Blankenhorn's use of grandmothers as standard-bearers for family values continues a recent tradition of obfuscation and distortion, based on an American myth embodied in the 1950s nuclear family. Beginning in the '60s, the unpleasant truth began to emerge. The myth had concealed and perpetuated a variety of interpersonal oppressions festering within this cherished institution.
The traditional values that Blankenhorn fails to mention include racial bias, female exploitation, ethnic stereotyping, religious and sexual intolerance, violence, child abuse, even incest. Surely he does not advocate a return to these good old days.
Blankenhorn attempts to blame an amorphous culture for American drift and decay but he cannot show how to extricate it from the economic and political environment in which we live.
Our challenge is to step beyond this type of rhetoric to examine ourselves more fully and clearly, perhaps as onlookers from abroad might view us.
It then becomes realistic, though unpopular, to posit that societal forces most of us would never consider as culpable of social engineering have indeed steered us into this miasma of hedonism and nihilism.