Sunday, August 15, 2010

Defining Conservatism Up

In 1993, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan published a landmark article, "Defining Deviancy Down: How We’ve Become Accustomed to Alarming Levels of Crime and Destructive Behavior."

Moynihan's point was that instead of dealing with the hard task of getting alarming social destruction and disintegration under control, we've taken to simply watering down our standard of deviancy so that we can continue whistling cheerfully as greater darkness descends.

In pointing all this out, Moynihan, the grand senatorial Democrat, was butting heads with the ideologues of his own party, for whom redefining deviancy was—and still is—a mode of social progress. Sample this stinging bite:

“In 1965, having reached the conclusion that there would be a dramatic increase in single-parent families, I reached the further conclusion that this would in turn lead to a dramatic increase in crime. In an article in America, I wrote: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th Century Eastern seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future—that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure—that is not only to be expected; it is very near to inevitable.”

The left’s response was, as Moynihan later scolded in 1993, to redefine the family to include all deviations. No-strings-attached male sexual predation and single motherhood became normalized (and then subsidized), and then the deluge.


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