nothing new.  The first of these was penned for PJ Media by Michael Ledeen, the onetime consultant to National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and old hand in the foreign policy business.  Early in his career, Ledeen taught at both Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.  In his article for PJ Media, he recalled two earlier bouts of on-campus political hysteria and the effects that they had on the quality of academic scholarship.  To wit:

Universities can’t withstand mobs, as countless assaults have proven.  I’ve lived through two: at Washington University in St. Louis, in 1968, and then about a decade later at the University of Rome.  In the summer of ’68 I saw a good deal of the French “Revolution,” which took over most of Paris for a week or so.  Its headquarters were at the Sorbonne.

It’s in the nature of campus revolts that the leaders aren’t going to be satisfied with limited reforms to the school; they are inspired by inflated rhetoric, and they see themselves at the center of a great moment in world history.  They have, after all, been told that they are the Next Big Thing, the new elite, those destined to govern.  Or rule, as the case may be.  So they must constantly demonstrate their power versus the hated “Establishment.”  That the Establishment gave them these misguided notions is beside the point, it’s part and parcel of the phenomenon, as several professors are being reminded.

So the purge is on, and my guess is that it will get a lot worse before the inevitable reaction sets in.  When I was at Rome U, it was routine for “fascist” professors to be beaten, or locked in elevators, or worse.  One morning a law professor who sat on Italy’s Supreme Court was gunned down in the middle of the campus.  Thereafter, on exam days, the sidewalks were lined with armed police, and rightly so:  some of the student “activists” were real terrorists, they were in the Red Brigades or Potere Operaio or some such . . . .

The result, you ask?

The violent protests only made things worse, as they will here.  The professors quickly realized that giving bad grades was threatening to their health, so everyone got terrific marks.  It didn’t take long for employers to see what was going on, and that it was impossible to distinguish the good students from the terrorists. . . .

The other major result was an exodus of serious professors from the universities. . . . The outcome in the United States was no better.  At Washington University, ROTC and the language requirement were eliminated, hardly a revolutionary triumph.  The paucity of results convinced a generation of radicals that the universities had to be taken over from within, which they did.

The second piece, which nicely follows-up this last point of Ledeen’s, was written by Roger Kimball, the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the author of Tenured Radicals, the celebrated critique of American higher education and its profession al inhabitants.  Although Kimball too writes for PJ Media, his piece was published over the weekend by the Wall Street Journal.  He noted the following:

What is happening [at Yale and Missouri]?  Is it a reprise of the late 1960s and 1970s, when campuses across the country were sites of violent protests?  In my book “Tenured Radicals: How Politics Have Corrupted Our Higher Education,” I showed how the radical ideology of the 1960s had been institutionalized, absorbed into the moral tissues of the American educational establishment.

As one left-wing professor wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “After the Vietnam War, a lot of us didn’t just crawl back into our literary cubicles; we stepped into academic positions.  With the war over, our visibility was lost, and it seemed for a while — to the unobservant — that we had disappeared.  Now we have tenure, and the work of reshaping the universities has begun in earnest.”

Kimball went on to describe the rise of the “crybully,” the dominant player in the campus dramas of the day, which is fascinating in its own right.  But for our purposes today, it’s his bit about the “radical ideology of the 1960s” being “institutionalized and absorbed into moral tissues of the American educational establishment” that concern us most.  In a follow-up article to his scandalous exposure of the American academy, Kimball noted that, if anything, his book had “erred on the side of understatement.”  The radicals were indeed ensconced in higher education.  But more than that, they had forever changed the tenor of American education, spending most of the previous couple of decades preparing and advancing a powerful new ideology.  In the January, 1991 issue of his own New Criterion, Kimball described that ideology thusly:

What is new is the extent to which the constellation of radical trends that dominate the teaching of the humanities at many of our best institu­tions has found common cause in the rise of a new political ideology: the ideology of multiculturalism.  Notwithstanding the emanci­pationist rhetoric that accompanies the term, “multiculturalism” as used in the academy today is not about recognizing genuine cul­tural diversity or encouraging pluralism.  It is about undermining the priority of Western liberal values in our educational system and in society at large.  In this sense, multicul­turalism provides a convenient umbrella for the smorgasbord of radical ideologies now regnant in the academy.  The one thing your literary deconstructionist, your Lacanian feminist, your post-structuralist Marxist, your New Historicist, and your devotee of what goes under the name of “cultural stud­ies” can agree on is that the Western humanis­tic tradition is a repository of ideas that are naïve, repressive, or both.

At the center of the multicultural impera­tive is the assumption that all cultural life is to be explained in political terms, preeminently in terms of gender, race, class, and ethnic origin.  In other words, categories of thought that have their home in the social sciences are imported into the arts and humanities and granted the status of golden explanatory keys.  In good Marxist fashion, culture is denied autonomy and is reduced to being a coefficient of something else: class relations, sexual oppression, racial exploitation, etc.  Questions of artistic quality are systemati­cally replaced with tests for political relevance, even as the whole realm of aesthetic experience is “demythologized” as an in­sidious bourgeois fiction designed to con­solidate the cultural hegemony of the ruling class.  The thought that there might be some­thing uniquely valuable about culture taken on its own terms, that literature, for example, might have its own criteria of achievement and offer its own distinctive satisfactions that are independent of contemporary political battles — none of this seems to matter or indeed to be seriously considered by our multiculturalist radicals. . . .

Implicit in the politicizing mandate of multiculturalism is an attack on the idea of a com­mon culture, the idea that, despite our many differences, we hold in common an intellec­tual, artistic, and moral legacy, descending largely from the Greeks and the Bible, supplemented and modified over the cen­turies by innumerable contributions from diverse hands and peoples.  It is this legacy that has given us our science, our political in­stitutions, and the monuments of artistic and cultural achievement that define us as a civilization.  Indeed, it is this legacy, insofar as we live up to it, that preserves us from chaos and barbarism.  And it is precisely this legacy that the multiculturalist wishes to dispense with.  Either he claims that the Western tradi­tion is merely one heritage among many — and therefore that it deserves no special al­legiance inside the classroom or out of it — or he denies the achievements of the West altogether.  As a student at Williams College patiently explained to me when I spoke there recently about some of these issues, “You are telling us, Mr. Kimball, that we under­graduates ought to focus our attention on the monuments of Western civilization.  But you don’t seem to understand that Western civilization is responsible for most of the world’s ills.”

Now, regular readers will recognize in this statement from Kimball a handful of the themes that have dominated our work over the last quarter century.  The first and perhaps most important of these themes is that of the “clash of moral codes,” the war for the hearts and minds of the nation between the traditionalists and the post-modernists/moral relativists.  We have long argued that most of the more profound ideological and political battles in this country can be interpreted in terms of the old moral code vs. the new moral code.  Or as we put it way back in 1998:

One side in this conflict can be described as traditional Judeo-Christian.  The foundation of this belief system was established some 3,300 years ago with the receipt of the Decalogue by Moses at Mt. Sinai.

Besides Old and New Testament teachings, interpreted and clarified by such scholars as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who integrated Platonic and Aristotelian concepts respectively, this system embraces a host of traditions, customs and mores that developed in Western society over many centuries.  It is supported by a rich heritage of art and literature, and historic struggles, both religious and secular.  The twin concepts of “sin” and “truth” help bind this system together.

The opposing system espouses beliefs that are often referred to today as “post-modern.”  This system is roughly based on the concept that there are no ultimate, overarching truths, and that judgments about right and wrong are little more than the means by which some people control others, or as Nietzsche, an icon of the movement, put it, the outward expressions of will and power.

The only “sin” recognized by adherents to this system is making judgments about the choices of others.  The concepts of “right” and “wrong” are considered to be wholly subjective.  Individuals are encouraged to make up their own minds about such things, and neither society nor any person has a right to “judge” those decisions.

Bill [Clinton]’s first Surgeon General, Dr. Jocelyn Elders, stated this view succinctly once when she was asked whether it was wrong for a teen-aged girl to have a child out of wedlock.  She replied, “No.  Everyone has different moral standards.

As Kimball reported, this conflict was fought in the academic arena before it was fought in society more generally.  And for the most part and with a few notable exceptions, the new moral code won on campus and won decisively.  Indeed, for most of the last several decades – since at least the 1970s and in totality since the late ‘80s/early ‘90s – the advocates of and adherents to the post-modern/moral relativist/multicultural code have dominated the academy and the humanities in particular.  All of which is to say that everyone who has studied the humanities has been exposed to radical, leftist, ideological scholarship and little else.  Students wishing to experience and understand the humanities from the collected wisdom of Western Civilization have largely been forced to pursue these ends on their own or, on rare occasion, in conjunction with a holdover, “reactionary” professor.

This brings us to the second of our overriding themes, that being that a majority of our ruling class are victims of this woeful educational establishment, which makes the problem far more serious than the amusing fact that a large number of college students and graduates think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife and have no idea who fought in World War II or when it occurred.  We put it as follows in a piece from this past June:

We think that [CNN Anchor Fredricka] Whitfield is probably your average, everyday late-Boomer/early Gen-X-er type, who used the words “courageous and brave” to describe a wannabe cop killer because she didn’t know what other words to use.  She probably meant to say that the shooter was “brazen” or “brash,” instead of “courageous” and “brave.”  But she simply couldn’t articulate her thoughts.  And she couldn’t articulate her thoughts because she’s kinda stupid – or, more accurately, “poorly educated.”  And of course, in being “poorly educated” Whitfield is a perfect example of a large cohort within her generation, and all those that have followed.

Now, longtime readers may remember that we spent much time during the 1990s discussing the sad state of the American education system, often quoting from documents, studies, and reports.  The most notable of these was a report published in 1983 by President Reagan’s National Commission of Excellence in Education, from which we quoted time and again.  It was titled “A Nation at Risk,” and famously stated that “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”  That was, by the way, 32 years ago – more than two and half generations, to be precise.  And there has been little of evidence of improvement in the meantime and great evidence that things have worsened.

After we left Now-Defunct Firm #1 and began working at Now-Defunct Firm #2 in 2001, we were encouraged by some of our new superiors there to approach the education issue a little more delicately.  [Our boss’s wife being a putative “educator.”] Actually, we were encouraged to approach ALL issues a little more delicately, which explains why we left Now-Defunct Firm #2 roughly a year after landing there.  In any case, while at Firm #2, we didn’t write much about education, and the issue subsequently disappeared from our oeuvre after 9/11, having been displaced by seemingly more pressing matters.

In retrospect, that was a terrible mistake on our part.  Not only does education matter a great deal, it actually matters more, not less, in the post-9/11 world.  If we had realized that then, we might have done a better job of forecasting what is taking place at the moment.  Many of this great nation’s current troubles can, we think, be chalked up one way or another to the “act of war” that the NCEE recognized just over three decades ago.

You see, the problems created by the failed American education system are far greater than simply failing to teach some dim-bulb news anchor how to speak.  They are massive and widespread.  They spring like baby spiders from an egg in virtually every phase of the system from preschool to college.  These problems include a lack of rigor, a scarcity of competent instructors, ideologically biased subject matter, grade inflation, excessive attention to “creative thinking,” the “fetishization of contrariness”. . . etc., etc. ad nauseam. . . .

Evidence of this tragedy is everywhere.  A case in point is the current generation of political leaders, the late Baby Boomers like Barack Obama, who attended America’s elite institutions only to be force-fed Leftist pabulum.  For example, if one is taught to believe that the United States is a typical Western colonial power that has done nothing more than use and exploit the less fortunate people and nations of the world, then one is predisposed to conduct foreign policy with the predisposition that the exercise of American military and economic power is, by definition, malevolent.  Likewise, if one is taught to believe that truth is subjective and that language is but a means by which power relationships are created and manipulated, then one is likely to spend a great deal of time obsessing about words and utilizing them as expressions of power and of moral standing. . . .

We could fill up quite a few pages blathering on about the policy disasters related to the educational deficiencies of the members of the Obama administration.  But believe it or not, that’s not really the point of this piece.  Yes, Obama – and indeed all of the ruling class elites in his generation – has been ill served by the educational experiments performed upon him.  And, by extension, the country has been equally ill served.  Unfortunately, that’s the good news.  The bad news is that it’s going to get a great deal worse.  The late-Boomers/Gen-X-ers were at least taught something, even if it was post-modern garbage.  Their successors have been taught nothing and WILL be taught even less in the future.

Last month, we read an interview with our old friend Angelo Codevilla, who happens to be a real foreign policy expert.  He is currently professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.  He served as a U.S. Navy officer, a foreign service officer, and professional staff member of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate.  His books and articles range from French and Italian politics to the thoughts of Machiavelli and Montesquieu to arms control, war, the technology of ballistic missile defenses, and a broad range of international topics.  Codevilla’s words were severe and unforgiving.  And they were frightening as well.  On the state of higher education, he said the following:

I saw higher education as a student and as a professor. . . .

Now grade inflation and that has taken hold, and the amount of work that I can demand as a professor of students dropped through the floor.  Standards have dropped through the floor.  We are graduating semi-literates.  The only remaining bastions of serious education are in the technical fields.  Strictly technical fields.  There are all sorts of courses out there that purport to be technical and they are not.

The level of preparation of students coming into college is abysmal, literary and scientific.  It’s a different world.  We’re educating a generation of morons. . . .

So . . . what, you ask, is the point of all of this?  Well, it’s actually pretty simple.  Almost 50 years ago – in or around the summer of 1968 – the Western world’s higher education system began moving toward intellectual absurdity.  Radical students took Columbia University.  They took the Sorbonne.  They destroyed American higher education and they nearly destroyed France itself.  In due time, the radicals, who compromised their own education by placing their emotions and desires ahead of the collected wisdom of the ages, became the “intellectuals,” which is to say that they heeded Antonio Gramsci’s advice and took over the institutions of higher education from the inside.  These “tenured radicals” subjected their own students to ideology masquerading as education, ensuring that their students’ education was even more haphazard and ineffectual than their own.  And so has it gone through successive generations of intellectuals, students, and radicals.  Over the course of the decades, the old mission of the higher education establishment – i.e. to edify the students and to civilize the human animal – gave way to a new mission, to spread the ideology of multiculturalism.

As a result, today, we are left two significant and related problems.  First we have an education establishment that is, for the most part, intellectually stunted.  The academy today imparts not knowledge or wisdom, but opinion and ideology.  It does not edify its students, but rather tries to indoctrinate them, to convince them that dogma and knowledge are the same things, that the laws, ideas, notions, morals, and intellectual pursuits of their elders were incompatible with enlightenment and therefore must be tossed aside in favor of new, more “inclusive” and more empathetic “scholarship.”

What we are left with, in short, is a radical movement at a major state university, sponsored, encouraged, and aided by a professor of communications and honorary professor of journalism who neither understands nor appreciates the First Amendment and whose CV reads like it was written by the staff of National Lampoon or Mad.  Professor Melissa Click – last seen asking for “muscle” to remove a student photographer from a “safe space” – boasts “research” publications that include such titles as:  “Let’s Hug It Out, Bitch”: Audience response to hegemonic masculinity in Entourage, and “More drinkin’, less thinkin’, fewer teeth, and beer”: Representations of class in CMT’s “My Big Redneck Wedding,” and “research” grants including such gems as A&S Alumni Organization Faculty Incentive Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support initial research on the PBS children’s series Thomas the Tank Engine. February 2010 and Richard Wallace Faculty Incentive Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support research on readers’ reactions to the messages in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series. April 2013.

Humanities education in the United States has become a joke – a sad, sick, twisted joke.  And the protests at Yale and especially the University of Missouri demonstrate just how far the idea of “higher education” has fallen.

Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it.  The second, related problem is the fact that we are left with a ruling class that doesn’t understand the world, has never read or tried to understands the classics and their lessons, and actually believes that Western Civilization is the problem, not the solution to the world’s ills.  Yesterday, when asked about his planned response to the Paris terrorist attacks, American President Barack Obama replied that:

What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France.  I’m too busy for that.

This is an amazing, jarring statement.  It is, however, unsurprising.  As we’ve noted countless times before in these pages, Barack Obama has two Ivy League degrees and yet appears to know almost nothing.  As a graduate of Columbia, of course, and Harvard Law, Obama was inculcated with the best and smartest-sounding leftist pap money could buy.  He studied under, learned from, admired, and worked with some of the greatest educational charlatans in contemporary America.  He venerated and publicly praised Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell, one of the nation’s preeminent legal “critical theorists.”  Barack Obama is incapable of violating the principles of the multicultural ideology he was taught.  He is incapable of naming the enemy, of acknowledging the Islamic nature of the “Islamic State.”  He is incapable of articulating and defending American interests and, as he says, of pursuing such outdated and Euro-centric notions as “American leadership” or “American victory.”  He is, in short, a willing victim of the educational malpractice perpetrated on him by the “tenured radicals” of a generation ago.

But he is not alone.  French President Francois Hollande is an avowed socialist who attended university in Paris a scant seven years after the “French Revolution” of 1968.  He too spent his formative years wallowing in the filth of radicalism and educational fanaticism.  He may know more about the world than Barack Obama, but then again, he may not.  The radical educational revolution in Europe – and especially in France – was longer-lived than in the United States and equally transformative.  Clearly, as a socialist, Hollande learned very little of any use in his studies, though we might be inclined to believe he learned a bit more than Obama.

As for Obama’s would-be successors, they too are ignorant of the wisdom and knowledge contained in the classics.  In a piece for the New Yorker this week, Ryan Lizza notes that “None of the Democrats has a strategy for ISIS.”  Is anyone surprised by this?  Lizza starts his piece noting that “Bernie Sanders was a sixties radical who applied for conscientious-objector status during the Vietnam War, because he was, according to a statement from his campaign spokesman earlier this year, ‘a pacifist.’”  In other words, Sanders was one of the original radicals.  And so, for that matter, was Hillary Clinton, who graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and Yale Law in 1973, and proceeded to marry a man who protested against his own country while abroad and who, by his own admission, “abhorred” the military.  As for the other guy, Martin O’Malley, he went to school in the 1980s, at the height of the New Establishment’s multicultural experimentation.  Tell the truth:  Is anyone even remotely shocked that roughly 24 hours after the attacks in Paris, none of the Democratic candidates would label the terrorists “Islamic” or even “Islamist”?  Like Obama, they’ve been indoctrinated with the ideology, and they can’t bring themselves to stray from the orthodoxy in any small way.

Sadly, we’re not entirely sure that the story is much better on the Republican side, though we can hope that the type of people who would go on to become motivated conservative politicians would also have been motivated enough to take some personal control of their education.  We won’t say that applies to all of the candidates, of course, but we do think it applies to at least a couple and hope that it applies to more than that.

Even so, we don’t exactly rest easy with the prospect of a Republican president.  Indeed, the presumed frontrunner among the professional politicians, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, has made a habit in the last few months of disparaging the humanities.  As you may or may not recall, last June, when Rubio popped off the last time about the pointlessness of Greek philosophy, we responded with a quote from Plato that explained why the Senator could not be more mistaken if he tried:  ““Man . . . is a tame or civilized animal; never the less, he requires proper instruction and a fortunate nature, and then of all animals he becomes the most divine and most civilized; but if he be insufficiently or ill- educated he is the most savage of earthly creatures.”

The fact of the matter is that proper education in the humanities is the key both to civilizing the human animal and to understanding him.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have been reminded – thanks to the students at Yale and the University of Missouri – about the damage done to the study of said humanities by leftist radicals for the better part of half-a-century.  This past Friday, of course, we were reminded in vivid detail of the consequences of that damage.

The members of our present generation of political leaders don’t have the foggiest idea how to deal with an avowed enemy, or even why they should deal with said enemy, given the West’s and America’s roles as the primary evil force in their moral universe.  The next generation will, we fear, be even more useless.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an Islamic scholar.  His counterpart in this war, Barack Obama, is an ignorant buffoon.  As Michael Ledeen noted in his article on the unrest on college campuses:  “You can see the results in the Obama administration, dominated by ideology and very short on real information (among other things, this president has set a record for errors of fact in prepared speeches).  Those people, who cannot get their facts straight, are the products of the ‘revolutionary’ university.”

The West is facing an existential threat from a highly ideological enemy.  And yet because of his own ideology, the purported “leader of the free world” cannot even name the enemy, much less assess his plans.  The radicals have won.  And for now, at least, the rest of us have lost.

And that brings us, at long last and regrettably, to a third of our longstanding themes reflected in the events of the last couple of weeks.  For years, we have driven home the message that the battle for America will not be won in Washington but in the homes, the churches, the school rooms, and the entertainment and news centers of the nation, where the moral and ethical values of citizens are formed.  We therefore find it disquieting that the politicians on both sides of the aisle argue endlessly about such things as deficits, tax codes, bureaucratic waste, and employment numbers, without ever thinking to mention the sickness that is responsible for these and many associated problems and which continues to fester within the nation’s cultural institutions.

The good news is that voters may well elect a solidly conservative President next year.  And they may give him or her a solidly conservative congress.  Additionally, “PC” may well have peaked, as some commentators have suggested.  And all of that will be a sign that Americans may be getting tired of the status quo.  The catch is that all of that, in isolation, will result in nothing more than a slowdown in the cultural decay that infects the nation.  The Reagan Revolution slowed the rot, halted the decay momentarily.  But because that fight was fought and won primarily in Washington, the gains made in the ‘80s disappeared almost overnight in the ‘90s.  The sickness that plagues the nation must be attacked at the root, far from Washington.  That will take real guts.  And lots of it.  The enemy is enormously strong and deeply entrenched.  Worse still, because of its own cultural near-hegemony, it is the ubiquitous face of righteousness and decency, even as its actions promote the opposite.

 

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