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Political correctness and so many of the political fashions of our day — from academic feminism to cultural studies to queer theory — could only be perpetrated on adolescent minds: minds, that is, that are trained to search out one thing and one thing only: Is my teacher, or this politician, or that public spokesman, saying something that is likely to be offensive to me or members of any other victim group? Only an adolescent would find it worthwhile to devote his or her attention chiefly to the hunting of offenses, the possibility of slights, real and imagined.br> Left on its own, the adolescent mind even invaded the corporate boardroom: “The trouble with Enron is that there weren’t any grown-ups,” noted one former Enron employee.
IN MAKING HER CASE, West offers up some disturbing — or what should be disturbing — statistics. What to make of the fact that more adults 18-49 watch The Cartoon Network than watch CNN? Or the obscene popularity of toys and video games among “kidults”? Then there are the more visible manifestations of prolonged adolescence: the sloppy, childlike fashions (our Sunday best has become cargo shorts and tennis shoes), and the parroting of the teenager’s argot and vulgarisms. But these trivialities pale besides the serious societal issues that occur when twenty and thirty-somethings are unwilling to live up to their adult responsibilities and honor their commitments (pace deadbeat dads and overly permissive mothers), and when our culture begins to resemble one long high school party punctuated by “an infantile lack of behavioral restraint.”
One major consequence of our permanent adolescence is that Americans have become too self-absorbed and spoiled to understand our many challenges. “Rudderless, the baby boomers developed a values-free, nonjudgmental world view that reached fruition in multiculturalism, a debilitating condition that has left the West virtually powerless to argue for its own interests, to recognize and denounce evil or to resist aggression,” West writes.
West concludes with a stern warning that permanent adolescence puts us at risk before a confident and imperialist political Islam. Not surprisingly her critics have had at her for implying that it takes self-assured grown-ups to recognize and respond to the threats posed to Western Civilization — that immature tree humpers and naked peace marchers are not up to the job. William Grimes of the New York Times dismissed West’s book with the headline “Dress like Your Child, Terrorists win.” Understandably, West’s critics are discomfited. No one likes to hear that his worldview is infantile, and it is all the more unsettling when statistics and research support your thesis.
The permanent adolescent will continue to imagine a Lennon-esque Neverland of peace, plenty and total equality, a utopian dream where there are no borders, no religion, no fascists, no capitalists, no jihadis and no jobs that suck. Most of us, however, have to live in the real world, have families to support, put in 9-hour work days, and in general act our age.
West does not advocate a return to some golden pre-war era, but she does prescribe a booster shot of old-fashioned adult values. Sounding refreshingly like our parents and grandparents before them, West warns that we need to grow up and get serious about life. Preferably before retirement age.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?