Another week, another weirdly chosen culture war thing picked by loud resentful conservative types as a hill to die on when everyone else has already long moved past it. Ever wonder why this happens?
Stephen Prothero just wrote a book about this kinda thing, about the function of particular topics chosen as hills to die on by American conservative types seemingly motivated mainly by ressentiment above all else. He wrote a neat little summary here:
‘Conservatives typically lose these battles because the causes they select are lost from the start. For example, culture warriors took on Catholics when the Catholic population was mainstreaming and gaining power. They took on same-sex marriage when many gays and lesbians were already out of the closet and accepted by their heterosexual relatives, co-workers and neighbors.
Southern historian Charles Reagan Wilson wrote about the “Religion of the Lost Cause” embraced by Southerners after the Civil War. According to this gospel, the Confederate dead were martyrs in a righteous cause, not losers in the war against slavery. Even now, winning a battle doesn’t make a culture warrior righteous; losing does. Each defeat proves that America is in fact going to hell and is desperately in need of a defender.’
Fun fact: it’s been this way in the U.S. since the beginning, from right after Washington retired onward.