BORKING THE CULTURE
12:00 AM, Oct 21, 1996 • By TOD LINDBERG
A tony elite may make a buck, garner status, and wreak havoc by wallowing in the mire or by trying to impose an egalitarian and individualist vision on people. It would be foolish to deny or minimize the problems this causes. But there is a price to be paid for indulging it. Sometimes (Tupac Shakur is dead) members of the elite themselves pay a price -- though, to be sure, rarely, since money and status offer insulation from the folly of their actions.
A far more serious price attaches to the folly of those who have not arrived in the top quintile, but perhaps aspire to it, or at least to their own advancement. A young woman of modest talent and humble origin who gets into Brown on a scholarship and decides to devote her time there to an exploration of gender politics and her own lesbian side -- well, she may miss an opportunity. Similarly, an immigrant who disdains the cultural imperialism implicit in the English language and boycotts learning it is, precisely, not going to go far. By and large, the young woman and the immigrant know this, or at least their parents do.
Common sense is a substantial counterweight to the pile of moral and intellectual depravity Bork has heaped on one side of the scale. It is tempting to attribute the one-sidedness to the unique persecution Bork endured at the hands of a cultural elite bent on keeping him off the Supreme Court. But that's unfair to the man; his conservatism and cultural pessimism have deeper and profounder roots than that. In the end, the case he makes in Slouching Towards Gomorrah is one we are obliged to confront and take seriously, even if it is not finally persuasive and even if its relentless morbidity leads the author himself into such occasional flights of perversity as a faux longing for the return of the Berlin Wall.
Tod Lindberg is the editorial page editor of the Washington Times.