Saturday, October 18, 2008

Write Turn Cafe: Culture wars, media, and conservatism, part 1

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Today's conservative voice has many built-in frustrations. If we speak out against the dangers of socialism we are labelled McCarthyites. If we question Obama's citizenship or even criticize the man himself, we must surely be racists... never mind that we'd all vote for Thomas Sowell in a heartbeat. If we recognize the threat of Islamofascism, we are dangerously intolerant of Muslims. And everyone who has absorbed the relentless message of liberal mainstream culture knows that a Republican is either a vacuous Thurston Howell III smugly enjoying his probably unearned wealth, or a wild-eyed outcast poking his rifle out the window of his cabin.

In our daily lives, convervatives make rather less an issue of image than liberals do (as I've observed in my considerable personal experience with the unapologetically left-wing media industry, as well as my year at UC Berkeley), but that doesn't mean we're not aware of it. Do we disregard issues related to our image and currency within an arena defined and all but owned by our ideological adversaries? How can we carry messages across this divide? Even someone like David Horowitz, who was an active participant in radical politics before he awakened to his new beliefs-- views expressed with exacting care and powerful eloquence-- has far less mainstream acknowledgement than he should. Instead of these rare first-hand insights being given all due respect, his perspective brands him as someone who has sold out. At worst, we see ad hominem attacks; at best, we hear the sound of silence.

So what do you do when the culture itself is a kind of funhouse mirror?

Unfortunately, this seems a rhetorical question, at least for now. We preach largely to the choir, in hopes that someone from the other side wanders by the church and hears our message through the walls.

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