Is America in Moral Decline? Essay

Total Length: 959 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 3

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Both Hymnowitz (2004) and Bork (1994) address this question, each taking a different stance on the subject. In “Our Changing Culture,” Hymnowitz (2004) adopts an optimistic view, claiming that the younger generations are returning to traditional family values and rejecting the excesses of their parents’ generation. Bork (1994) disagrees, claiming that liberalism’s “rot and decadence” have been leading to the decay of morality in American society—and possibly in Western society in general (p. 6). Both authors occasionally slip into hyperbole, and both make some valid points backed up with references to popular culture, facts, or data. Ultimately, though, Hymnowitz (2004) makes a far stronger rhetorical case: America’s moral character remains strong



Hymnowitz (2004) argues that America is returning to some of its roots family and cultural values, and not necessarily for the better. The author introduces the subject by using examples from popular culture and media and then offers statistics including a lower rate of crime and reduced rates of drug and alcohol abuse. For example, the younger generations are also taking marriage and childrearing more seriously, learning from the mistakes made by their parents. Americans are also embracing the evidence showing that indeed, divorce is bad for children, and that good parenting requires moms and dads to actually spend time with their children at home.



In fact, Hynmowitz (2004) even goes so far as to claim that some young Gen-X adults “resemble their Silent Generation grandparents more than their boomer parents, especially in their longing for suburban nesting as a dreamlike aspiration,” (p. 18). Hymnowitz (2004) attributes many of these shifts in American family values and norms to the increased diversity among young people.
More first-generation immigrants means more conservative attitudes towards work and family, according to the author. Hymnowitz (2004) seems overly eager to prove that generations X and younger are returning to a prior, more idyllic state of morals in America. The author wants to make the case not that America is progressing or moving forward, but that it may be moving backward to a magical time before crass materialism, sex, drugs, and rock and roll took over. Granted, the author may in fact aim to persuade conservative readers that their fears of progress are unfounded.



Many of the seeming signs of moral decay are also superficial, notes Hynmowitz. For example, soccer moms with piercings take pole dancing classes for aerobic exercise. These are not signs of moral decay, just so-called “bourgeois bohemian” trends (Hymnowitz, 2004, p. 19). Millennials are defined by being “sober, hardworking, respectful, and chaste,” (p. 20). Hynmowitz (2004) would strengthen her argument by admitting that she believes American values swing like a pendulum. The excesses of one generation shift towards the conservatism of the next. Instead, the author equates progress with regression, extolling the virtues of suburban middle class life and heterosexual marriage, for example. The author’s tone is optimistic, perhaps overly so, and Hymnowitz (2004) only cites facts, data, and statistics that support….....

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References

Bork, R.H. (1996). Modern liberalism and American decline.

Hymnowitz, K.S. (2004). Our changing culture.

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