- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Whatever happened to the culture war?

Groups of girls who call themselves the Most Wanted Honeys cruise the streets and clubs of Washington in search of trouble. Accidentally step on a Honey’s toes while dancing or accidentally brush up against them at a school game, and you’re liable to be the next victim of one of their brutal beatings. Bands of boys whip out their knives and pistols at the slightest hint of oneupmanship. Wink at the “wrong” girl or chafe at a dude being rude, and slash, pow. And, what about that commercial, the one that shows a boy lifting prescription drugs out of the family medicine cabinet? Get the picture?

Adolescents and teens pop pills, smoke dope, suck down booze and engage in sexual behavior that makes Meg Ryan’s nude scene in the new film “In the Cut” look like child’s play. It is enough to make you want to holler, throw up your hands and ask, “What ever happened to the culture war?”

I’m old-school enough to remember the ‘60s, when, with reckless abandon, we did and said as we pleased — free love, free drugs, cheap booze, swap parties. All the world was the Baby Boomers’ stage.

Well, look what we have wrought.

Instead of an aging Granny planning Thanksgiving dinner for the clan, the grandmother of 2003 mocks that image. Across America, she is likely to be a 30-something, struggling as much with her own illiteracy as she is struggling to make ends meet, moving about the kitchen with her teen-age children’s children underfoot.

We were given ample warnings — but heeded none.

We outlawed school prayer.

We outlawed corporal punishment in schools.

We caved to pressure from left field and built open classrooms.

We also, among other things, got rid of the hickory switch — and all that it stood for.

Marriage, we said, is not necessary if a woman wants to be a mother. Then, we flopped. We said, well, two-parent households are indeed better for raising children. Now, we’ve gotten really confused, espousing the foolishness that a man and a man or two women is the same as a husband and a wife. Homosexuals and metrosexuals (straight guys in touch with their feminine side) are out, while heterosexuality is being closeted.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned us in the 1960s, but we were too busy hiding the switch in the closet instead of flailing it. A generation later, Bill Bennett warned us, but we were preoccupied with shooting down the messenger and his Republican boss. Tipper Gore and C. Delores Tucker warned us that the misogynistic lyrics of rap music and the dark underpinnings of grunge were unfit for young ears, but we relinquished our censorship responsibilities to earphones — don’t ask, don’t tell. Instead of asking teens where they are going, who they are going with, and how they are getting there and back, we fell silent.

By not hearing the evil and by pretending that tattoos are cute and harmless, and navel and tongue rings were mere signs of the times — or worse, rights of passage — we breech-birthed ourselves smack into a hellhole called today.

“There’s nothing wrong with children drinking responsibly,” we say out of one side of our mouths, while the other yells “Right on!” to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

And following the end of the Cold War, we told anyone and everyone that the land of the free and the home of the brave welcomes one and all. Want to learn how to lift off in a airplane but not land? C’mon, America’s flight schools will teach you. Want a good-paying job but don’t want to pay taxes like other hard-working Americans? C’mon, Wal-Mart’s a waitin’. Want to give your children a free education beginning at the age of 3? Pick a state in this fabulous union of ours. Want to vote, get a driver’s license, own a home, establish credit, buy a car, serve in a legitimate military, or get free health care and immunizations and hide your true identity? Then, America’s the place for you. Our dreams are your dreams.

We’ve been so busy trying to take care of everybody else, that we’ve neglected our own — our own traditions, our own values, our own children.

We even neglected to nurture Big Mama, the one constant in generations of America who kept everyone in line. Big Mama was no figment of anyone’s imagination who was reared in the values of the Old South (she was both Scarlett O’Hara’s Mammy and busybody Aunt Pitty Pat).

We need, desperately, to resurrect Big Mama. We need her in our schools, where our children are running amok. We need her in city halls, statehouses and on Capitol Hill, where politicians pretend the government is some Big Daddy.

Yeah, Big Mama needs to come back quick and bring her lickin’ stick.

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