Category Archive 'Culture Wars'
10 Oct 2017

The Slow-Motion Theft of American Culture

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Jack Cashill observes that, over the course of his lifetime, the Left has politicized more and more of everything, at the same time marginalizing dissenters like himself.

As recently as 1980, for instance, almost no one in the media openly disrespected people like me. As a young Reagan fan, I had come to that enthusiasm almost entirely through the mainstream media. There was no conservative talk radio to speak of, no Fox News, no Internet, and I caught up with National Review only occasionally at the public library. I watched the evening news and the Sunday morning shows without feeling aggrieved or abused, and I listened to NPR all day long.

Fresh out of graduate school, I worked as Director of Management at the Kansas City Housing Authority. NPR helped me keep my sanity. I was one of only a handful of conservatives working at this place, but no one mistreated me because of it.

Being a witness to the left’s stealthy corruption of the black community, I wrote several articles on what I saw. My African-American boss advised me to use a pseudonym but otherwise had no objection. The Kansas City Star, then still a nonpartisan enterprise, welcomed my insider perspective. Up until about ten years ago, the Star even reviewed my books.

At the time, I served on the board of a local professional theater, had a play of mine produced, and wrote and directed a couple of fundraising mystery spectacles for the theater. Today, like the editors of the Star, the theater’s decision makers will not even read what I submit.

Throughout the 1990s, I produced a series of historical documentaries for the local PBS station. In that the audiences supported my work, I kept getting asked back. For years, I appeared periodically on the station’s weekly news program. That has dwindled away to nothing. The Star reporters will not be on the show if I am. The station needs the Star more than it needs me. Nor have I been on the area’s NPR station in a decade. Like its mothership, the station no longer even feigns an interest in the sixty percent of its red state market that voted for Donald Trump.

In that my wife is a university professor, so were many of our friends. Although they knew my politics, they did not hesitate to welcome us into their world. Although my politics have not changed, we have not been invited to an academic dinner party in at least a decade. Nor have we gone to see a speaker or see a play at the university three blocks from our house in twenty or so years. Chelsea Clinton? Angela Davis? The Vagina Monologues? No, thanks.

RTWT

19 Sep 2017

“Like Living in an Asylum, Where You Have to Worry that Any Word You Say Might Provoke an Outburst from a Lunatic”

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(Headline from BGA)

Kurt Schlichter explains that the left keeps changing the rules in order to keep winning.

The Brooke Baldwin mammary mess is just another example of how liberals leverage their ability to create new rules out of thin air as a means of asserting their power over us normals. What was A-OK yesterday is now forbidden, and what was forbidden yesterday is now mandatory. Their goal is to keep our heads spinning and paralyze us with fear, like nearsighted corporals caught in a minefield and terrified that if we take one wrong step we will detonate a concealed wrongthink booby-trap. They want us living in fear of their fussy wrath, and that is precisely why it is so important for us to keep abreast of pseudo-scandals like this so we can nip these libfascists’ schemes in the bud and deny them the ability to rack up yet another victory in the culture war. …

Part of the strategy behind the new rules is to not actually have any firm rules, to make you so uncertain and timid that you’re unwilling to take any action because anything you do, at any time, can be a violation of a rule that didn’t exist 30 seconds before. If you do talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you’re insulting womyn, and if you don’t talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you are invisibling womyn. Basically, if you don’t have any female body parts, you’re just wrong all of the time. Unless you have fake female body parts and betrayed your country; then you are America’s greatest hero and a martyr to Harvard’s infamous legacy of transphobia. Or something.

RTWT

09 Jul 2017

The Left Wins Every Battle, But Loses the War

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Richard Fernandez finds cause for ultimate optimism.

David Gerlenter writing in the Wall Street Journal says something self-evidently true. The Left seems to have won every single culture battle fought.

    Although the right reads the left, the left rarely reads the right. Why should it, when the left owns American culture? Nearly every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation. The left wrapped up the culture war two generations ago. Throughout my own adult lifetime, the right has never made one significant move against the liberal culture machine.

The late Andrew Breitbart noticed the same thing. Observing that “politics is downstream from culture,” he argued the Left has made us the villains of our own stories.

    Our lives — indeed, our very species — has storytelling wound into our DNA. … Popular culture is delivered to us in the form of story via books, TV, film, music, video games, and new media. …

    Thus we come to politics … the vast majority of those with the power of content creation are Liberals. … Liberals control story. …What is some of that messaging? Think about movies and TV. Corporations are evil — using unwitting poor Africans for pharmaceutical testing (Constant Gardener) or dumping toxic chemicals into nature (Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action) or responsible for the end of mankind (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). American soldiers are bloodthirsty lawbreaking maniacs (Any military film). The CIA conducts illegal, secret operations that have nothing to do with protecting America. Radical Muslim terrorists are never villains. Trial lawyers are crusading do-gooders. David Letterman and Saturday Night Live ridicule the Right 95% of the time. Jon Stewart pretends to be centrist, but in fact jumps all over the Right far more often than the Left.

    Liberal political candidates are the embodiments of those Liberal tenets. The goal is to associate them in voter minds via the vehicle of popular culture.

Even before Breitbart’s warning there was Orwell, who understood that the Left’s ultimate ability was to uproot the past and plant their chosen seed for the future. His famous dictum “he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past” is an unsurpassed indictment of groupthink totalitarianism. There seemed no doubt they would succeed. Within its bubble, the Left’s control of culture is so absolute they can watch 1984 without realizing it’s about them.

Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why,

Look around you. Every single country that adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation.” The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago,” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.

RTWT

14 Jun 2017

Typography and Politics

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Ben Hersh, at Backchannel, discusses the ability of different fonts to make cultural and political statements.

The US is not so different from the rest of the world when it comes to tribalism and conflicted identity. This has crystalized in last few months, and we’ve seen typography play a substantial role.

Hillary Clinton ran for president with a slick logo befitting a Fortune 100 company. It had detractors, but I think we’ll remember it fondly as a symbol of what could have been — clarity, professionalism, and restraint.

Donald Trump countered with a garish baseball cap that looked like it had been designed in a Google Doc by the man himself. This proved to be an effective way of selling Trump’s unique brand.

I’m not interested in whether Clinton or Trump had good logos. I’m interested in the different values they reveal. Clinton’s typography embodies the spirit of modernism and enlightenment values. It was designed to appeal to smart, progressive people who like visual puns. They appreciate the serendipity of an arrow that completes a lettermark while also symbolizing progress. In other words, coastal elites who like “design.”

Trump’s typography speaks with a more primal, and seemingly earnest voice. “Make America Great Again” symbolizes “Make America Great Again.” It tells everyone what team you’re on, and what you believe in. Period. It speaks to a distrust of “clean” corporate aesthetics and snobs who think they’re better than Times New Roman on a baseball cap. Its mere existence is a political statement.

The two typographies are mutually intelligible at first glance, but a lot gets lost in translation. We live in a divided country, split on typographic lines as cleanly as the Serbs and the Croats.

RTWT

31 May 2017

It’s Their Bakery

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The Hard Times Net:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The owner of a local goth bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for an “unbearably happy” couple last week, sparking a swift and immediate backlash, according to multiple reports.

RTWT

20 Feb 2017

“Sanctimony Cities”

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Some of Mike Pence’s new neighbors putting up a rainbow flag.

Christopher Caldwell, in Claremont Review, discusses today’s divided America.

In the days leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, the streets in one wealthy corner of northwest Washington, D.C., were draped with flags almost from one end to the other. They recalled Monet’s painting of the Rue Montorgueil that hangs in the Musée d’Orsay, or the oils that the American impressionist Childe Hassam painted of street parades towards the end of World War I. These, however, were not national flags but the rainbow-striped banners of the gay rights movement. They were directed, in embitterment rather than celebration, at an audience of one: Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the vice president-elect. Pence had done two things to offend the flag-wavers. As Indiana governor in the days after gay marriage became law in 2015, he had signed a bill defending freedom of religion. Worse, after November 8 he had rented a house on nearby Tennyson Street for the presidential transition. Now up and down his street the yard signs jostled, some reading “I Stand With Planned Parenthood,” others “This Neighborhood Respects Women.” Particularly popular was a peacock-blue sign reading “Hate Has No Home Here” and “El odio no tiene hogar aquí,” which must be Spanish for “Stay out of our neighborhood, Hoosier.”

Regrettable though it may be that political passions would lead a whole neighborhood to act inhospitably, it is only human. It was a bitter contest, after all. Trump’s win was a shock. What is more worrisome is the estrangement of ruling-class neighborhoods like this one from the part of the country that voted for Trump, their near-unanimous incomprehension of, and contempt for, the democracy movement that just said “Enough!” to the politics of recent decades. In an election that Democrats lost at virtually every level, the capital city gave Hillary Clinton 93% of its votes, and Trump 4%. All the country’s grand, modern, and cultured places followed suit. Pence’s neighbors seemed to assume he did not realize there was any such thing as homosexuality or abortion or the Spanish language. Merely alerting him that such things existed might therefore be a satisfying way to wound him. And why not wound him? It was impossible that Trump and Pence could be legitimate occupants of the White House because it was impossible to believe that 60 million people would vote for such boobs.

A robust enthusiasm for American democracy is unlikely to survive where such sentiments prevail.

A must read.


The democrat archipelago: Cities, the Rio Grande Valley, the Southern Black Belt, and some Indian Reservations.

14 Jan 2017

Why the Left, Particularly the Hollywood Left, is Losing It Over Trump

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notjaffo on Reddit explains.

Why is Hollywood (in particular) freaking out so badly over Trump?

First, because he’s a Republican who might actually do the things he said he wanted to do. But second, because this is the first cultural victory the right has scored since Reagan stumbled into one in the ’80s.

The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.

Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.

Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.

The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”

Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team.

Red Conservativism is a business, selling a set of political products. They don’t make you feel good, they don’t appeal to your morality or your spiritual sense of self, but sometimes you really NEED one of their core products like security, jobs, or national defense. Their appeals to “freedom” and “family values” ring hollow these days, but when people are flying planes into buildings, you need a strong member of Conservatism, Inc. in the big chair.

And when it came down to the things that really mattered – welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and foreign policy, you knew Red Team couldn’t really do anything Blue Team didn’t approve of, or the Blue faithful would kick them out of office next time.

But Donald Trump didn’t sign that contract. And Donald Trump didn’t win by selling the same old conservative products. Donald Trump started his own religion, and he won a religious victory.

The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.

For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.

We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.

Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.

The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.

But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.

Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.

There is a new faith rising on the right, not an explicit religious faith like old-school Christianity, but a wicked kind of counterculture movement. We laughed at the hippies in 1968, but by 1978 they were teaching in classrooms and sitting behind school administrator desks.

Where will the hippies of 2016 be sitting after eight years of Trump? How many of the shitposting Twitter bad boys will start up alternative media outlets, until one of them becomes the new Saturday Night Live?

Sam Hyde tried it on Adult Swim, but that was just the early prototype, like Mad Magazine was for the left. There will be many others after him, and they won’t be stopped by network filters. They’ll come “out of nowhere” on the web, from the secret places that the inquisitors at Google can’t shut down.

And that’s what Meryl Streep is really scared of. She’s not truly aware of it, just like fluttering housewives couldn’t really understand the counterculture threat in 1968. But they feel that something is changing in their safe little world, and they know they have to fight it, because this threat isn’t just passing pointless budget resolutions and selling pointless platitudes about family values – these guys mean business, and they’re fighting on her turf.

Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.

12 Jan 2017

John Scalzi, Beta Male

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John Scalzi’s Xmas Card

John Scalzi’s first Mil SciFi novel Old Man’s War featured a plot with a natural appeal to aging boomers, and with a helpful plug from Instapundit quickly broke through to become a best-seller in the genre.

Conservative readers with a liking for Scalzi were soon to be dismayed when the formerly seemingly sympatico author came out as an Obama supporter and Gun Control advocate. John Scalzi has since distinguished himself within the Science Fiction Fandom Community as one of the loudest voices on the Social Justice Warrior side.

Naturally, many of us just stopped buying Scalzi’s books, but some remain really bitter. Chateau Heartiste (an Alt-Right blog) yesterday took aim at Scalzi as a representative of the beta male phenomenon, publishing photos and Scalzi’s 2016 Xmas card which portray him as a nerd, shorter, frailer, and more sensitive-looking than his wife. CH has a lot of fun mocking Scalzi, and promises more:

Reading Scalzi is like bathing in a vat of menstrual blood and having pure estrogen injected straight into the scrotum. One must exit Scalzi’s world through a decontamination chamber of red meat and range shooting. His sickness can’t be allowed to spread to vulnerable men. His dildology worldview is a disfigured anti-reality that will yield like buttery goodness to the shiv every time, because nothing substantial underlies it. And the Chateau will flay him, over and over, until his ugliness of mind and spirit perishes from the earth.

26 Sep 2016

Today’s Politics All About the Culture Wars

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smugliberals

Tim Black argues that choice of life-style has become politicized which in turn has inflamed politics.

In one of his last speeches as Labour leader in 2006, [Tony] Blair said that the new debate in politics was not left against right, but ‘open vs closed’ – openness to immigration, to diversity, and so on. And he was right. Politics has been waged as a war on those with supposedly ‘closed’ minds, those who ‘cling’ to older traditions and rituals, those who, in the case of Brexit, prefer a national democracy to a transnational oligarchy. And this year, the ‘closed’ fought back.

But there’s something else, too. Not only has culture been completely politicised, and turned into an object of public contestation; politics has also become culturalised, aestheticised. It has been turned into a way of expressing oneself, of marking one’s distinction to others, of showcasing one’s superior political taste – a question, as one Guardian journalist put it, of ‘who we are’. Being political today – whether that involves expressing one’s feminism, or proudly proclaiming ‘black lives matter’ – has become a way of saying something determinate not about the world, but about oneself, and, in the process, negating others. Conservative lettrist Joseph Epstein calls this new political type ‘the virtucrat’ – ‘the new prig… [who] will nail you for not having his opinion on Israel or the environment’. He is ‘a moral snob’, Epstein continues; ‘not only is he smug about the righteousness of his views but he imputes bad faith to anyone who doesn’t share them’.

And this is a profound problem. The aestheticisation of politics, the emergence of an intense political snobbery, lends debate an intractable, compromise-defying quality. It comes to appear not just as a conflict between utterly incompatible ways of life, but also as an intensely personal conflict, where arguments take the form of personal insults, and electoral defeats are experienced as personal affronts. In the strangely emotional reaction of Remainers to the referendum result, which included vituperative columns about racists in our midst, public tears and, absurdly, post-vote marches, one can see the the flipside of the polticisation of culture and lifestyle; the stylisation of politics, its mutation into a means not of winning the support of others, but of asserting their inferiority, of casting their lives into arbitrariness.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Matthias Storme.

28 Jul 2016

Peter Theil Was Wrong

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PittengerLetter

Rod Dreher has an excellent retort to Peter Theil’s claim, made during the RNC, that the Culture Wars were only “a distraction.”

Culturally speaking, to be born in many places in the US is to suffer an irreversible lifelong defeat. If you come from a culturally conservative region, or family, you understand that the people who make the decisions in this culture are on the other side. At best they regard you as irrelevant. At worst, they hate you, and want to grind your nose in the dirt. Whatever the case, the things you value, that are important to your identity, and your sense of how the world is supposed to work, are either fading away or being taken from you — and you can’t do anything about it.

Consider the bathroom debate that Thiel finds so irrelevant. Thiel lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Perhaps he genuinely cannot understand the sense of violation that many of his fellow Americans feel when they are told that men dressed like women must be allowed to use the women’s bathroom in public places. But it’s real. And maybe he doesn’t get the utter hypocrisy of corporate elites on this issue, captured by one North Carolina Congressman:

(see above)

Believe me, a lot of us notice. Ordinary people who have never had a thought about theory in their lives see the world they took as normal, as stable, as comprehensible, disappearing in front of their eyes, driven by forces they cannot understand, much less control.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

26 Jun 2016

Tom Whyman Does Not Like His Fellow Britons

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TomWhyman
Dr.Tom Whyman, (part-time) Philosophy teacher, University of Essex

Part-time red-brick academic Tom Whyman inveighs against his native English village in the American Sunday Times:

Alresford is my personal hell.

We are not used to thinking that a place like this — a pleasant town with a pretty center — might actually be hell. There is almost no poverty and only the occasional act of violence. There are good schools, a range of shops, a heritage railway. In fact, it’s somewhere that a lot of people, apparently, actively want to live: Houses in the center easily sell for upward of a million pounds. (What they will cost once the vote to leave the European Union makes the economy crater remains to be seen.)

But dig below the surface, and you will find the demons crawling. You can see them in the looks that residents give you when they pass; sneering snobs glaring down their noses with entitlement; small-minded townies, bullying you with eyes that you recognize from the primary school lunchroom; the old people, 80 and above, wearing blank stares. You can hear it in their bothered tutting at the bus stop (especially if they ever hear a visitor mispronouncing the name of the town), the shots that constantly ring out from across the countryside as they set about murdering as many of the local pheasants as they can. …

[I]t is impossible to leave Alresford, because Alresford is not just a place: It is an ideology that infects your very soul. Let’s call it “Alresfordism.” It is an ideology of smallness, of contraction, of wanting to curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole and will everything amusing or interesting or exciting in the world away.

Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford. And yet, I am an early-career academic and so I am forced to move back, every summer, to live with my parents because I cannot afford to pay rent elsewhere after my temporary teaching contract ends. Then, sometimes, I think: What if I’m actually secretly comfortable here? What if I have chosen the security of death in Alresford over the risks of life elsewhere? What if I am in fact fully in the clutches of Alresfordism?

04 Aug 2015

Derbyshire on all the “Cecil the Lion” Outrage

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Good&BadWhitePeople

John Derbyshire explicates the two-minutes-of-hate observed all over Western society in honor of Dr. Palmer, the lion-slayer.

[W]hy the massive nationwide hysteria over a lion killed in a remote, badly misgoverned country, under some rather technical issues of local illegality, by a hunter who plausibly was not aware of those issues?

Because, inevitably, the whole incident became refracted through the lens of current public discourse in the U.S.A. into a skirmish in what I call the Cold Civil War: that is, the everlasting struggle between, on the one hand, the Progressive goodwhites who dominate our country’s mainstream culture—the Main Stream Media, the universities and law schools, big corporations, the federal bureaucracy—and, on the other hand, the ignorant gap-toothed hillbilly redneck badwhites clinging to their guns and religion out on the despised margins of civilized society.

Dr. Palmer is, of course, a badwhite. The evidence for this in in his actions. Hunting charismatic megafauna for sport is a thing only badwhites do. Big game trophy hunting is in fact as typically, characteristically badwhite as shopping at Whole Foods, or patronizing microbreweries, or listening to NPR are characteristically goodwhite.

For a full catalog of typical goodwhite lifestyle choices I refer you to Christian Landers’ 2008 book Stuff White People Like—slightly out of date now, but still reliable on most points. I have occasionally entertained the notion of putting out an updated version to be titled Stuff Goodwhites Like, with a companion volume titled, of course, Stuff Badwhites Like. Big game trophy hunting—indeed, hunting of all kinds—would definitely be listed in that latter volume, along with commercial beer, pickup trucks, Protestant Christianity, side-clip suspenders, NASCAR, and other badwhite favorites.

Read the whole thing. Derbyshire’s dissection of Jimmy Kimmel is too good to miss.

11 Jul 2015

“A Secession of the Heart”

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SecessionQuickStep

Pat Buchanan warns that as the establishment community of fashion moves farther and farther away from, and becomes ever more hostile and contemptuous toward, the values, symbols, and religious beliefs of normal, ordinary Americans, the divisions they are creating are growing deeper and deeper and are ever more likely to manifest themselves in unpleasant ways.

If a family disagreed as broadly as we Americans do on issues so fundamental as right and wrong, good and evil, the family would fall apart, the couple would divorce, and the children would go their separate ways.

Something like that is happening in the country.

A secession of the heart has already taken place in America, and a secession, not of states, but of people from one another, caused by divisions on social, moral, cultural and political views and values, is taking place.

America is disuniting, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote 25 years ago.

And for those who, when young, rejected the views, values and laws of Eisenhower’s America, what makes them think that dissenting Americans in this post-Christian and anti-Christian era will accept their laws, beliefs, values?

Why should they?

14 Apr 2015

Patrick Nielsen Hayden Learns That the Sad Puppies Slate Swept the 2015 Hugo Awards

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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