Culture is something to be cherished and exchanged, not attacked and bludgeoned.
The term “culture war” is most often associated with Pat Buchanan, the founder of this magazine who invoked it during his speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. But it was actually coined a year earlier by a sociologist named James Davison Hunter, who published a book called Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. Hunter’s neologism was meant to capture arguments over social issues like abortion and sex education, which he saw as part of a greater clash of visions between religious traditionalism and secular progressivism.
“Culture war” was appropriated by Hunter from the Bismarckian Kulturkampf, which translates to “cultural struggle,” and then sharpened into a “war,” in recognition of how visceral the fight felt to the activists involved. It’s a term that’s at once both redundant and striking. It’s redundant because just about every war is a culture war; mass violence, whether literal or figurative, is rarely waged between people who share the same vision of the world. And it’s striking because culture properly practiced isn’t something that should bring anyone to blows. In a healthy society, culture is cherished, preserved, exchanged, studied. To wage an internecine war over culture seems disfigured, even deranged. Continue reading from The American Conservative.