Saturday, May 25, 2024

Robert Bork Predicted America’s Current Cultural Rot

America has a failing moral compass, and nearly 30 years ago the late Judge Robert Bork not only predicted it but put this tragedy in its proper perspective.

But before we examine Bork’s writings, let’s assess America’s current predicament. Trying to stop the spread of this moral rot is arguably like America trying to combat and then contain the spread of communism during the Vietnam War. We lost that war. Will we lose this new one?

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The rot started about 60 years ago. We now live in an age where our government discourages work, so much so we have staffing and supply chain shortages. Government programs discourage fathers from sticking around to support their families, thus depriving boys of any kind of male role model.

Public school administrators invite drag queens to read to elementary school students. Children can access online pornography. Men who identify as women compete in women’s sports. In some cities, like San Francisco or New York, elected officials embrace felonious conduct, which, of course, goes unpunished. Our prisons are full of men who grew up without stable fathers. I could go on and on.

Embracing sin is a slippery slope. Conservatives and Christians just cannot seem to contain America’s cultural and spiritual rot.

Of all the terrible side effects, the worst is arguably a generation of young adults who cannot cope with life’s many obstacles. To compensate, they consume mind-altering narcotics. They might attempt suicide or commit mass shootings.

Libertarians tell the political right that trying to contain the rot will backfire and that we must focus on economic issues only.

But is that the best strategy?


In 1996, Robert Bork published Slouching Towards Gomorrah, which chronicled how modern liberalism corrupted American culture and put the country in disarray.

I still have my copy. In my memory, one quote stood out, but, in this nearly 350-page book that I read during its initial release, I cannot find the passage. I’ll paraphrase:

People who want to pollute society are like people who manage the factories that release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. They tell us that if we don’t like the fumes then we don’t have to breathe them. But culture is like the air that we breathe. Asking us to hold our collective breaths is unrealistic. Are we expected to breathe the toxic, cancer-causing air and not complain?

While I couldn’t find that exact passage, I did find another one, in the book’s introduction (again, written in 1996, before society’s morals took an even bigger tumble).

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“With each new evidence of deterioration, we lament for a moment, and then become accustomed to it. We hear one day of the latest rap song calling for killing policemen or the sexual mutilation of women; the next, of coercive left-wing political indoctrination at a prestigious university; then of the latest homicide figures for New York City, Los Angeles, or the District of Columbia; of the collapse of the criminal justice system, which displays an inability to punish adequately and, often enough, an inability even to convict the clearly guilty; of the rising rate of illegitimate births; the uninhibited display of sexuality and the popularization of violence in our entertainment; worsening racial tensions; the angry activists of feminism, homosexuality, environmentalism, animal rights – the list could be extended almost indefinitely,” Robert Bork wrote.

“So unrelenting is the assault on our sensibilities that many of us grow numb, finding resignation to be the rational, adaptive response to an environment (culture) that is increasingly polluted and apparently beyond our control.”

Robert Bork then quoted sociologist Emile Durkheim, who said there is a limit to the amount of deviant behavior any community can “afford to recognize.”

“As behavior worsens, the community adjusts its standards so that conduct once thought reprehensible is no longer deemed so,” Bork wrote.

“As behavior improves, the deviancy boundary moves up to encompass conduct previously thought normal.”

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Sin and debauchery exist and will never go away, but it’s something we must contain to keep society stable. Human nature is human nature and will never change. We are not equipped to handle all these radical cultural changes without horrible aftershocks. And we’re not doing a very good job containing the spread or the damage.

Which brings me back to the Vietnam War analogy.

Have we passed the point of no return of stopping this cultural rot? Does this train of degeneracy only stop once the engineer knows we’ve reached Sodom and Gomorrah? And from there we have nowhere to go but up?

Or are all the political right’s efforts to contain this moral rot succeeding or at least slowing down its progress?

Time will tell.

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