The Left's Culture War 'Victory'
"Progressives" had to destroy the nation in order to "save" it.
If one is conservative, a recent Washington Post article by Barton Swaim should raise one’s hackles on two counts. First, Swaim asserts the Left has won the culture war. Second, while some conservatives will resist that assertion, Swaim contends “many do not.” He argues, “Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.” Perhaps the surrenderists should reconsider for the simplest of reasons: If the Left has won the culture war, it is the epitome of a Pyrrhic victory.
Or to paraphrase a familiar quote from the Vietnam War era, the Left had to destroy the nation in order to save it.
The signs are everywhere. “In 2014, 28% of young men were living with a spouse or partner in their own home, while 35% were living in the home of their parent(s),” a Pew study reveals. Pew further notes this particular change in status for adults between the ages of 18 and 34 is occurring “for the first time in more than 130 years.” The remaining 22% are living with another relative, a non-relative, or in group quarters such as college dormitories. The primary reason? A “postponement of, if not retreat from, marriage,” Pew explains. “In addition, a growing share of young adults may be eschewing marriage altogether.”
In other words, we are seeing the postponement of a critical component of adulthood for as long as possible by the same cohort of Americans who have heartily embraced “safe spaces” — the foremost of which is apparently mom and dad’s house.
Nevertheless life, as it were, goes on. And it goes on courtesy of another leftist culture war “victory,” as in the reality that by 2012, more than 50% of women under the age of 30 were having babies out of wedlock. “It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal,” the New York Times informs us. The paper also says that statistic is class-based: College graduates “overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.”
And since single parenthood is one of the surest roads to economic deprivation — as in single-parent families are six times more likely to live in poverty than married-parent families — perhaps the victorious leftist culture warriors who champion the “diversity” of family arrangements should also take responsibility for the lion’s share of the “income gap” they routinely attribute to other factors. Even more so for the greater instances of emotional and behavioral problems that attend single parenthood.
The destruction of the nuclear family was made possible by the leftist triumph known as the “Great Society,” an initiative spearheaded by President Lyndon Johnson and a Democrat-controlled Congress. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan rightly predicted in 1966, “A community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families … asks for and gets chaos.”
How conservatives are supposed to live as amiably and productively as they can amid chaos, such as the deadliest May shooting spree in Chicago in 21 years, is anyone’s guess. And Chicago is not alone. Black Lives Matter, another group of leftist “winners,” has demonized police forces to the point where many officers are reluctant to do their jobs. As a result, murder and other violent crimes are soaring in a number of American cities.
Swaim is hopeful the Left’s victory “may bring about a more peaceable public sphere.” But, he says, “that will depend on others — especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism — declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance.” He cites “principled pluralism,” a concept advocating the idea that those who disagree on fundamental principles can still find equitable compromises, as the best path to that peace.
Leftists are many things. Proponents of equitable compromise, a.k.a. live and let live, is not one of them.
Nothing epitomizes this better than the ongoing attempts to completely silence dissent on college campuses across the nation. Even some leftists have noticed. “Wasn’t liberal academe a way for ideas, good and bad, to be subjected to enlightened reason?” asks the New Yorker’s Nathan Heller. “Generations of professors and students imagined the university to be a temple for productive challenge and perpetually questioned certainties. Now, some feared, schools were being reimagined as safe spaces for coddled youths and the self-defined, untested truths that they held dear.”
Generations of professors and students haves turned college campuses into de facto leftist indoctrination camps. Take for instance Yale students’ effort to abolish literature requirements that include works by William Shakespeare, John Milton and T.S. Eliot because a curriculum focused on white male authors “creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color.” “It’s time for the English major to decolonize — not diversify — its course offerings,” states a petition circulated by undergraduates.
Yale is hardly an outlier. Similar historical “purges” are occurring on other college campuses where leftists demand the removal of names, mascots, statues and other symbols of historical figures that “offend” them.
And not just on college campuses. During a recent session of the Louisiana state legislature, Democrat Rep. Barbara Norton opposed a bill mandating that schoolchildren be taught the Declaration of Independence because “only Caucasians [were] free” when it was written, and teaching it to children is a “little bit unfair.” Norton apparently “forgets” the paradigm shift in thinking regarding inalienable rights contained in that document paved the way for the abolition of inequality. But one suspects, like so many other leftists, she prefers historical elimination in lieu of historical enlightenment. Who else demonstrates an appetite for such preferences?
The Islamic State.
Furthermore, purges are not the only problem. The Left is also determined to force-feed their agenda to a recalcitrant public. Thus the attempt to suspend biological and chromosomal reality by force of law continues apace, along with the attempt to prosecute those who deny the Left’s “settled science” with regard to climate change.
Yet the most critical point missed by Swaim is the most obvious: A cultural victory requires a culture. And nothing brings to mind the aforementioned Vietnam-era mindset of “destructive salvation” better than the ongoing invasion of illegal aliens the Left champions. For these power-hungry victors, better the “fundamental transformation of the United States” into a Third World banana republic where they maintain a vice-like grip on power than a First World nation where they’re forced to compete in the arena of ideas. Better the “borderless world” advocated by a clueless John Kerry, even as the Constitution would be rendered meaningless as a result.
A genuine culture war victory requires no coercion, censorship or, as evidenced last Thursday, mob violence to sustain it. Yet with each passing day, it becomes ever clearer leftist victors conflate crushing hearts and minds with winning them. It doesn’t get any hollower — or less sustainable — than that.
As for Swaim’s “pliable” conservatives, they would do well to remember the words often attributed to Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Even worse? Collaborating with evil to live as amiably and productively as possible amidst it. If that’s not the essence of political correctness — and consummate surrender — one is hard-pressed to imagine what is.