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"Where Are These Kids Going To Learn Such Things?"
By Ed Driscoll · June 5, 2008 12:24 PM · The Return of the Primitive

Andrew Klavan, the author of True Crime, adopted by Clint Eastwood for the big screen, albeit in a slightly bowdlerized form, visits an inner city fourth grade class, and comes away noting:

Beating poverty in America nowadays is largely a matter of personal behavior. Get a high school diploma, don’t have kids until you’re married, don’t get married until you’re 21, and you probably won’t be poor. It also helps if you work hard, show up on time, act courteously, and avoid anything felonious.

But where are these kids going to learn such things? It’s the stuff you just sort of absorb in a healthy, traditional, two-parent home, and that’s exactly what they’re missing. If they learn what they’ve lived, they’re done for—the girls too likely to “come out pregnant” like their mothers, the boys to be underemployed and maybe even do time.

You can’t legislate responsibility, either. Personal behavior in a free society has to be a matter of choice—choice without which there is no virtue—virtue without which a society can’t be free.

It seems to me that leaves these kids only one recourse: the culture. Where the institution of family is broken, only the surrounding culture can teach people the inner structures required for a life of liberty.

Many conservatives often seem to have given up on culture or not to care. There’s a strong strain of philistinism on the right. When we talk about “culture wars,” we usually mean preventing the courts from redefining marriage or promoting abstinence instead of birth control: culture, in other words, as the behavioral branch of politics.

Culture, in the true sense, is more than that. It’s the whole engulfing narrative of our values. It’s the stories we tell. Leftists know this. These kids get an earful from the Left every day. Their schools serve up black history in a way guaranteed to alienate them from the American enterprise. Their sanctioned reading list denies boys the natural fantasies of battling villains and protecting women from harm. Any instinct the girls might have that their bodies and their self-respect are interrelated is negated by the ubiquitous parable of celebrity lives. And I hardly need mention the movies and TV shows that endlessly undermine notions of manly self-discipline, feminine modesty, patriotism, and all the rest.

Conservatives respond to this mostly with finger-wagging. But creativity has to be answered with creativity. We need stories, histories, movies of our own. That requires a structure of support—publishing houses, movie studios, review space, awards, almost all of which we’ve ceded to the Left.

There may be more profitable businesses in the short run. The long run, as always, depends on the young. If you want to win their hearts, you have to tell them stories. I have reason to believe they’ll listen.

It's all part of the Great Relearning, especially important when the rest of culture is essentially ashamed of any history that's prior to 1968.



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