Once upon a time, "family values" were simple. Family values were about creating a moral basis for family life, protecting the children before they reached maturity, helping the young grow up breathing free, developing independent minds firmly rooted in an undiluted understanding of right and wrong.
That still does it for most of us. But since 9/11, the stakes are new and different, and issues of foreign policy, once the preserve of policy wonks, can't be separated from how we raise our children. How we see our place in the world can't be separated from what we teach our children.
Law and order was once the overriding domestic issue within the concept of family values. Now law and order encompasses the way we confront the world. David Gelernter recalls in the Weekly Standard an infamous crime of 40 years ago in New York City. A young woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed repeatedly and died on the streets of Queens crying to her neighbors for help. For nearly an hour, 38 of these neighbors, later identified by the New York Times, heard her cries and did nothing: "Oh my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me."
Some of those alarmed by her screams rushed to their windows, turned on lights in their bedrooms and twice frightened the killer enough to make him run away from his victim, only to return minutes later to stab again when no one arrived to fight him off, or even to call the police. The screams documented a profound apathy. The neighbors didn't want to get involved. They were scared. The event was far away. Someone else could do something about it. The neighbors had their own families to protect. It wasn't any of their business.
The neighborhood gave a collective shrug. A collective shrug is all that the liberals and the left think that George W. Bush and the rest of us should have given Saddam Hussein. Saddam invaded his neighbors, poisoned the Kurds, tortured his critics and enemies, set out to acquire and build weapons of mass destruction, and thumbed his nose at the rest of the world. The plaintive scream of the Iraqi people, observes David Gelernter, is the collective equivalent of Kitty Genovese's death cries: "Oh, my God! Please help me! Please help me!"