A few weeks ago David Brooks, commenting on President Trump’s role in the Culture War, described his understanding of how we got here. He writes:
After World War II the Protestant establishment dominated the high ground of American culture and politics. That establishment eventually failed. It tolerated segregation and sexism, led the nation into war in Vietnam and became stultifying.
So in the late 1960s along came a group of provocateurs like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the rest of the counterculture to upend the Protestant establishment. People like Hoffman were buffoons, but also masters of political theater.
They never attracted majority support for their antics, but they didn’t have to. All they had to do was provoke, offend the crew-cut crowd, generate outrage and set off a cycle that ripped apart the cultural consensus.
The late 1960s were a time of intense cultural conflict, which left a lot of wreckage in its wake. But eventually a new establishment came into being, which we will call the meritocratic establishment.
These were the tame heirs to Hoffman and Rubin. They were well educated. They cut their moral teeth on the civil rights and feminist movements. They embraced economic, social and moral individualism. They came to dominate the institutions of American society on both left and right.
Hillary Clinton is part of this more educated cohort. So are parts of the conservative establishment. If you’re reading this newspaper, you probably are, too, as am I.
This establishment, too, has had its failures. It created an economy that benefits itself and leaves everybody else out. It led America into war in Iraq and sent the working class off to fight it. It has developed its own brand of cultural snobbery. Its media, film and music industries make members of the working class feel invisible and disrespected.
So in 2016, members of the outraged working class elected their own Abbie Hoffman as president. Trump is not good at much, but he is wickedly good at sticking his thumb in the eye of the educated elites. He doesn’t have to build a new culture, or even attract a majority. He just has to tear down the old one.
That’s exactly what he’s doing.
Ignoring the Hoffman reference, this is decent analysis. And accounting for the publication he writes for, and Brooks’ own history, this becomes near stunning analysis. But there are still some glaring holes, chief of which is his use of the term ‘meritocratic establishment.’
That group, which finds its ideological foundations rooted in 1960s Postmodernism and ultimately bog standard Marxism, is better described as the ‘narcissistic’ or the ‘materialist establishment.’ Its credo is “whatever feels good is good.” Cheap trinkets from China to make our wallets feel good. Cheap sex and an increasingly pornified culture to satisfy our more base instincts. The championing of anything once frowned upon socially, so long as it boasts a constituency large enough to be exploited politically, to make us feel more socially virtuous.
Though Brooks points to ‘cultural snobbery’ and disrespect of the working class as the main failings of this Meritocratic Establishment, he fails to mention the empty factories, broken families and hyper-Balkanization of politics along identity lines, all of which have resulted in a fraying of the social and moral fabric in America. What’s more, not only have these failures not been recognized as such, but were actually touted as positive developments by this Meritocratic Establishment of which Brooks admits he is a part.
This recent article from Foreign Policy magazine, one of the more highbrow publications disseminating the views of the Meritocratic Establishment, highlights the destructive nature of the ideology it seeks to promulgate. The article concerns changes the Trump administration wish to make to US policy on accepting refugees.
The problem? The changes proposed are meant to favor candidates who are likely to assimilate into American society:
The Trump administration may now consider “certain criteria that enhance a refugee’s likelihood of successful assimilation and contribution in the United States” in addition to the humanitarian criteria that have long been the standard for refugee claims, according to the determination, which is similar to an executive order in that it has the force of law. That term, “assimilation,” is brand-new in the history of U.S. policy on refugees, and it appears in the document over and over again. Previous directives have used the word “integration,” which comes from the Latin “integrare” — “to make whole” — and implies some change on the part of society as well as those entering it. “Assimilation,” in contrast, “is kind of the erasure of cultural markers,” according to Kathleen Newland, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. “It’s important to make a distinction,” because, she said, the word “has that connotation of erasure of one thing and absorption into the mainstream culture.”
It remains unclear how exactly the administration would go about assessing refugees’ ability to assimilate. The document itself does not address this, despite claims to the contrary from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which referenced the “apparent inclusion” of an “assimilation test” in a confusing Sept. 28 press release. In fact, a close reading of the presidential determination yields no mention of a test. There is, however, an ominous undertone that seems to hint at future efforts to gauge the likelihood that asylum applicants would assimilate. “Improved assimilation of refugees and asylees will not only boost their ability to be successful in the United States, but will also secure our communities by fostering a cohesive society based upon shared civic ideals, and appreciation of our history, and an understanding of the English language,” reads one particularly troubling sentence.
Expecting new entrants to America to learn English, appreciate its history, and adopt its norms so as to maintain a cohesive society is apparently a ‘troubling’ development. Also, note the expectation is for the host culture to change to accommodate the foreigner’s culture through integration. The marked concern shown for the erasure of the foreigner’s culture once reaching American soil, to such an extent that the host culture taking measures to preserve itself can be viewed as troubling, underscores the contempt our betters have of the American Way.
Battle Lines Drawn
This set – the neoconservatives, feminists, Marxists, globalists, and others – have spent the last 40 years destroying the family by corrupting both men and women, and destroying the larger community through eroding culture, economic opportunity and economic freedom.
These developments have set the line in the sand for the culture war as it stands now. On one side stands those who recognize the deleterious effects the ‘meritocratic establishment’ has had on America (and the West as whole). On the other stands those who refuse to recognize Ugly Truths, preferring to guzzle an elixir of Pretty Lies more consistent with a desire to ‘feel good’ at any cost.
Brooks is right in that Trump has had no compunctions in taking a meat cleaver to this old postmodernist order backed by the Meritocratic Establishment. His campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, signaled as much. MAGA both implied that America as it currently stood, in all of its postmodernist-inspired squalor, was not great, which in turn implied that before America took this wrong turn she was great. Finally, it imbued the people with a directive to restore that greatness.
This was highly triggering to the Pretty Lies cohort, who hold the view that the United States before, say 1960, was the most evil place the world had ever known, apart from perhaps Nazi Germany.
This is because slavery, followed by a codified segregation once existed in the United States. Beyond this, white men controlled society, capitalism reigned supreme, Christianity was more or less practiced everywhere, the first duty of a woman was to her children and husband, and divorce, abortion, female promiscuity and homosexuality were heavily selected against via social shaming.
The racial question aside – which will stay aside in the interest of time – it was the ‘traditional’ values of Heritage America which made America great in the first place. Great enough that the generation which formed the so-called Meritocratic Establishment had been pampered by the afterglow of a Post-WWII serenity, bathed in unprecedented prosperity for the masses.
This generation, in comparison to all those who had come before, had grown up with a silver spoon in its mouth and thus thought its proverbial shit didn’t stink. The Meritocratic Establishment was the generational equivalent of every 21 year old in history, in that it thought it knew everything. The ‘antiquated’ societal norms of the past could be discarded with no adverse effects. Indeed, those norms had to be discarded because of the mere existence of social ills and injustices on the historical record. The logical extension of this is a view which holds that certain groups – whites, males, heterosexuals, Christians – can be thought of as inherently evil thanks to the fact that they were ‘in charge’ when bad things in history happened. And the more of those groups one belongs to, the more evil the individual.
This view ignores the reality that the totality of human history is basically one giant catalogue of intense suffering. The great achievement of America, and the West generally, is erecting a civilization so capable of shielding its members from the horrors of Nature, albeit superficially. The effectiveness of the job it has done in that regard can be measured in the observation that our modern comforts have led us to believe that any negative experience must be the result of some grand moral failing. The Meritocratic Establishment, then, seeks to throw the baby out with the bathwater, discarding the very societal norms underpinning that very positive achievement.
Trump’s campaign rhetoric captured what a growing number of people had been coming around to on their own, which is that perhaps a return to a more traditional manner of existence reminiscent of Heritage America was the way forward. With respect to American civics, that starts with the basics – things like the First Amendment, which Trump defended vociferously in the face of a torrent of outrage following the violence in Charlottesville.
Trump Puts A Marker Down
Few understood the real implications of Charlottesville. It was not about neo-Nazis and the KKK, but about the place of culture, history, and basic American tenets like freedom of expression in our society going forward. That the tiki torch marchers and the Nazi LARPing offended the sensibilities of some does not matter a whit. What mattered was that those individuals who took part in that Unite the Right event had the right to peacefully express those views, ultimately made in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue.
The view of our Meritocratic Establishment was that the offensive nature of the protests disqualified those protesters from expressing their views, warranting their silencing at all costs. This is patently un-American. When it was evident that the Unite the Right rally was not going to be shut down by the authorities or the courts, the media, playing its role as the voice of the Meritocratic Establishment, hyped up the event. It did so in the hope of energizing its most radical acolytes (Antifa) for a violent confrontation of the protesters, which ultimately came to fruition and cost one such ‘counter-protester’ her life.
In the aftermath, the media rationalized the violence which came from Antifa because it was done in the name of Social Justice. So when President Trump correctly denounced ALL of the violence, including that which came from the left, as un-American, he was universally criticized.
But in taking his stance, President Trump was standing with the constitution, and with basic American values. Perhaps on an unconscious level, Trump putting down a marker for the primacy of Heritage American values is what was so truly vexing to those leftists. Over the subsequent weeks, the same sort of leftist inspired violence spread to Boston, Phoenix and Berkeley, rendering Trump’s infamous ‘many sides’ comment more and more correct.
A second recent cultural issue with tangential First Amendment implications was the NFL protests of the national anthem. Trump again found himself in the middle of proceedings, after throwaway remarks he made at a rally in Alabama went viral. He had proclaimed that the protests were disrespectful to the flag, and that the public should consider boycotting games as a result
The response from the NFL was a more brazen display of protest, with many owners, some of whom were supporters of Trump, backing their players. The underlying truth of it all is that the protests are misguided. Colin Kaepernick, who began the protest last summer, expressed an explicit desire to disrespect the flag and the anthem because of his belief that the flag and anthem represents a country that oppresses minorities. Particularly with respect to police brutality.
Furthermore, by protesting on an NFL field in uniform, the players are holding a protest at work. This is disrespectful to a consumer base which paid money to watch football, not to participate in politics, just as one who ordered a steak paid money for a nice meal and not to be lectured about how “meat is murder” by his vegetarian waiter. Owing to the fact that the Meritocratic Establishment was in league ideologically with the premise of Kaepernick’s protest, and thus was a vociferous supporter of it, the NFL and its players thought it was on solid footing when it doubled down in response to Trump’s comments.
It soon discovered otherwise.
Fans booed the protesting players, burned jerseys and ripped up season tickets. Some advertisers starting pulling out, cable providers were made to offer refunds for NFL packages, and their inboxes were filled with disapproving messages. Opinion polls showed an overwhelming distaste for the protest, across all groups, including the minorities, for whom the protests were ostensibly undertaken.
When Vice President Pence walked out of an NFL game between his home state Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers, after anthem protests took place, the message was sent loud and clear: this is a war, and we’re going to stand our ground and fight it properly.
The Left Self-Destructs Amid Hypocrisy
The NFL has seemingly heard the message. Jerry Jones, the most prominent owner in the NFL, came out with a directive to his players to stand for and respect the anthem, or sit on the bench. The league commissioner, Roger Goodell, released a memo which ultimately expressed a desire for the players to stand for the anthem, just weeks after issuing a similar statement backing the players’ actions in protesting.
The defeat suffered by the NFL itself is only secondary to the defeat suffered by the Meritocratic Establishment. The NFL protests were a merely a proxy of its agenda as a whole. And to have such a defeat take place in the context of professional football, which has long since supplanted baseball as America’s athletic pastime, only heightens its significance.
And all it has taken was a little bit of backbone from Trump. His unapologetic willingness to fight is a rarity amongst those who would label themselves conservatives. The reason the postmodernist left viewpoint has become so entrenched in the fabric of modern America, such that its tenets are considered to be basic, self-evident truths, is down to the right failing to walk the walk when it mattered most.
As Brooks notes, the Meritocratic Establishment spans across the political divide. For decades those who purported to champion traditional values did nothing as those values were stripped away. Stripped away to such a degree that the right of 50 year old men to share changing rooms with prepubescent girls, or, the right of adults to allow 6 year olds to be stuffed to the gills with hormones so as to forcibly change their gender have become a topics worthy of serious debate as civil rights issues. The reward for these so-called conservatives, like David Brooks, was a place in the Meritocratic Establishment accompanied with ‘prestigious’ gigs such as having a regular column in the New York Times.
The ease through which Trump and Pence have made inroads in this culture war – a few tweets here, a comment there, an executive order over there – serve to further highlight the utter ineptitude the likes of Brooks have shown over the last few decades.
That said, leftists have been doing their part in the way of recent episodes of self-destruction.
Take the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The movie producer has been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape by dozens of women. The standard allegation is that he either coerced or forced aspiring models and actresses to perform sexual favors in exchange for career advancement. Some of those who rebuffed him essentially had their careers destroyed; such was his power in the industry.
In hindsight, it seems that Weinstein missed a trick. He is currently being condemned for doing things like luring women into his hotel room and trying to force them to give him a massage or to watch him take a shower. Instead, if he had decided to identify as a 12 year old girl, for example, he could have gained access to the girls locker room and forced girls to watch him shower. For that he would have been considered ‘stunning and brave’ by the deviant-worshipping left. He could have even made a movie about it and won another Oscar.
Jokes aside, the long term importance of this revolves around Weinstein’s position as the preeminent Hollywood mogul. The same Hollywood which helps cultivate the ‘cultural snobbery’ which made ‘members of the working class feel invisible and disrespected,’ as per Brooks, before turning around and shoving that disrespect down the throats of that same working class via television and movies. All of this topped off with an air of superiority suggesting that the cultural path forward went through Tinseltown.
The Weinstein episode now leaves the legitimacy of Hollywood as cultural pacesetters in tatters. It is not that before this, the remnants of Heritage America necessarily took its cues from Hollywood in any way. Many were already wise to the cesspool that it is. Indeed, the term ‘casting couch’ was already a part of the lexicon.
What’s changed, somewhat, is that the seedy nature of the business has now been put on the official record, in a big way. The public now has to ask itself whether it sees it fit to take moral directives from an industry which preys on naïve, fresh faced boys and girls, offering them a shot at fame, notoriety and riches, at the cost of the sort of personal degradation only mitigated by a downward spiral into drugs and/or depression.
Beyond this level of hypocrisy lie many others. On one level, Weinstein, and Hollywood in general, purports to be a champion of feminism. However, Hollywood looked the other way as Weinstein allegedly went on a multi-decade sexual harassment spree. Weinstein’s antics were so widely known and tolerated that they were joked about at award ceremonies and in television scripts. Yet these feminist crusaders let it go, because Weinstein gave them the money, fame and attention they so desired.
Case in point: the Weinstein-backed documentary The Hunting Ground. Anne Hendershott of the Washington Times described it thusly:
“The Hunting Ground” portrayed college campuses as places where serial sexual predators roam free to prey on unsuspecting women. Women were presented as helpless victims of evil predators who lurked in every fraternity house and campus gathering. It was disturbing. The only problem was that the film was based on a lie — none of the cases described in the film happened the way the filmmakers claimed they did. In fact, “The Hunting Ground” was so egregiously dishonest that 19 Harvard University law professors denounced the film for its dishonest portrayal of fabricated sexual violence and serial sex abuse on campus. Elizabeth Bartholet, one of the Harvard law professors speaking out about film’s errors told a reporter for Reason that the portrayal of the student-rapist in the documentary is “an amazing lie at the heart of a movie claiming to be a documentary.”
There is a special irony in Weinstein being done by such vocal accusations from actresses given his promotion of the utterly fictitious concept of a rape epidemic on college campuses. Weinstein contributed to the creation a world in which any man can be expelled from campus, or worse, at the behest of any female who felt aggrieved. Anything from saying “Hello” in the street through to a consensual sexual encounter which was later regretted could spell the downfall for an unsuspecting man. And here too, the Trump administration stands in opposition to such Clown World directives. Consider Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her removal of the Obama-era statutes which gave the rape culture hysteria a legal backbone.
Generally speaking, the court of public opinion, which in recent decades been elevated above and beyond courts of the legal variety by the left, with its preference for imparting mob justice, are now being turned inward. The irony truly runs deep.
Then there are actresses targeted by Weinstein, themselves even more vocal feminist crusaders. Often times they did nothing about the alleged incidents. It seems they were prepared to tolerate Weinstein rather than jeopardize their personal glitz, glamour and millions in the bank by exposing him sooner. As such, they put their fellow woman in danger by allowing such an alleged predator to roam free.
On a political level, Weinstein was a massive donor to Democrat politicians, as Hollywood is in general. The Clintons, Obamas, and assorted blowhards like Michael Moore had nothing but effusive praise for the man for years. However, when the scandal broke, it was met with deafening silence from DC leftists. This is relevant because these stalwarts of the Meritocratic Establishment are usually Johnny on the spot in terms of calling out any and all discretions coming from the right, always so quick to detect the coded ‘dogwhistles’ of bigotry in the language of people like President Trump.
Yet, for days after the Weinstein story broke, these elites stayed silent, frozen like deer in headlights, no doubt consulting legions of Public Relations experts in an attempt to craft the perfect statement. One that would adequately admonish Weinstein, while relegating their own multi-decade knowledge and embrace of him to the background. And, nearly a week after the fact, these statements came, all professing shock and horror at the revelation of a side Weinstein they supposedly never knew.
They aren’t fooling anyone, although their stance is understandable. After all, they still would like to remain in those self-proclaimed positions at the head of the table.
Then, there is the media itself. The mainstream media initially trod lightly on the subject as the story gathered steam. The late night television hosts all remained silent. Saturday Night Live reportedly had a Weinstein sketch ready to go, but axed it at the last moment. When asked about the soft treatment, the SNL creator remarked that it was a ‘New York thing.’
That was an interesting comment given President Trump is also native New Yorker. Apparently that New York Thing didn’t apply to him, as he has been the topic of leftist vitriol night in night out from late night hosts and comedians. By the logic of TV execs, Trump’s anti-leftist political views are a far greater evil than serial sexual harassment, because the sexual harasser at least has the correct opinions. That should tell you everything you need to know.
But in case you need a bit more, there is NBC in particular, which reportedly spiked the Ronan Farrow piece on Weinstein which took the scandal to the next level. This was the same NBC which 12 months earlier leaked the infamous Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump saying crass things about women, in a last ditch attempt to derail his campaign in the latter stages of the 2016 election.
Farrow had to turn to The New Yorker, which ended up running the exposé.
That hypocrisy from NBC introduces another aspect of this saga, one fundamental to the rift going on within the left. Farrow is a leftist, but also a millennial. This means his brand of leftism is most likely to be imbued with the primacy of intersectionality, the idea that all forms of oppression are related and form a patchwork of systemic, tightly-knit oppression.
In other words, Farrow’s leftism is less the “heeeyyyy maaaahhhnnnn women should sleep around and work 9-5 cubicle jobs just like men” advocacy of the Boomers and more the “wow, just wow, feminism is only for straight white women, I can’t even” variety.
The Brewing Civil War Within the Left
The NBCs, Hollywood execs, Clintons and Obamas of the left are all representative of the former sort, and they are slowly being overrun by the millennials and their intersectionality. This is going to set the stage for more infighting between the individual identity groups which huddle under the leftist tent. All ‘progress,’ as they define it, must occur at equal rates for all groups, simultaneously. If one group attains more ‘equality’ than another, by definition that group is oppressive, owing to their subsequent ascent up the Privilege League Table.
This sort of thinking has led to some interesting dilemmas for leftists. For example, in the wake of the passing of Hugh Hefner, leftists can’t decide whether he was force for good thanks to his promotion of sexual liberation, gays and minorities; or whether he was a force for bad thanks to Playboy being a tool for the ‘objectification of women.’
Cam Newton, a black NFL quarterback, was pilloried for being sexist in appearing to make light of a female reporter’s question at a press conference. The reporter, in turn was later forced to apologize herself when it was revealed that four years ago she had made ‘racist’ comments on Twitter.
This past week, Eminem had an anti-Trump freestyle go viral. Most leftists roared with delight, but some were wary of the fact that Eminem, a white rapper, got so much attention for his lyrics when several black rappers had seen their anti-Trump raps receive much less attention.
In another viral video from a few weeks ago, a white male Antifa member was scolded by a female non-white Antifa member for not being violent enough. According to the female, her comrades’ whiteness and maleness rendered him ‘the problem,’ and as such simply marching and chanting slogans wasn’t enough. His bewilderment was clear as she artfully explained to him that his contributions to the cause could only be measured in the number of people he punched.
Examples like these highlight the absurdity of the leftist opposition to Heritage America. The value in them acting out lies in the dissuasion of those moderate folks who may ordinarily be seduced by sweet sounding Pretty Lies, but are stopped short when confronted with the crazed behavior accompanying those views.
In the age of Trump, the hatred of the values of Heritage America which the so-called Meritocratic Establishment has spent decades advocating will continue to be met head on by a President who unapologetically stands for those values. This fortitude coming from the foremost public figure in America provides comfort for said moderates who would otherwise look the other way for fear of a leftist mob outrage.
Trump’s playbook has been pretty simple in regards to these cultural flashpoints. He primes the public, through incidents like his takes on Charlottesville and the NFL protests, to notice the hatred the postmodernist left has for America. He does so merely through holding reasonable viewpoints, placing his opposition in unenviable positions.
After Charlottesville, Trump merely stated that political violence was wrong, in all of its forms. When further pressed, he explicitly called out the Alt-Left (Antifa) in addition to some of the seedier elements on the right. This forced the leftists to own the un-American position that violence is good if it is perpetrated against an opinion it didn’t like. Then after weeks of continued Antifa violence, the Meritocratic Establishment, in the shape of both Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan, was forced to denounce Antifa, aligning itself with Trump’s original point in the process.
Doubling Down on Crazy
Once cornered, the leftists face a choice of submission or doubling down. You can bet your last dollar they will double down, because at this point we are talking about an existential threat to its position of cultural supremacy. Marxist movements can afford no defeats. There can be no heretics and non-believers among the ranks. It is why communist countries severely limit the access its population has to the outside world, for it would take very little to expose the fact that the dictatorship is full of rubbish.
It is why, despite the 50 year Long March of Progress racking up win after win, we still have a ‘long way to go,’ according to leftists. The translation is that there are still plenty out there who notice Ugly Truths and therefore are threats. Leftists cannot risk a swelling of the ranks of such people, and therefore they will fight ever harder to secure their wins and add more.
But in doing so, they will have to dial up the crazy. See Gerald McCoy, an NFL lineman who thinks that a mandate for the players to stand during the anthem would cause an ‘uproar.’
Such an uproar would only cement their defeat on the issue. The media no doubt would applaud the insolence, broadcasting it far and wide. All it would achieve, however is to expose a wider swath of the public to grown men throwing expansive tantrums on national television, for being made to show a modicum of respect for the country which made their profession possible. At that point, the underlying cultural argument made by the players will be tainted with what can only be described as a hatred for America, and as a result will be summarily disregarded by many.
As with Hollywood, the underlying cultural direction it would have us go will be tainted with the knowledge these directives come from a truly degenerate lot, and thus summarily disregarded.
This is how culture wars are won. And to think it only took an unapologetic man and his Twitter account to start shifting the tide.