The Right Finally Joins the Culture War!

Apparently, it's been a one-sided affair up until now.

thinker statue facepalm
Photo by Alex E. Proimos under CC BY 2.0

Via memeorandum, I see an essay by Ben Domenech and Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist headlined “At Long Last, The Right Has Joined The Culture War” and with the subtitle “The left has understood the power of the culture war for half a century. But something happened leading into Tuesday: The right figured it out too.”

All I can say is, it’s about time.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    who knew there could be a war with only one side fighting.

  2. CSK says:

    It’s a side issue, but given that Ben Domenech adores Trump and his wife Megan McCain loathes Trump, I’ve always wondered how they can stay married, let alone live in the same zip code.

    As for the right suddenly joining the culture war…they’ve been fighting it since most of us were kids, if not longer.

  3. de stijl says:

    I was getting mighty lonely.

    Thank Odin the right finally decided to join in. I was getting bored.

    I know Domenech is pretty stupid. Did he really believe that the right was not waging political culture war?

    Jerry Falwell would disagree. And that was the 70s.

    The pearl clutching makes me want to vomit.

  4. de stijl says:

    Domenech is married to Megan McCain. Shallow and oblivious is the common currency.

    It explains the attraction.

    Running your life off of resentment must suck.

  5. de stijl says:

    Re: top photo

    That’s a very nice statue. The body is realistic.

    What is that statue? I like it.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Saw that link, chalking this post up to @james you reading this so we don’t have to. Thanks James

  7. Jon says:

    @de stijl: Caïn venant de tuer son frère Abel, by Henri Vidal in Tuileries Garden in Paris, France. via

  8. senyordave says:

    We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  9. Jon says:

    @Jon: Gah, no edit.

    Bigger/better picture.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Got our Starbucks in Christmas cups yesterday. Imagine, Starbucks has been doing these agnostic holiday cups for so many years without a peep from the fundies until now. Next thing you know, they’ll start lambasting people who say “Happy Holidays”.

  11. de stijl says:


    They might act as if there was a war on Christmas.

    Be super pissy at you if you happened to say “Happy Holidays” to them. While ignoring the fact that most of Christmas is essentially pagan.

  12. de stijl says:



    I like that statue a lot. Buffer than my form, but realistic.

    I appreciate that.

  13. Kathy says:

    One wonders if fire will ever be hot.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    As is so often the case I’m left to wonder whether MAGAts are idiots or liars. Are they A) actually so stupid they believe their own lies? Or is it that B) they know their people are such idiots they’ll believe anything? As usual the answer is C: Both of the above.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    Scott Lemieux at LGM reviews the sudden and recent origin of CRT as a political issue. Compare and contrast with the Federalist piece James linked. And thank you James, as @Sleeping Dog: says, for reading The Federalist so I don’t have to. Although you made me skim this piece.

    The Federalist piece is what I refer to as The TAC Fallacy, the belief that changes in culture are the result of some Demoncrat/Deep State/Soros conspiracy and the right is just clumsily and slowly responding. Except the TAC guys actually believe this and it’s unlikely Domenech does. It’s basically an extreme version of the Murc’s Law fallacy. Contra the Federalist link, I’ve been commenting for some weeks that CRT provides us an unusually clear and well documented example, if we’ll just look, of how FOX and the GOPs manufacture this nonsense almost from whole cloth.

  16. Jon says:

    @gVOR08: It is also very much the abuser’s excuse: look what you made me do!

  17. de stijl says:

    It is now illegal in my state to teach critical race theory.

    The definition seems to be whatever makes white folks uncomfortable.

    How is that remotely constitutional?

  18. gVOR08 says:
  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Are they A) actually so stupid they believe their own lies? Or is it that B) they know their people are such idiots they’ll believe anything? As usual the answer is C: Both of the above.

    D. Neither. Their speech is primarily pre-symbolic and if the particular words they’re saying have some meaning attached to them is irrelevant. Like a parrot saying “Polly wants a cracker”, the vocalization just means they want attention, or at best that they’re hungry, but it doesn’t have any actual attachment to having a preference for crackers.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    At least he’s not groaning from catheter pain…

  21. Jon says:

    @Mister Bluster: We don’t know that for sure; the Bible is unclear as to whether or not Cain was catheterized when he killed Abel. I’ve seen cogent arguments for both sides.

  22. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I used to have a neighbor that had a smart bird. We were buds. Her bird was a total effing bad-ass.

    That bird would perch on my shoulder. Demand head strokes. I think it was a guy. It was bright and beautiful and the bird plumage truism is that guys are gaudy and preening. He (I really have no idea, I am assuming) loved head strokes.

    He was quite the character. I was a new person he could buddy up to.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    If all they want is attention they seem to have accidentally acquired an awful lot of power in the process.

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wait, do Trumpies think they’re going to start making movies and TV and music? They can’t even write a decent conspiracy theory.

  25. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jon:..the Bible is unclear

    Apparently there are two creation stories in Genesis so how are we ever to know?

  26. Gustopher says:

    I think James did us all a disservice when he didn’t quote anything from the article.

    While radical illiberalism crept from academia to the so-called real world, the establishment assured us it was a non-issue. Republicans boasted of their brilliant strategy to moderate on social issues, a theory that earned them Twitter follows from Very Serious People and airtime on cable news.

    It was all wrong. All of it. The culture war is not only a moral battleground for conservatives, it’s a politically advantageous one. It animates voters. People care, not because they’re racist or unsophisticated, but because an unhealthy culture affects their everyday lives just as immediately as a higher tax bill. It’s not a distraction from “the issues,” it underlies all of them.

    It’s a lot of words.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There’s an advanced bit of Q lore about the bloodlines of JFK, Patton, Donald Trump and Michael Flynn, which I barely followed when I heard about it.

    So, now they are crimping from the Da Vinci Code, along with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Except now Tom Hanks is the villain rather than the hero.

  28. dazedandconfused says:

    Gotta protect the “we are under attack” posture. Not the first screening barrage on the BS front.

  29. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Well, there was Trumpkin par excellence Rick Santorum, who became CEO of Echolight Studios, a Christian moviemaker, in 2013. They seem not have made any movies since 2017.

  30. Gavin says:

    I like how the acronyms for the fake R culture wars represent continuously decreasing technologies: PC followed by CRT.
    I look forward to PDP, UNIVAC, and Illiac. Make it happen!

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Apparently there are two creation stories in Genesis so how are we ever to know?

    I don’t know, I’m still trying to sort out the 20 Commandments, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

  32. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Since conservatives suck at creating culture, of course they are losing the Culture Wars. As is typical, they think they are losing due to a lack of trying. They can’t grok that they are out of ammunition. They’ve wasted what little imagination they have on their alternate reality BS.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Alas, the Supreme Court of the United States decides what is constitutional and what is not. This is why who gets on it has been considered so important by so many people (and why the Notorious RBG and now the other octogenarian whose name I’ve forgotten are so foolish to not have known when to retire–and there’s even a Chinese/Korean proverb about it, too).

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: Yeah, that the accounts represent two different stories by two different authors is certainly one opinion. The one I grew up with holds that the second being more in depth and more focused on the creation of man sets the stage for the further story about the fall and why that fall is significant, but are the work of one writer. I’m sure there are others available also.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Wow! I just looked them up. They made a lot more movies than I thought they had–or is it that they made the same 2 or 3 movies 17 times total? Archetype is always confusing for me.

  36. Mister Bluster says:

    Whenever I seek guidance from Scripture I consult Azimov’s Guide to the Bible which ends thusly:

    A second creation, a perfect one, now replaces the old imperfect one:

    Revelation 21:1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; . . .
    Revelation 21:2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God . . .

    The new Jerusalem is filled with the triumphant symbolism of the number twelve both in its old and new meanings:

    Revelation 21:10. . . . the holy Jerusalem . . .
    Revelation 21:12. . . . had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates . . . and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
    Revelation 21:14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

    And when the description of the city in the most glowing possible terms is completed, the writer of the book quotes an angel to remind the reader emphatically that all that is predicted is rapidly to come to pass:

    Revelation 22:6. . . . These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God . . . sent his angel to shew . . . the things which must shortly be done.
    Revelation 22:7. Behold, I come quickly . . .

    And with that assurance—still unfulfilled nearly two thousand years later—the New Testament ends.

    Azimov’s Guide to the Bible

  37. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Probably the same 2 or 3 17 times over. I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard of any of them. Sony Pictures and Universal Studios don’t seem to have ever quaked in their boots at the competition.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    I just watched on over-long but interesting video on why conservatives aren’t funny. It made the point that conservative comics used to exist – the blue collar comedy tour, for instance – but the retreat from reality into a cultish paranoia made comedy essentially impossible for them. Comedy rests on identifying commonalities and looking at them from a different perspective, not on retaliating against liberal humor, and none of that happens when you’re swallowing hateful lies as your main diet and the only way you know how to punch is down.

    There used to be a belief that Germans were not funny. But Henning Wehn is a stand-up working mostly in the UK, and he’s funny even in his second language. It’s not so much that Germans couldn’t be funny, rather it’s that Nazis can’t be.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: From what I read at IMDB, the movies are all “inspiring Lifetime/Hallmark overcoming tragedy and/or inspired by true events” fare. Given that both Lifetime and Hallmark have established production infrastructure, I’m not sure who would be buying these movies (I haven’t streamed a movie since… ever), so I can see how need for new productions might have dried up.

  40. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I think they used to have a website, but it seems to have vanished. Anyway, Rick seem to have moved on, not necessarily to greener pastures, given that he got bounced from his commentator’s gig at CNN this year.

    I’ll never forget him saying that when he was elected president, his first message to the American people would be that it’s not okay for married Christian couples to use birth control. I suppose that means it’s okay for Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, pagan, and agnostic and atheist couples.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I remember that. My reaction, as I recall, was that I hadn’t realized that he was being elected Prophet of God as well as President. But, yeah, Christians don’t have much say over what “the heathens” do. I wish more Christians realized this and will give him points (a very small number) for his restraint on the whole “Christian Nation” meme. (And probably be forced to take them away as soon as Kylopod or somebody else weighs in with something else more radical that he said. [sigh–eyeroll, facepalm])

  42. Kathy says:


    I thought they’d mastered FUBAR already.

  43. de stijl says:


    Wait. Patton Oswald is part of Q lore now?

    That’s pretty cool.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Zvei peanuts vere valking down the strasse. One vas assaulted.

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    But, yeah, Christians don’t have much say over what “the heathens” do.

    It’s not that — it’s a competition, and they’re the adversary. Criticizing married Christians for not breeding comes from the same place as criticizing whites for not breeding — namely, a fear of being outnumbered by Them.

    (It also recognizes the truth that religion is primarily inherited, not acquired — which should be proof all by itself that people’s beliefs are generally grounded in anything but indoctrination…)

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT: Aren’t generally grounded in…
    I got the edit button, and rejoiced — but when I submitting the edit, it told me I was no longer able to edit that comment. Pretty weird, since the comment had only been up for 30 seconds or so.