The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

Current posts can be found here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

March 9, 2004 by s.z.

Who Are Our Leaders in the Culture War?

Bill O'Reilly says that the liberal secularists have the elite media, the heads of special interest groups, and George Soros to lead them.  The besieged "folks" who believe in "traditional values" have nobody --and Bill begs George Bush to step up to the plate:
Reluctant Culture Warrior 
President Bush doesn't like to talk about social issues like gay marriage and degenerate entertainment. These would seem to be red meat issues for the president, but it's a fact that special interests in the USA are now dominating the culture debate.
And Bill thinks that the President should not only be the nation's political leader, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but also the America's social and moral leader.  Bill feels that religious people just aren't cutting it as leaders in the fight for Traditional Values (because, alas, we can't make policy based on religion), and so the secularists/Untraditional Values people are winning.
Think about your own whole life in this country. How many changes have you seen in the past 20 years? Gangsta rap (search) would have been unthinkable in 1984.
And think how Freddie Mercury would have been unthinkable in 1964.  And how the Beatles would have been unthinkable in 1944.  Hey, change happens.  How the hell are you going to stop it, Bill?  And if you could, what year would you freeze us at?
Ditto, taking God out of the pledge of allegiance (search). Gay marriage? Not even on the radar screen.
And yet in 1924 and 1934 and 1944 and the first part of 1954 (all years which, if we follow Bill's logic, should be lot more righteous and moral than 1984), God wasn't IN the pledge of allegiance.  And yet, He apparently didn't care. 

And no, gay marriage was not on the radar screen in 1984.  Nor was Fox News.  Hey, maybe life WAS more moral back then.

Anyway, like I said, Bill blames the changes in society on the elite media and George Soros.  And on America's lack of a Social Issues Leader.
But most importantly, traditional Americans lack a strong leader on social issues. I mean, think about it. You have a conservative president in the White House who rarely engages these issues. So the secularists have the bully pulpit. And they're using it very effectively.
What kind of country do you want? Denmark, where pretty much any conduct is acceptable? Do you want gay marriage? Do you want legalized drugs? Do you want violent entertainment mainstreamed by powerful media companies? Do you want your kids taught about all kinds of sexual activity in the second grade? Well, those things may well happen in America and soon, because the forces that want them are well financed, well organized, and extremely aggressive, all the things that traditionalists are not. And that's The Memo.   
What kind of a country to do want?  Iran, where pretty much any conduct is regulated by the religious police?  Do you want gay marriage banned?  Do you want prescription drugs to be costly to the consumer because pharmaceutical companies were given a big break by the President's Medicare reform?  Do you want violent entertainment, like Mel Gibson's The Passion, promoted and mainstreamed by powerful religious and political groups?  Do you want your children taught creationism in the second grade?  Well, those things may well happen in America, and soon, because the forces that want them are well financed, well organized, and extremely aggressive, all the things that the people not declaring culture wars are not. 

And it's totally inappropriate for the President of the United States to serve as Culture War Leader.  And that's my reply to The Memo.

And now let's listen to Bill harangue Bryan York about President Bush's failure to serve as Culture War leader:
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Culture War segment tonight, as we mentioned in the Talking Points memo, President Bush is reluctant to fight the growing secularist trend in America. But why?
Joining us now from Washington, Byron York, White House correspondent for National Review, a conservative magazine.
O'REILLY: Quick question is, is it just he doesn't care about these issues?
YORK: Right.
O'REILLY: Is that what it is?
YORK: Well, there's two things. One, I mean, they're very, very divisive issues. And you're going to make a significant number of people mad every time you step into something like school prayer or something like that.
The other thing is, personally, I believe Bush comes from a religious background in which it's a very contemporary, Christian non-judgmental kind of faith. You know, it's kind of in the Democrats' interest to try to portray him as a fire and brimstone member of the religious right, but that's simply not him. And I think he doesn't like these divisive fights.                          
O'REILLY: All right now, if that's true, and I believe you're right that he doesn't like them, I don't know if that's the reason he doesn't like them, but that leaves no leadership at all for the traditionalist side. And then that angers many conservatives. They say look, where are our spokespeople? They're MIA, whereas the other side has got every bomb thrower in the world banging down the door to change the country in dramatic ways.
YORK: Yes, but I think Bush believes that he was called by history after September 11th to fight very, very big fights. And you know, I...
O'REILLY: This is a big fight, Mr. York.
YORK: Well, it's not...
O'REILLY: This is not some little thing. I mean, these people are socially engineering the country to be a totally different country. And they see weakness on the traditional side.  And they're moving fast.
Yup, those evil liberals are socially engineering the country to be differant than it was in 1984.  And nobody is doing a thing about it -- except Bill, of course.  Maybe we should elect HIM President; he could wage war on terrorism, the economy, and the culture, all at once.  And HE's well-financed, well-organized, and very aggressive, just like those damned secularists!  He could win the battle against social change all by himself.  So, vote O'Reilly in November -- for Secretary of Culture War.

We're going to take a break, but when we come back: Who Started This Culture War ("Mommy, he hit me first!")?  Where Do Those Fighting the Culture War Go to School?  And What Does Judson Cox Have to Say About It All?  So, go fight some cultures, and come back after the break.

5:18:29 AM    

Who Invented Culture Wars?

Let's go to James Carroll for an answer to the above question, and an example from history about how such wars can go horribly wrong :
The phrase "culture war" comes from "Kulturkampf." That word was coined in the 1870s when Germany's George W. Bush, Otto von Bismarck, launched a "values" campaign as a way of shoring up his political power. Distracting from issues of war and economic stress, the "Kulturkampf" ran from 1871 to about 1887. Bismarck's strategy was to unite his base by inciting hatred of those who were not part of it.
His first target was the sizable Catholic minority in the new, mostly Protestant German state, but soon enough, especially after an economic depression in 1873, Jews were defined as the main threat to social order. This was a surprising turn because Jewish emancipation had been a feature of German culture as recently as the 1860s. By 1879, the anti-Jewish campaign was in full swing: It was in that year that the word "anti-Semitism" was coined, defining not a prejudice but a public virtue. The Kulturkampf was explicitly understood as a struggle against decadence, of which the liberal emancipated Jew became a symbol. What that culture war's self-anointed defenders of a moral order could not anticipate was what would happen when the new "virtue" of anti-Semitism was reinforced by the then burgeoning pseudo-science of the eugenics movement. Bismarck's defense of expressly German values was a precondition of Hitler's anti-Jewish genocide. 
Carroll feels that by advocating the Federal Marriage Amendment, Bush is, for political purposes, aligning himself those who feel threatened, morally and socially, by gay marriage.  And once gay marriage is made to serve as a major battle in a "culture war," it becomes more than just a legislative matter; opposing gay marriage becomes a battle to protect our very way of life, and gays become the enemy of that way of life.  And since gays are a group which has known virulent bigotry in the past, Carroll says that what Bush is doing is dangerous.
To define the wish of homosexuals for equal access to marriage rites and rights as a mortal threat to the social order, as Bush does, is to put gay people themselves in an unprecedented position of jeopardy. 
Carroll concludes by saying that while Bush's cultural war may not have the same results as Bismark's, Bush is still playing with "dark forces":
One need not predict equivalence between the eventual outcome of Bismarck's culture war and the threat of what Bush's could lead to.  For our purposes, the thing to emphasize is that a leader's exploitation of subterranean fears and prejudices for the sake of political advantage is a dangerous ploy, even if done in the name of virtue.  No, make that especially if done in the name of virtue.
While 21st century America is unlikely to end up electing Hitler as our leader a few years down the road, I think Carroll is right when he says that it's never a good idea for a leader to try to unite his followers by starting (or joining in) a "culture war" against other members of the group.  Something President "I'm a Uniter, Not A Divider" should be more mindful of.

3:52:44 AM    

Culture Wars!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .

It's clear that we are in the midst of a culture war right now: just look at these citations from Google News for news items from the past day or two:

Kerry's views underscore split in the religious vote
Atlanta Journal Constitution, GA 
... This is the 2004 political battleground of the culture war, where the fight is
not between denominations but between conservatives and liberals across ...

Bush, Kerry heat up race on eve of primary
Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX 
... Enthusiasm is high partly because of the perception that the election will be a
"culture war," said one contributor, Houston-based investment adviser Marvin ... 

Will same-sex education be a new battle in the culture war?
The Tallahassee Democrat 
By William Raspberry. The correct answer is: Yes. And that is why the
administration's push to make room for single-sex public school ...

Stanley B. Greenberg: The vision Kerry should focus on
Minneapolis Star Tribune (subscription), MN 
... the coming campaign. Republicans have already begun fighting a culture
war; Democrats have begun fighting a class war. One party ...

Scalia Speech Under Scrutiny
CBS News - 
... In his dissent to the sodomy ruling, Scalia said the court "has largely signed on
to the so-called homosexual agenda" and "has taken sides in the culture war.". ...

' Down - in - the - Gutter Nasty '
FOX News - Mar 7, 2004
... by the economy. Kerry accuses Bush of igniting a "culture war" to change
the subject from jobs and health care. Bush's party controls ...

Homosexual Activists Appeal to Vice President's Gay Daughter
Miami Herald, FL - 
--WASHINGTON - Gay-rights activists, outraged at what they see as the Bush administration's decision to provoke a culture war over gay marriage, are directing ...

And about THIRTY more.  In just the past couple of days.

So, what are we supposed to deduce from the above headlines, besides the fact that the VP's gay daughter finds homosexual activists appealing?

Well, that the upcoming presidential election is a culture war, a war between conservatives and liberals, religion and secularism, decency and depravity, traditional morality and homosexual rights, and, same-sex education and illiteracy.  And apparently you have to vote a straight ticket: Bush, conservatism, religion, decency, traditional values, and same sex education; or Kerry, liberalism, secularism, depravity, homosexual rights, and illiteracy. 

Oh, and that the Republicans (with the assistance of the media) seem to be the ones framing the election this way (although those cute homosexual activists say that the war is between narrow-mindedness and gay rights, and that the White House started it).  The Democrats say they aren't fighting anybody's culture, and instead see the battle as being about jobs, the economy, and tax cuts that benefit primarily rich people.

Anyway, since the Culture War seems to be one of those memes we hear so much about (but rarely get to meet in person), today's theme is The Culture War.  Consider yourselves POW's.

2:57:25 AM

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