Cultural Wars

Sometimes the “cultural wars” over race, gender, sexuality, and patriotism are understood as simply a battle over values, symbols, words, etc. in contrast to the hard reality of economic struggles. Cultural wars, for sure, have that dimension and should be engaged at that level. But as this article reveals how they are fought out and resolved have every bit as much materiality and practical consequence as struggles in the economic arena. Further, economic struggles can’t be separated from “cultural struggles.” Neither form of struggle floats around doing its own thing in some self enclosed space. Instead, they are intertwined as well as mutually constructed. Thus they should be understood and acted on in that way.


For two years Trump has assailed the major media as the purveyor of “fake news.” His aim is obviously to delegitimize and defang the news outlets that exposed the crimes, pervasive corruption, and disastrous policies of his administration. Up to now he has had some success in this effort, but not yet able to register a knockout blow of the “fake news” media. Many major news outlets still oppose him and much of the public isn’t buying what he is selling.
But herein lies the danger of the present moment. The decision of Attorney General Barr to issue a letter over the weekend that exonerates Trump from any wrongdoing before the full report of the Mueller investigation sees the light of day, smells purposive, preemptive and undemocratic. In taking this unprecedented action ahead of possible dissenting voices who weren’t (and still aren’t) privy to the report, Barr set the table for Trump to unleash his right wing authoritarian dogs in high and low places not only to cast him as innocent victim, but also to cement in public opinion, delegitimize the “liberal media,” throw the Democratic Party and resistance movement on the defensive, and shape the conversation for next year’s election to Trump’s advantage. We shouldn’t do anything inadvertently to assist this effort, which, if successful, would be a body blow to democratic rule as well as an independent press and media.


No apologies, no defensiveness

The investigation of Russian meddling in our election and the degree to which the Trump campaign colluded with representatives of the Russian government is a legitimate arena of struggle. To ignore such meddling and collusion, even if, in the end, neither rises to the level of criminality or decides the outcome of our elections, wouldn’t look well on the resume of a movement whose mission is to defend, expand, and deepen democracy. No need for apologies or defensiveness!

A distraction?

The suggestion that the Mueller investigation and the attention accorded it by major new outlets has distracted from other fronts of struggle against the Trump administration rests on little evidence other than the righteous assertions by some on the left. Hard facts to prove or disprove this point are harder to come by. I can only offer as evidence that a few months ago millions of voters went to the polls to register their opposition to Trump and his policies and there is little doubt that these voters had been influenced to some degree by exposes, investigating journalism, and distractions of the “fake news” media.

Can’t let that happen

A old friend of mine in Detroit who I met regularly for lunch years ago would invariably say (in Latin) to me upon our goodbye, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Seems like good advice today as Trump, Sarah Sanders and all attempt to turn the Mueller report and Barr’s quick exoneration of Trump on obstruction charges into club to “grind us down.” Can’t let that happen. Too much is at stake. Itching more than ever to elect a Democratic president and Congress next year.

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