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Jewish World Review March 1, 1999 /12 Adar, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Losing the cultural wars

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SENATE'S ACQUITTAL of Bill Clinton, some conservatives are in a state of shock. This is not just because of what he got away with, but because it was the American public's support that enabled Clinton to get away with things that would once have destroyed anyone's political career.

Conservative activist Paul Weyrich -- author of the term "the Moral Majority" -- now says "I no longer believe that there is a moral majority." That is because "I do not believe that a majority of Americans actually shares our values."

Many other signs of cultural degeneration cause some of us to wonder if we are still living in America. Increasingly, those who believe in traditional values have times when they feel like aliens in the land of their birth.

Some are saying that we have lost the culture wars -- that what used to be called "the counter-culture" is now the dominant influence in American society. Sexual amorality is only part of it. The non-judgmental approach and other leftist fads have poisoned our schools, our criminal justice system and other basic social institutions.

Certainly we have lost some big cultural battles. But you can lose a lot of big battles disastrously and still end up winning the war, as the history of the Civil War or World War II shows.

That doesn't mean that we should be complacent about the current state of American society. It was precisely the well-justified alarm about losing big battles that got people focussed on turning things around and winning the wars.

Many of the tactics and strategies of those who have been trying to defend traditional values have been virtually guaranteed to lose battles. If they persist unchanged, the war will indeed be lost. But we are not there yet.

Many cultural conservatives analogize the abortion issue to the moral struggle against slavery. The analogy is apt, especially since it was religious conservatives in 18th century England who launched the crusade against slavery that ultimately destroyed this inhuman institution around the world.

What is sad is how many religious conservatives today ignore the political strategy that brought down slavery. Worse, today's cultural conservatives are following the opposite strategy and are losing as a result.

While the 18th century British evangelical leaders were morally opposed to slavery, they did not make their first political objective the immediate abolition of this whole entrenched system that had existed for thousands of years in all kinds of societies around the world. That was what they wanted, but they knew that they were not about to get it.

It was a long and bitter uphill fight just to get the trading of slaves stopped within the British Empire. It took 20 years of parliamentary struggle to achieve that. But, although this still left existing slaves in bondage to their owners, it was the first crucial step toward a massive destruction of slavery around the world in the 19th century.

The anti-abortionists are following the opposite strategy. Their strategy is to say that, if you are not with us all the way right now, you are against us. If the cultural conservatives would recruit all the allies they could get for a preliminary strike at partial birth abortions, for example, they would undoubtedly find many moderates, and even a few liberals, who would oppose this barbaric procedure if they knew what it really was.

Instead of recruiting new allies, too many cultural conservatives are alienating the allies they already have by a rule-or-ruin strategy within the Republican Party. That is a way to show your political muscle, but it is not a way to achieve your goals. It may turn out to be a way to lose the whole culture war.

The military genius of General Douglas MacArthur was shown not only by his great victories, but also by the very low casualty rates among his troops. He did not send his men into battle against every Japanese-held island in the Pacific. He by-passed many of those islands on his way to key strategic objectives that would win the war in the shortest time with the fewest Americans getting killed.

By contrast, cultural conservatives are attacking politically on all fronts simultaneously. They forget what MacArthur remembered --- that his resources were not unlimited and that they could not be dissipated on every possible objective.

02/22/99: "Saving" social security
02/18/99: Too many Ph.Ds?
02/8/99: A national disaster
02/8/99: Economic fallacies in the media: Part II
02/5/99: Why economists visit dentists so often
02/2/99: Warning: Good news
01/29/99: What is at stake?
01/26/99:Moral bankruptcy in the schools
01/22/99: Who is going to convict Santa Claus?
01/19/99: Seeing through the spin
01/13/99: A trial is a trial is a trial
01/11/99:Trials and tribulations
01/08/99: Rays of hope
01/04/99: Random thoughts
12/31/98: The President versus the presidency
12/29/98: The time is now!
12/23/98: World-class hypocrisy
12/21/98: The spreading corruption
12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.