Published November 10, 2021
What is the master theme of the 21st century? I’d say it is the vanishing of borders—geographic, political, social, racial, sexual, moral. The age’s obliteration of boundaries and norms has released powerful energies that are sometimes creative, sometimes destructive, and often merely bizarre.
I think of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” a sly parable that amounts, in effect, to a dialogue between its first line (“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”) and its parting maxim (“Good fences make good neighbors”). Two principles are in conflict: 1) Walls naturally tumble, let them go; 2) Unless walls are kept in good repair, social order is apt to disintegrate. Entropy is freedom’s evil twin.
At the moment, the most obvious breach is the one at the southern border. On that frontier, the president has, by dint of inattention or passivity or incompetence, seemed to embrace Frost’s first principle. The wall, after all, was Donald Trump’s . But now Mr. Biden and his party have begun to reflect on the consequences—for their electoral prospects if not for the country—of not maintaining a southern border at all.
The phenomenon is evident in almost all realms. The borderline between men and women has blurred, if only in ideology. New categories of “gender” have emerged, attended by innovations of grammar and vocabulary. Pronouns are enforced with a grim Jacobin zeal. A professor who slips up may face the guillotine.
Mr. Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His latest book is “God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money.”
Lance Morrow is the Henry Grunwald Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His work focuses on the moral and ethical dimensions of public events, including developments in regard to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and political correctness on American campuses, with a view to the future consequences of such suppressions.