If the month of June told us anything at The Federalist, it is that the world is falling apart in exactly the way we have anticipated, and that’s why we’re needed. It was our biggest traffic month ever in the less than two years since we launched, and we have the culture war – and more specifically Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal, Alexander Hamilton, the Confederate flag controversy, and Justice Anthony Kennedy – to thank for it. Through it all, our talented writers have provided opinion analysis on these issues and more from a perspective that has been lacking for too long in a center-right publication – one which puts culture first, and engages it as it is, with an understanding that our politics is downstream from all the things people in real life talk about every day.
What is remarkable about all these controversies is how much their elements reflect the concerns many of our writers have been talking about separately, before we brought them all together, for years – particularly concerns about encroachment on liberty in a newly aggressive way by a mob of intolerant extremists interested in silencing dissent. The culture war has gone through many different phases – Rob Tracinski and I will have a piece on that Monday – and the center-right media has responded to it differently within those phases. But it’s clear now that we are entering a new stage of the culture war, where the priority is eliminating the presence of opposing views in the public square.
When William F. Buckley started National Review sixty years ago, the enemies of American liberty were very different than they are today, as they were when Bill Kristol started the Weekly Standard twenty years ago. The threats to freedom today come from an emboldened secular left that is fundamentally at odds with the principles of individual liberty that undergirded the American revolution, that will broker no dissent, and that will raise up safe spaces, seek out microaggressions, insist on trigger warnings, install speech codes, and threaten thoughtcrime wherever they find it.
Liberals generally under President Obama have sought to govern the country as they would a big city – installing policies which regulate to the nth degree the actions, property, and choices of Americans. But we are seeing here a different and more damaging strain of the left emerge in the latest stage of the culture war – one that seeks to govern the nation as if it were a college campus. In their childish view, society is a hermetically sealed environment totally controlled by authority, and when the assertion of traditionalism itself is nothing more than a giant trigger, rights to speech, association, religion are subject to permission.
We should engage in culture happily, though, and I am hopeful, not just because of the fact our message about culture at The Federalist is resonating, but because the extremists on the other side are already overreaching to such a degree that a response from reasonable Americans is inevitable. The story of the culture wars is a story of overreach and backlash. There will be a backlash, and we are happy to be part of it.
So thank you for reading us, and I hope you never find us boring!