If you haven't read it, and especially if you haven't heard of it, a good book to read on what's happening in the United States today is Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah. In it, the former federal judge expresses his concerns about the twin problems our nation faces today: those of radical egalitarianism and radical individualism as empathized by the liberals of American society over the last several decades. We see perhaps and example of both maladies on display currently in Jersey City, New Jersey, where a police officer was slain in an ambush allegedly set by a gunman.
The gunman, Lawrence Campbell, was shot and killed by Jersey City officers after he supposedly killed officer Melvin Santiago this past Sunday in front of a Walgreen's drug store. Campbell supposedly told store patrons to 'watch the news' because he was going to be famous.
That seems to be true. A memorial for him in the neighborhood where he lived was larger than one which appeared for the slain policeman in front of the Walgreen's, and the gunman's widow, while expressing sorrow for Officer Santiago's family, said her husband ought have killed more police if they were going to kill him.
This situation fits the bill of radical egalitarianism through a society which apparently sees no difference between the life of an officer of the law and a thug. Indeed, arguably, the thug is seen by at least part of society as equal than the cop doing his legitimate job. Interestingly, you might note that this also is where radical individualism kicks in: the alleged perpetrator is seen, again at least by a part of society, as simply an individual doing what he wished, to the point of murder merely because he wanted another individual dead. Who's to call him wrong in an age where we spend so much time telling people to be themselves?
Is this a simplistic view of the issue? No doubt it is, on certain levels, anyway. Not knowing or able to know the exact mental state of the gunman for example leaves us unable to judge his moral culpability for what he has done, for example. But is this situation as it has developed really about him or the policeman he is supposed to have shot? Or is it about a society being brought down slowly through ideals which, to say the least, are misguided and, to say the most, morally deficient if we are to continue as a civil nation?
Bork might argue that the libertarian left are at fault. It's sometimes hard to disagree with such assertions.