Q: What Forces Are Driving the Culture Wars?

PositionONE QUESTION

ANDREW HARTMAN

Historian and author of A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars

In U.S. history, the culture wars have been a struggle to define what it means to be American against a backdrop of radical shifts in the way we think of identity, citizenship, human nature, and, more broadly, the "good life."

The phrase "culture wars" became widespread in the late 1980s, but it seemed more like a comment on the legacy of the 1960s. The culture wars had transformed into a fight between those who aligned with the various liberation movements of that decade and those who rejected them for earlier American norms regarding race, gender, sexuality, and religion.

Our current culture wars exist in the shadow of these two interrelated historical forces, but they are heightened by two more recent developments: extreme economic inequality and an anti-democratic Constitutional system that results in policies like the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

KEISHA N. BLAIN

Historian and author of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

Racism and white supremacy are arguably the most significant forces driving the culture wars. The 2008 election of President Barack Obama ignited a new wave of white backlash. Since then, we have witnessed the rise of the Tea Party and the election of President Donald Trump--both of which spread white supremacist ideas and racial animus.

More recently, white supremacist ideas such as the "great replacement" conspiracy theory have entered the political mainstream. And the results have been deadly--as witnessed by the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that targeted Black people.

White supremacist ideology also motivates the contemporary attacks on critical race theory (CRT), which have provided cover...

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