The perverse tendency among white Western elites to welcome and embrace non-Western peoples and cultures while refusing to defend their own people and culture is no mere fashion, as superficial conservatives would have it, but a natural and inevitable expression of a new cultureâa culture of nihilismâthat has become the dominant culture of the West. The organizing idea of this nihilist culture is that abnormal and transgressive conduct is normalized and celebrated, while traditional moral norms and constraints are either ignored or subjected to crippling social and civil penalties. Hardly a day goes by when this dominant nihilism does not announce its presence in unmistakable terms, as seen in the following items, selected almost at random from contemporary events (the reader is invited to think of his own examples): High school pupils who physically attack their teachers go unpunished, while a police officer who slapped a boy he discovered having sex with his daughter is suspended from his job. Male and female students at elite colleges are housed together in the same dorms, using the same bathrooms, while religious students who don't want to be forced to live in this libertine environment are told they should have gone to school elsewhere. People who want the Unabomber executed are described by the New York Times as "angry," while people who consider the Unabomber a hero are described by the Times in neutral, nonjudgmental terms. Hospitals are informed by federal courts that carrying on hospital business in the English language is "discrimination," while illegal aliens using those hospitals are told they have a "right" under the U.S. Constitution to be addressed in their native languages. Laws against disability discrimination punish employers for failing to hire or make "reasonable accommodations" for hostile or violent or chronically late employees. This systematic inversion of normal and abnormal, of law and lawlessness, of good and evil, goes beyond mere democratic leveling. It is a rebellion against what philosophers call the order of existence. Ultimately, it is a rebellion against God and the belief that man is made in the image of God. When man gets rid of the belief (which comes through revelation and rational intuition) that he is made in the image and likeness of God, man is notâas secularists imagineâenhanced. He is degraded. If man is not made in God's image, then he is made in his own image. If God is not the measure of all things, then man is the measure. But without a higher truth to raise him above himself and his disordered impulses, man inexorably sinks, finally becoming so contemptible that he can no longer believe in God or in man. So he begins to worship non-human, sub-human, anti-human behaviors and forms. The manifestations of this depravity can be seen not only in our popular entertainments (e.g., the Jerry Springer Show and most prime-time television) and "lifestyles" (e.g., face-piercing and vampirism), but in the so-called high culture of post-1960s America. Sculptures and monuments once embodied a heroic-divine ideal going back to the ancient Greeks. But today our typical public sculptures portray grotesque shapes of victimhood, human figures bedraggled and twisted in pain, as though the universe were one vast Auschwitz. It is an aesthetic in which any sense of human dignity in suffering is erased. Alongside the depiction of human beings as hopeless victims, we have now statues of monsters. In recent years New York City has displayed in its public parks and squares such "art works" as a 25-foot-long statue of an insect, and a statue of a gigantic, hideous dog as high as a man, with huge dugs projecting downward like knives. These sculptures are our postmodern equivalents of the terror-gods of the pre-Columbian cultures. When man loses belief in God, he also loses respect for man, and turns to non-human or anti-human figures as symbols of the malign spiritual universe he now inhabits. The postmodern degradation of man and culture begins with the modern idea of placing all human beings, and even all of nature, on an equal plane, free of the burden of transcendence. The logic of this agenda has been put forth in a remarkable essay by religion professor Steven C. Rockefeller, appearing in the volume Multiculturalism and "The Politics of Recognition," by Charles Taylor. Blending deep ecology with multiculturalism, Rockefeller enunciates what is in effect a new religion. "All life is sacred," he writes, "[and] all life forms should be respected as a 'thou' and not just as an 'it.' ... If, as has been suggested, all cultures as well as all life forms are of intrinsic value and also sacred, then from a religious perspective all are in this sense equal in value." [italics added]. All of this is, of course, a total inversion of the Jewish and Christian world view, which tells us that God is holy, not the world, and that human beings can become holy by orienting themselves toward God: "Be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." But according to Rockefeller's gospel, everything that existsâplants, animals, humans, and (most of all) Third-world culturesâis not only holy, but equally so: If one employs this kind of religious argument in defense of the idea of equal value, one should recognize its full implications. It is opposed to anthropocentrism [the idea that man is higher or more important than animals or plants] as well as to all egoisms of class, race, or culture. It calls for an attitude of humility. It encourages a respect for, and pride in, one's own particular identity only insofar as such respect and pride grow out of recognition of the value of the uniqueness in the identity of all other peoples and life forms. Furthermore, if what is sacred in humanity is life, which is not something exclusively human, then humanity's primary identity is not just with the human species but with the entire biosphere that envelopes planet Earth. Thus, according to Rockefeller, it is no longer God above man, and God's spirit working within man, that is divine, but mere biological life, in respect of which man is equal with crustacea, worms, and viruses. Instead of being humble before God and the nobler manifestations of mankind, we are supposed to be humble before plants and animals and primitive cultures. Most importantly, our own culture has no right to self-respect unless we first have total respect for all other cultures and life-forms. Rockefeller continues: The call for recognition of the equal value of different cultures is the expression of a basic and profound universal human need for unconditional acceptance. A feeling of such acceptance, including affirmation of one's ethnic particularity as well as one's universally shared potential, is an essential part of a strong sense of identity.... The politics of recognition may, therefore also be an expression of a complex human need for acceptance and belonging, which on the deepest level is a religious need. Unconditional acceptance (!) as a sacred right (!) of every person and culture! Try to imagine what this would mean in practical terms. Of course, there's a catch, which Rockefeller makes explicit elsewhere in his essay. Only some cultures and life-forms (namely white Western males) are actually obligated to extend this unconditional acceptance to other cultures and life forms, while those other cultures and life-forms are only expected to receive such recognition, as is their divine right. In Steven Rockefeller's mad epiphany, we seem to hear the final, degenerate gasp of the Protestant spirit that made America. In the earlier stages of this devolution, the Protestant loses his Christian faith, which eventually leaves him with nothing but "niceness." Then this "niceness"âcut off from the religious faith that was its source and discipline, but still in need of a "divine" sanctionâspreads out indiscriminately until it embraces the whole universe, ultimately taking the form of nature worship, the belief in the equality of all cultures and life-forms, and the totalitarian religion of "unconditional acceptance." But the religion of cosmic equality, as crazy as it is, is not the end of the process. The attempt to eliminate all hierarchy and transcendence leads inevitably to an inverted hierarchy, in which man, particularly Western man, is at the bottom. The Bible placed man near the top of a divinely ordered universe, only a little lower than the angels. But now the radical egalitarians tell us that man is no better than animals, who (it is argued), also communicate and reason, and are less destructive than humans. "And as with animals," remarks the late literary critic Peter Shaw in his collection of essays, The War against the Intellect, "so with primitive man and with societies less developed than our own: both are closer to the sources of natural wisdom, and both wreak less damage upon the ecosystem and biosphere than does Western man." As an extreme example of this inversion, Shaw quotes the popular left-wing paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould: Evolution is a copiously branching network, not a ladder, and I do not see how we, the titular spokesmen for a few thousand mammalian species, can claim superiority over three quarters of a million species of insects who will surely outlive us, not to mention the bacteria, who have shown remarkable staying power for more than three billion years. "Here we have very nearly the ultimate demotion of man," comments Shaw, "the inferior not only of primitive peoples, other mammals, and the cockroach, but even of bacteria."