The Death of the Grown-up: A Dangerous Truth

Is America’s apparent weakness in the War on Terror caused by our perpetual adolescence?  So says Washington Times Columnist Diana West in her new book, “The Death of the Grown-up.”

West, who was born and raised in Hollywood (the daughter of a rare conservative Hollywood scriptwriter) claimed she has been “preparing to write this since I was born.”

The average video gamester in America is 30, people as old as 25 are reading young adult-level literature and more adults are watching the cartoon network than CNN. The country seems to be faced with an epidemic of eternal youth or at least the craving for it, as West argues in her book.

West claims that the this deterioration began in the 1950s, but began playing out after 1964, when what we know as “the greatest generation” became captivated by the sexual revolution, the youth market took over, “teenager” was added to the English lexicon and rock n’ roll became the “singular most transforming” movement of the post-boomer age bracket.

When power and money fell into youthful hands, said West, “it validated an adolescent frame of mind…when before, you just marched right through [adolesence].”

West spoke of a family friend — clearly middle age — who insisted on being called “Bob” instead of “Mr. Smith” because he wasn’t “old enough” to be a “Mr.” This, she explained, was a classic example of the grown-ups’ resistance against maturity.

She opined on the “disappearance of boundaries of behavior, hierarchies of authority and defining of community” as markers of adulthood gone missing in a time when such qualities need strengthening to prevail against threats to the American way of life.

A defining point in the book asserts that multi-culturalism has been a major agitator in “the death of grown-ups.” West asserted that multi-culturalism was, in fact, “juvenile” because it “requires a kind of non-judgmentalism to be perpetuated.”

Children are taught that America is no greater than any other country, that the way others live is simply “their culture.” However, West pointed out, to say that a country that has brought hope and freedom to the world is not superior to one that has suppressed human rights or prevailed in dictatorship, is to defy truth for the sake of “equality.”

West said there cannot be a “culture clash” when the West has “muffled itself” under the noise of Islamic demands. The childish nature of hiding, passivity and refusal to recognize the value of hard work is played out in the media as well.

“The media has a hard time looking up at a warrior,” said West, mentioning that rescued soldier Jessica Lynch got so much publicity because the media could “look down at the victim.” She said the same was true for the attention paid to POW’s of the Vietnam conflict — they were heroes but victims too.

The military is one place West does see the traditional virtues of adulthood being fed though she said she is “surprised America produces men of this caliber.”

West argues that the “arrested development” has caused a “loss of identity” in America and therefore, weakens our fight against Islamic terrorism because we can’t even define good and evil. The book asserts a “social bias against maturity” and that, West said, has created a “bleak outlook” for the future.

“But that is quite handily reversed,” she said:  “Most do have an inner grown-up to call on.” Most, that is, of those on the right side of the political equation.  Maybe those on the left should be the subject of another whole book.