We're currently reading Bill O'Reilly's "Culture Wars," and his work is revealing, to say the least. On the one hand, there are the "secular progressives," a group of atheistic people in the media along with the ACLU and similar such institutions funded by George Soros and Peter Lewis, with George Lakoff being the brains behind the show. On the other hand, there are the "traditionalists" like him who watch FOX News for a "fair and balanced" look at the world today.
According to Bill O'Reilly, Soros, Lewis, and Lakoff are architects of a grand conspiracy to ruin the traditional American way of life dreamed up by the Founding Fathers and passed on for the last 230+ years. They allegedly have allies in the ACLU, who relies on left-wing activist judges to bypass the will of the people. And other allies include key media figures like Rather, Brokaw, Moyers, and Cronkite, the latter who sprung the then-secret P-C agenda on this country during his time as an anchor in part by giving more critical coverage to Nixon than Johnson and covering up for Kennedy.
The book was written back in 2006, when a Democratic wave was tanking Bush's popularity and taking back control of the House and Senate. The problem is that a lot of his arguments are built on straw men and faulty assumptions that don't hold water.
We reject O'Reilly's frame that this is somehow a culture war between the "progressive secularists" and the "traditionalists." Personally, I don't care if someone lives a "traditional" way of life, marries one wife for better or worse, has two kids, works 9 hours a day, goes to church every Sunday, and pursues health and wealth. The book was written in 2006, but now that Barack Obama is President, I can safely say that nobody in my Deep Red neck of the woods has gotten a call from the White House, the FBI, or the Secret Service telling us to stop our way of life or else. I am sure everyone here feels the same way.
The problem comes when people try and force that way of life on others. Therefore, I reject the frame that O'Reilly posits. Instead, I see this as a battle between the police state mentality that pervades too many governmental, political, and ideological interests, and the 99% of us of all economic classes, races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations who simply want to live our own lives without Big Brother standing over us and telling us that our lifestyle is somehow immoral and destroying this country.
What O'Reilly misses is that there are some things that are thought of as sinful by the church, but are not appropriate for the government to regulate. Should the government regulate sexuality because the Bible proscribes adultery in both the Old Testament and the New? Should the government ban Islam because they don't accept Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior? Should the government force you to wear a recorder on your body so that they can analyze your speech and determine if you are lying or not? After all, lying is prohibited by the Bible.
O'Reilly claims to occupy the middle ground between the extremists on the right and the extremists on the left. Yet most of his criticisms in the book are directed at the left, and not the right. The latter criticisms are there, but not as prevalent as the ones at the left. While the Police State mentality that is infesting our country did not originate with George Bush, he enacted the most draconian rollback of civil liberties in our country's history following the tragic 9/11 attacks. People like Russ Feingold who stood up and said that this was wrong were too far and few in between.
One of the things he constantly decries is the work of the ACLU, which he claims makes a mockery of our political system by bypassing the will of the American people. But he can't even get his facts straight on basic Civics 101. Our country has checks and balances and three branches of government so that one group doesn't get too powerful. One of those branches is the judiciary. Furthermore, the First Amendment grants the people the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. That is why open access to the courts is always practiced. The ACLU's actions are completely in accordance with the Constitution.
Furthermore, while public opinion is important, protecting the Constitution is not a popularity contest, which the ACLU understands and O'Reilly doesn't. The Constitution was designed to protect this country against the tyranny of the majority, which is why we eventually got Brown vs. Board of Education and subsequent rulings. Even if they were not the popular thing to do, they were the right thing to do.
And while O'Reilly decries what he sees as attacks on Christianity and Christmas in favor of the Big Bad Commies, Christianity organized a socialistic system of governance in which everyone had everything in common 1800+ years before Karl Marx thought up Socialism. Your salvation was measured by how well you provided for the poor among whom you lived, not whether you called Jesus "Lord." The notion of Universal Salvation was common in the early church for the first four centuries.
In one section of his book, O'Reilly scaremongers about how society will fall apart if drugs were ever legalized. This was written in 2006. Now, in 2014, pot has been legalized in Washington and Colorado, and the sky has not fallen. In fact, crime dropped in Colorado.
Besides the straw man that we are somehow out to get the Traditional American Family, another one of O'Reilly's straw men is the notion that we somehow believe in equality of result. That is not true either. But what we do know is that no society with an ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor can sustain itself in the long run. It may be 100, 200, or 400 years from now, but such a society is doomed to fail and collapse at some point.
The police state that was sprung on us by the Bush administration and promoted by O'Reilly and friends has two parts. The first is the loss of civil liberties. But the other part is the loss of economic liberty that our forefathers organized, fought for, and died for during the turn of the 20th century. Certain governmental, political, and ideological elements would like nothing more than to force us all to work 16 hours a day with no time for family and friends because we're all drowning in thousands of dollars in debt and because we're all making substandard wages. That's the sort of thing that would make the high-priced law firms that the right says they're against happy.