If it feels like you are being asked to take sides on every topic, it is because everything is a wedge issue now.
This time in our history is exhausting, and evicting former President Donald Trump from the White House did not appreciably improve matters. We are battle-worn from our country’s longest-running conflict, the “culture war.”
In American politics, culture warriors are the most expendable participants in the national discussion. Nothing good ever comes from the cynical bloviating and wringing of hands that characterize our regular descents into deep cultural warfare. The people who shoot first in the culture wars are there to distract from the real work at hand and the real issues that affect people.
Current manufactured outrage and active lying over the decision by Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel’s estate to discontinue the publishing and licensing of six books containing problematic cultural and racial stereotypes is currently clogging up the discourse.
Weeping sores of the media like Fox News host Tucker Carlson are performatively up in arms over Seuss being allegedly a victim of “cancel culture.” Karens of all sexes posted videos and tweets decrying the cancelation of Dr. “Suess” (sic), proving by their dodgy spelling that they likely did not read Seuss much in the first place.
Opinion by George D. Lang
The decision to pull And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer was made by Seuss’ estate. Seuss wrote nearly 50 books, and none of these six titles show up ever as anyone’s favorite Seuss volume. I think I read my son Mulberry Street once as part of an anthology we owned when he was a baby. Once was enough — for me and for him.
Of course, Carlson and the Fox and Friends crew are freaking out as if U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez set fire to a library full of Seuss literature. By the way, AOC did no such thing, so stop thinking about it, Tucker.
Culture warriors deploy these fake controversies because it takes attention away from actual issues and events.
Conservatives, particularly the seditionists and seditionist-adjacent ones, are screaming about Seuss being canceled because they do not want anyone to pay attention to the January 6 investigation.
By the way, two members of the Oath Keepers who served as Roger Stone’s bodyguards during the January 6 attack were arrested this week but I should be focused on whether children of the future will ever experience the sheer ecstatic joy of reading Scrambled Eggs Super!
The culture war has been active long before Bill O’Reilly started the “war on Christmas” 20 years ago. It goes back to President Herbert Hoover’s 1928 anti-Catholic campaign against his Democratic opponent, Al Smith, as well as U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee that blacklisted hundreds of Hollywood film workers in the 1950s and Pat Buchanan and Roger Ailes’ “silent majority” strategy for former President Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. In all respects, culture wars claim victims by “othering” them, claiming they are not “real Americans.”
The Dixie Chicks spoke out against President George W. Bush and his wars in the early 2000s and got blackballed and dragged by radio. At the time, I spent most of my Saturday mornings at a radio station where I put together my weekly show, and you should have seen what these little, little men wrote and drew on Dixie Chicks headshots posted on bulletin boards around the station.
Granted, the Dixie Chicks suffered less than most Americans of Arabic descent during that time, and like conservative commentators who veer off into racism or fascism and get fired from their media punditry jobs, the First Amendment was not designed to protect the Dixie Chicks’ livelihood. But last year, when the trio dropped the “Dixie” from their name, they got dragged again for so-called “political correctness” when they were just disassociating from racist traitors.
Perhaps it was exacerbated by the Trump presidency, but it seems to take little for people to get lathered into a performative outrage over cultural divides. They get freaked out by rainbow-hued Oreo cookies as if Lada Gaga is force-feeding them tolerance.
On the Seuss front, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted a video of himself reading Green Eggs and Ham after claiming on the House floor that Democrats are trying to ban Dr. Seuss.
I would call McCarthy an idiot on the grounds that Green Eggs and Ham was not one of the discontinued books and because there is a deep well of conclusive evidence that he is, in fact, an idiot.
But what McCarthy and his McCarthyite fellow travelers are doing is working. Half the country believes that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi personally banned Dr. Seuss. By the way, Pelosi did no such thing, so stop thinking about it, Tucker.
They blame Democrats for Hasbro/Playskool’s decision to drop the honorific from Mr. Potato Head. This might be the dumbest complaint of all the current ones. If Hasbro wants to take its Potato Head line of high-quality plastic toys and expand it into a Potato Head Toy Universe (PHTU) in which that potato can be anything in the known world and beyond is just fine. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head were pretty basic, anyway.
Unfortunately, that narrative has taken hold, as well. But it is possible that this strategy of trying to drown out the January 6 investigation and the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with ripe nonsense is drawing to a close.
Following Oprah Winfrey’s Sunday interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in which Markle talked about the Windsor-based racism that nearly drove her to suicide, conservatives like former journalist Megyn Kelly and former Trump aide Stephen Miller came to the Royal Family’s defense, essentially calling Markle a snowflake for not being tough enough to stand up to billionaire racists.
Somehow, I think the strategy of attacking a widely popular figure with a great deal of public sympathy and sidling up to a family with an actual Nazi sympathizer interred at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore might not go over so well.
Feature photo by Andrea on Flickr published under Creative Commons license
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Last Updated March 10, 2021, 6:38 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor