Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- "What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," observes Camille Paglia, the learned iconoclast and professor of humanities at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She made that observation in a lengthy interview with The Wall Street Journal, the highbrow newspaper that proves daily that intelligent journalism in America is neither dead nor near bankruptcy as long as it holds to the right values. Paglia was talking about our civilization, and I have nothing to add save one caveat. I recall the late 1970s, when America was pretty much in a heap. Suddenly, along came the oldest president in American history -- a president whom his friend William F. Buckley adjudged too old to govern -- and that president, Ronald Reagan, won the Cold War, revived the economy and still managed long naps in the afternoon.

Miss Paglia, America still has enormous restorative powers, and I think 2014 is going to see those powers revive. Yet for now, you are right.

Today the American scene is bleak, except for a few horselaughs provided by the White House. When I reflect on the nonsensical boasts made for big government and the nanny state and I watch our president slip and fall on yet another government-issued banana peel, you will forgive me, but I double up in laughter. President Barack Obama has been a hoot. Possibly not so amusing as Jimmy Carter, but he comes very close, and I think that history will prove that he brought the entire left-wing project to foozle. The Founding Fathers are redeemed!

Still, there is reason to be alarmed, and the sage from The University of the Arts has put her fingers on all the culprits. The Journal sums them up: "The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead."

Certainly, the values that go into a soldier are dismissed by our cultural institutions, though Hollywood still has a little time for its nonsensical dramaturgical monstrosities about the SEALs and the fiery and clangorous special effects that they supposedly struggle with. "These people (our elite class) don't think in military ways," she says, "so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality." Wait a minute, Miss Paglia. Think of our elites' assessment of Sen. Ted Cruz.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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