The imagined war

Several times I’ve heard this expression now: “the culture war”. The expression tends to be used by traditionalists faced with issues they have taken for granted for the longest time but are now being debated and assessed. Recently, the American Family Association (AFA) took a stand against soup maker Campbell Inc for placing ads in a gay publication, one of which featured two women in a lesbian relationship and their son. The AFA expressed regret that the soup maker had chosen not to remain “neutral in the culture war”. 

Jesus with gunDoes this war really exist? Is it really a war? It certainly appears to be imagined or waged by religious folks against the forces of change. Society evolves constantly, one way or another, things change and it’s hard to stand still or go back to an idealised golden age. Especially because no such thing as a golden age exists. Every time in history has its victims who inevitably find the strength to fight to revert the status quo and, whenever that happens, you get those who try to resist the change. But whereas those who fight the change go squarely against the agents of change, those who fight for change are not waging their battle against whatever group happens to oppose it. They are merely asserting themselves. This makes them a lot more vulnerable because they are the ones who stand to lose everything.

So can we really talk about a war when it is fought only on one side of the divide? “Aggression” would seem a more fitting terms. Because only one group sees this “war”, it seems that only that group is in charge of defining which actions fall on which side of the divide. When the AFA asks Campbell to remain “neutral”, they are not asking them not to portray traditional (straight) or non-traditional (gay) families but quite simply not to portray gay families. Period. Their request that Campbell remains “neutral” is really a request for them to side with the AFA. 

This confusion is due to the fact that an opposition between tradition and homosexuality is a very artificial construct. Tradition and homosexuality are not two sides of the same coin, they are different currencies altogether. 

And yet we see this war being waged everywhere. Recently the Catholic Pope has gone as far as declaring that homosexuality and transexualism could destroy humanity, that gender conformity must be defended in the same way we defend the rain forest, out of a spirit of ecological conservation. This is a clear attack in a culture war that’s being waged and imagined by traditionalists but not fought on their own turf. The outcome of this war does not affect them but those they choose to fight. 

This leaves me to wonder how long it will be until someone brings the war into the aggressors’ homes and starts to question how much longer we can continue to tolerate religious leaders whose sole purpose has now become to create conflict and incite hatred.


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