May 30, 2024

Culture War’s End in Sight? Not Likely.

Damon Linker writes at The New Republic that it’s not beyond the pale to think that Barack Obama may be able to lead liberals to a victory in the decades-old culture war.  How?  By subtle, gradual conversion away from conservative positions on 3 traditional value issues: Church/State Separation, Homosexual Rights/Gay Marriage, and Abortion.

Not bloody likely, in my estimation.  Then again, ordinary Americans undoubtedly felt safe in their majority at the beginning of the left’s radicalization, certain that both right and numbers were on their side.  Conservatives should beware now, as they should have half a century ago.

It should be remembered that it was the left that declared the culture war in the first place.  After all, America was in one state in 1961 and an entirely different one in 1965.  It wasn’t the right and center of American society that were in the streets burning down the country, it was the left.  Now the radicals want an end to the fighting. 

On what terms?  I ask.  And Damon answers.

Church/State Separation

Mr. Linker lands with both feet squarely on former President Bush, saying “the president was telling them [non-believers] that their failure to conform to traditionalist Catholic-Christian moral teaching made them bad citizens.”

This is nonsense but it serves to springboard Damon to his real point, which is that he thinks Obama can lure conservatives away from their position – namely that some Christian morality and expressions thereof are good for the nation’s soul and belong in schools, courtrooms, and legislatures – by simply not discussing the issue.

That idea is a non-starter because, though the far left makes a practice of demeaning the intelligence of conservative Christians, the fact that monuments to the 10 Commandments are being removed from county courthouses, high school football games can no longer start with a much-needed prayer, and the ACLU is still witch-hunting after teachers who dare to bring a Bible to school will not escape them.

Christianity has always been a central feature of American life.  In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:

In the United States the sovereign authority is religious,… there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

If only that were still so.

What middle America – I’m speaking both geographically and politically here – didn’t know in the 1960s was the degree of ferocity the radical liberals of the Baby Boom would use to further their agenda.  The Silent Majority could not stand against them but that does not mean the America that existed before the Summer of Love has been forgotten.

Although the generations that were brought up in an American still based on Christian morality are fading fast, enough of the historical record documenting the relative peace and prosperity that existed prior to the radicalization of liberalism still exists to inform current conservative leaders.

Unfortunately, history is a thin thread compared to the left’s extreme liberalization of the political, judicial, and educational systems.  Perhaps Linker is correct then, for history can be obfuscated and/or revised and is often forgotten by the very people who ought to heed its lessons.

Homosexual Rights/Gay Marriage

Damon says that the right has already lost the battle over gay marriage.  He’s overly optimistic as the passage of Prop. 8 in California, by far the most liberal state in the nation, demonstrates.  It is not often that the citizenry rebukes a state supreme court in such public fashion. 

Logical consideration shows that homosexual rights and gay marriage are distinct issues.  Our legal and medical systems do unfairly discriminate against homosexuals by denying them the same rights as heteros.  The right to will property to and utilize the medical benefits of a gay partner should be affirmed as elemental to citizenship.

Gay marriage is another issue altogether and one on which I trust I’ve previously made my position clear.  Suffice to say that a majority of Americans believe as I do, that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.  Moreover, American Christians will not accept any other definition of the institution.  Period.  Nor should they.  The entire history of mankind supports this line of thinking and conservatives are correct to believe that America has gone quite far enough in accommodating so-called alternative lifestyles.


The way forward on abortion, Damon says, is through compromise up to and including the narrowing or reversing of Roe v. Wade.  The far left is utterly unable to accept such an outcome peacefully; however, it is the only way that this issue can ever be resolved to the satisfaction of a sizable majority. 

Linker’s most excellent argument:

this is the core of the problem. Roe “settled” the question of abortion by saying that the pro-choice side wins 100 percent of the time, now and forever: America is a pro-choice nation and those who don’t like it can (respectfully) go to hell. No wonder we’ll still fighting these battles 36 years later. (This is also why it’s so unfortunate that Tim [Fernholz] is content to tell abortion opponents, in effect, to go fuck themselves: if abortion rights make “the religious right angry, that’s what happens in a liberal democracy.” No, what normally happens in a liberal democracy is that two sides in a rancorous public debate seek to reach a compromise

Indeed, the problem is the same on all 3 issues under discussion but none more so than abortion.

To imagine, as radical feminists groups purport to do, that Christians will ever accept the status quo of Roe is to live in a fantasy world.  For an excellent discussion of why this is, read Gary Graham’s essay at Big Hollywood.  There’s little more to add than what Gary has written here. 

An important snippet:

I’m telling you, once you draw that line and say this is the moment it’s a human being…you’ve lost the argument. Because it’s arbitrary. On this date it’s a baby, but yesterday it was just a bunch of cells…this blob of a nothing and you can do anything you want with it, it’s okay. Babies have been born premature in the second trimester and lived. Happens all the time. So please, somebody tell me how is taking a baby and delivering all but the head, then plunging a tube into its skull and sucking the brains out…how is that not murder? This is what happens in partial-birth abortions, and unfortunately, this happens all the time, too.

And we as a nation…as a people…are all right with this?

I understand the hate that is leveled at someone like me who reminds people of this. To contemplate the reality is daunting. The act is horrendous and made more tragic when you consider the numbers of babies that are being disposed of every day.

Our willingness to tolerate such a holocaust says volumes of how our entire culture has been coarsened.

Still, I do think that a significant number of Christians would agree to lay down arms on this issue if abortion were restricted to the first trimester, for example.  Not all, not by any stretch of the imagination.  But enough that a solid center could be formed on this issue, if the left could reciprocate.

The question of whether the left can compromise on abortion is similar to that posed of moderate Muslims in the Middle East.  Will the moderates who are in the vast majority be able to reign in the destructive tendencies of the radicals?

Given the lessons that can be drawn from the initial phase of the war the left declared on America in the 1960s, the answer is a clear “No”.  Radicals fight with the single-minded purpose and strength of cornered animals, whether it makes sense to fight or not and whether their cause is right or not.

The cause of abortion is not right, make no mistake.  But they will fight on anyway, to the literal death, at least of the children.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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