I spent the entire Bush years pissed off. Too many forces were at work seeking to deprive me, and the people I love, of basic civil rights. I read Frank Rich this morning, a columnist for whom I have enormous respect, and I respectfully disagree with him.
Rich believes the "culture" wars are over. Funny how the culture wars look a lot like issues of the body, of feminism, of civil rights extended to those who are not the white, heterosexual norm upon which the Constitution was originally based.
I almost felt dismissed by Rich this morning. He inspired me so often during the Bush years, and today, I wanted to take heart from his assertion that now that the economy is so bad, nary a peep will be heard from those who poured so much energy into denying gays their rights, who passed laws to make it damn near impossible to get an abortion, who opposed embryonic stem-cell research because they claimed it would lead to a harvesting of embryos. Gosh. If I could live in that world, where it's all over and my side won, I'd be happy.
But he bases his assertions on the fact that President Obama has made several executive pronouncements that have overturned Bush 43's hamhanded attempts to control the bodies of those who live in the United States, and that no one has cried foul. Actually, they have: in angry buzzes all across the internet.
And, if Rich is right, and the "culture wars" are over, why am I still angry, in fact, why do I have agita that these issues have not been settled?
Perhaps I have a problem with the term "culture wars." I suppose one person's culture kerfuffle is another person's life-or-death matter.
If I am a lesbian whose partner is ill and I cannot get her health benefits because the company I work for does not consider same-sex relationships to be marriages, how does that become "culture" rather than crucial?
If I am a 15-year old who finds myself pregnant in South Dakota, and the closest place I can get an abortion is hundreds of miles away, and every nearby state has a parental notification law, and my mother will beat me and throw me into the street if she finds out I'm pregnant, is this a culture war, or is my life at stake?
If I have Parkinson's, and I've watched my motor skills deteriorate over the past eight years because my doctors were hamstrung in their abilities to look for a cure, and now I'll probably die before the new embryonic stem-cell lines can start looking for an improvement for me, am I part of a culture war? Or was this life or death for me?
If I'm a gay teenager in Wyoming who is beaten within an inch of my life, but I live in a state that doesn't recognize hate crimes, and so this is treated like a Saturday night bar fight and the other guy gets a slap on the wrist, is that a culture war? Or is it life and death?
Even as Rich proclaims that on a national level, we're all done with this, I can news google search issues like abortion or gay rights or whatever else you want to relegate to the culture war category, and I see its effects on real people.
If we are really to interrogate the term "culture war," then can't we see the current economic crisis as a culture war writ large? We had people among us who believed that they were entitled to fuck with our money, gamble our economic futures, take our nation into the shoals of certain shipwreck because they believed themselves to be (as the AIG asshat who wants to pay bonuses keeps insisting they are) the best and the brightest? In other words, perhaps the culture wars are at the heart of the economic crisis, as the plutocrats in this country decided that the rest of us were culturally inferior, didn't matter, and they could do whatever they decided was right for the rest of us?
Isn't that what the culture wars were about? Control?
to be continued....