Son, you sure ask tough questions, but I’ll try my best to answer. Having lived a long life (and seen America at both its highest and lowest points) I think I have some insights. Many of those insights came from my parents, rather than mere experience. My mother was the first one to tell me that America would fall from the inside as a result of moral decline – not from some outside threat. She first told me that during the Cold War. I didn’t believe her then, but time has shown just how prescient she was.
I suppose the fall of America could best be traced to a failure to grasp one simple idea; namely, that ideas have consequences. Of course, that also means that bad ideas have very bad consequences.
Most of America’s very bad ideas were born on our college campuses. In fact, they were nurtured during the time that America was strongest. That was some time after the fall of the Soviet Union when we were the world’s lone superpower. The ideas took a while to sink into the larger society. Few people realized what Lincoln knew in the mid-nineteenth century; namely, that one could look at our campuses at any time and see what the culture would look like in twenty years. The larger social consequences of ideas are often delayed by many years.
The first dangerous idea embraced by postmodern America was the idea that one has the right to negate other ideas simply because they cause discomfort. This idea gained acceptance on our college campuses right after the fall of the Soviet Union. It resulted in a weakening of the character of the average college student. In fact, it served a counter-evolutionary function in the sense that it guaranteed that the ideas of the weakest students would be the ones to survive in the intellectual marketplace. It also did much to extinguish humility as a character trait among educated people.
The idea that one has a right to negate ideas simply because one is uncomfortable is narcissistic. Our speech codes reinforced that bad trait while simultaneously reinforcing the bad ideas that accompany it. Unsurprisingly, civility in discourse began to decline in the age of speech codes. It was an Orwellian development. The Ministers of Peace were becoming the Ministers of the Cultural Wars.