Dismantling of a Culture
David Gelernter, the Yale professor of computer science, has an alarming yet cautiously exuberant book out, America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats). He tells us where we are and how and why we got here, and gives readers a pep talk, encouraging them to be the light (not “lite”) we need. He talks about it all with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is there a precise moment where you can say, yes, yes, this is the moment when America went “lite”?
DAVID GELERNTER: The Cultural Revolution itself began right after World War II (when our leading colleges were still in the hands of the generally centrist WASP elite) and culminated around 1970, when intellectuals were in control, and preparing to use these universities as platforms for imposing their worldview throughout the schools’ establishment and cultural elite.
So America went lite starting around 1970. The big change was complete by the 1980s: In ’83, “A Nation at Risk” described the mediocrity of our schools; in ’87, Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind described the intellectual corruption of our universities. Both times, these disasters had (of course) already happened. And Bill Bennett, secretary of education under Reagan from ’85 to ’88, repeatedly drew the nation’s attention to this cultural disaster.
So by (say) 1990, America-Lite was a done deal. Each year since, we’ve seen a new crop of largely ignorant high-school and college graduates (children we have failed to educate) released into an ever dumber and denser cultural atmosphere.
LOPEZ: Is it a bit dramatic to call what’s happened here an actual “cultural revolution”? Was there blood? Mandates?
GELERNTER: American culture had its throat slit and bled to death at our feet. Isn’t that revolutionary enough? The blood is only metaphorical, but to the 40 percent of [all] infants [who are] born to single mothers this year, the consequences will be real.
In a piddling few decades, the world’s most powerful, influential cultural establishment happened to get demolished and rebuilt from the ground up. What had been basically a Christian, patriotic, family-loving, politically moderate part of society became contemptuous of biblical religion, of patriotism, of the family, of American greatness. The American cultural elite used to resemble (more or less) the rest of America. Today it disdains the rest of America. That’s a revolution.
4 pages. What an excellent read!