Diana West’s excellent new book The Death of the Grown-up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization is one of those rare books that brings the world into clearer focus. 

Although most of the perpetual adolescents of our culture get up and go to work and do many of the things historically associated with being adults, they retain a juvenile attitude born of the sex, drugs, and rock and roll of the sixties. For example, they find it “mean-spirited” or “offensive” to regard Western civilization as more intellectually advanced than, say, Maori culture.

The next time you are accused of being narrow-minded for insisting that a Shakespeare play is superior to a primitive fertility dance, you can say of your detractors: “Oh, well, they just aren’t adults.” Adults can make value judgments. Multiculturalism is the ultimate refusal to make value judgments and thus the ultimate in perpetual adolescence. It is both difficult to truly learn another culture, and childish to insist that they are all of the same value.

Diana West writes that our failure to confront the lethal challenge of jihad is one result of this perpetual adolescence. We prefer multicultural cant to admitting that we face an enemy who would oppress women, kill Jews, and destroy freedom. And just how, you might ask, is this a Thanksgiving column?

When Diana spoke at one of the Independent Women’s Forum’s Living Room Chats last week, she was asked if Western civilization is doomed. Have these perpetual children who refuse to face the perils that beset ensured that our civilization will decline as others have? It might be doomed, Diana said, but the fix is actually pretty simple-we have only to realize that something is amiss and make changes, some of them pretty simple.

With this in mind, I want to note three reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving:

  1. An Impressive Group of Young Women Have Decided to Grow Up-and Reject the Childish Sexual Mores of My Generation: Wendy Shalit, whose new book is Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to be Good, Cassie DeBenedetto, founder of Princeton University’s Anscombe Society (named for Elizabeth Anscombe, one of the great philosophers of the last century), and Dawn Eden, blogger par excellence, who now works with the Newman Society, spoke on a panel held at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy last week. Nobody in my generation would have the guts to advocate chastity or modesty. It wouldn’t be cool. We wanted to be cool, even if it meant a great deal of unhappiness. These young women were all bright, well-spoken, and funny-and yes, they were attractive. They realized that something is amiss and they are trying to explain to other young women that it’s okay if they don’t feel comfortable in coed bathrooms. If you have daughters who are college-aged, you should be even more thankful for these three young ladies than I am.

  2. Our President is a Grown-up: George W. Bush may not talk good, but he is an adult. As an undergraduate at an Ivy League college, he wasn’t attracted to the youth movement that denigrated people like his father. He was a throw-back-and thank heavens! George Bush recognized the threat we faced on September 11. He knew that day that we are at war. He did not think that the attack on America was based on our policies or our insufficiently multicultural attitudes. As a result, he has not wavered. He is not only an adult-he is the most resolute adult on the planet. He doesn’t care if the press, the last bastion of the Peter Pan generation, doesn’t like him.

  3. There are Grown-ups Who Put Their Lives on the Line for Us: The surge is working, and it is because U.S. soldiers, many of them from less pampered backgrounds than the sneering classes, have done the ultimate adult thing, which is to care about future generations more than themselves. A defeat in Iraq would have a profound impact on our ability to defend our civilization. Unlike the multiculturalists ensconced in American universities, our adult soldiers, young men and women, know this.

As you can see, the grown-ups who give us reason to be thankful have gone against the dominant, juvenile culture. It’s hard to grow up, but it’s certainly not impossible. It has been done in the past, and the young men and women mentioned above, plus George Bush, have proved that it is still possible. Happy Thanksgiving!