The United States is fraying at the seams.
Perhaps because I am an attorney, what stands out for me is the erosion of standards of lawful behavior. It has become commonplace to see videos of people violently assaulting total strangers. Mobs of teens in Chicago riot, loot and set cars on fire, and the mayor makes excuses. Individuals walk into drugstores, department stores, even luxury boutiques and leave with armfuls of stolen items. The thefts are done with impunity, as if the thieves know that employees and owners who try to stop them or defend themselves face a greater likelihood of consequences — including prosecution — than the criminals themselves do.
This phenomenon isn’t confined to the poor or disenfranchised. Earlier this year, students at Stanford Law School heckled and screamed obscenities at a federal judge who had been invited to speak there. Similar incidents have taken place on campuses across the country. Pundits were aghast. These are the elites, they said, the creme de la creme of society. What did this behavior portend for the future of the legal profession? Our future leaders?
Excuse me, but have you looked at the present state of the legal profession? The corruption of our present leaders?
The “Russia collusion” hoax revealed not only that our FBI and Department of Justice launched a multimillion-dollar federal investigation based upon information they knew was false (and paid for by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s political campaign), but that they lied to federal judges and Congress about it. Those same weaponized agencies have been targeting American Catholics and other conservatives as “extremists” and potential domestic terrorists.
Democrat attorneys are falling all over themselves to get indictments against former President Donald Trump. They are perfectly willing to fabricate charges, withhold evidence and criminalize constitutionally protected political disputes and speech. Legal experts Jonathan Turley, Alan Dershowitz, John Hinderaker, Margot Cleveland and Andrew McCarthy have criticized these indictments as flawed and frivolous. But those behind them already know they can’t get convictions that will survive legal challenge; the point is to smear Trump, cripple his presidential campaign and destroy his chances of reelection.
Abuse of power to obtain a partisan political victory is shortsighted to say the least. Precedent and human nature being what they are, turnabout quickly becomes “fair play,” meaning not just retaliation, but escalation. In other words, the laws your side broke to get your “enemies” will be used by your enemies to get you — and your political allies, friends and family members. To quote Sean Connery’s character, Chicago cop Jim Malone, in the film “The Untouchables”: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”
That’s how things are done in so-called banana republics — countries where raw power replaces the rule of law. It is not the way things were designed to work here, but it’s where we’re headed.
There is a biblical aspect to what’s happening in America. The Old Testament is rife with instances where the people of Israel turned away from God’s precepts. When that happened, they were warned by the prophets to repent and return to God. When they did so, they continued to be prosperous and safe. But when they did not, they were overrun by their enemies, cast out of their lands and enslaved.
In my view, these accounts describe consequences even more than they do punishments per se. In other words, the God who loves us has provided principles by which humans must live if they want peaceful, civilized societies that are protected from evils both internal and external. He also warns, however, that if we reject those principles, everything we have built will fall apart.
The Founders of our nation shared a similar understanding. The United States was founded upon the then-radical notion that all men are created equal, with God-given rights to life and freedom (up to a point). But the drafters of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution wrote in many other places that the individual liberties and limited government promised by those documents were only possible in a population capable of self-governance grounded in morality.
John Adams famously said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” George Washington said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” James Madison, too, affirmed that the U.S. Constitution presupposed “sufficient virtue among men for self-government.” Without that, he warned, “nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”
We are walking proof of these truths. Consider: in the aftermath of the sexual revolution, broken families and absent fathers are commonplace. That, in turn, has increased poverty, crime and incarceration. Our young people have skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness. Homelessness is increasing in our cities.
We could admit that the social experiments we’ve indulged in have been failures. But we don’t. Instead, we rationalize away the consequences of these failed experiments and craft policies that guarantee things will get worse.
Rather than addressing causes of mental illness or treating substance abuse, we allow homelessness to expand. Instead of protecting private property, we decide not to prosecute theft. When residents and businesses leave, we pretend not to understand that people prefer safety to anarchy.
When students’ behavior in schools is bad, rather than addressing the causes, we criticize disciplining the bad behavior. So, we get more of it — and worse. Students are now bringing guns to school and shooting their teachers, or knocking them unconscious with their fists. Guns and fists existed 50, 75, 100 years ago — what changed? When students do poorly in schools, we remove the achievement tests, entrance exams and other assessments designed to identify academic competencies. So, we end up with widespread illiteracy.
These are but a few examples, but they should be ample warnings. The moral collapse of a people always precedes the political and economic collapse. Will we learn from the past, admit our mistakes and reform? Or stubbornly persist until this great country is destroyed?
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