Cinema = Oppression

Clark Stooksbury lets the ludicrous Stanley Kurtz have it. Kurtz is a prime example of how certain conservatives now display all the traits of the victim mentality conservatives once despised. They find oppression in every piece of pop-culture detritus that doesn't affirm their own worldview.

Kurtz is frequently in hysterics over a television show called "Big Love," which is apparently about polygamy, or what Kurtz calls "polyamory" (a bastard neologism of Latin and Greek roots, something else I can't stand). Like most people, I have never seen this show. It's on HBO — premium cable. I don't even have basic cable. And do you know why? Because I don't like the tripe that passes for mass entertainment. I have a hard time feeling oppressed by something that I don't watch and don't pay for.

But Kurtz thinks those of us who do the sensible thing and shut off the noise boxes ought to feel oppressed — be afraid, be very afraid:

Conservatives need to face the fact that our position in this culture is genuinely precarious. If we lose our hold on power, we’ll scream bloody murder on our outlets at everything the other side does. Yet those screams may only confirm our helplessness. The deep cultural dimension of our political battles makes an ordinary transfer of political power far more consequential than it was in the days when America had a bipartisan foreign policy and a broad cultural consensus.

How the blazes does Republican control of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court translate into a more conservative culture? If America has suddenly become more conservative in its film, radio, and television in the age of Bush, I haven't noticed. And if Kurtz means that a.) Republican governments can censor culture he doesn't like and b.) Republican governments forestall liberal efforts to use the force of law against conservatives in the culture, I have bad news for him: any aggrandizement of the state that can achieve a.) will, at some point in the not too distant future, also undermine b.) When you make the state a censor, you give it power not only to prohibit what is wrong but also what is right.

Kurtz ought to know that, and I'm sure he does. But the culture war has become the equivalent of the old bloody shirt, a symbol to wave about to raise up the voters while distracting them from what's actually happening in government. Bush and his pet Congress are in no sense conservative — not with their Wilsonian wars, their schizophrenic and feckless immigration policy, their trashing of constitutional and traditonal liberties, and their record-breaking spending. Conservative voters should not give them a pass just because they dislike "the Da Vinci Code."


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