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Entries in Stephen Colbert (3)


Winning the Culture Wars (Part 2): Stephen Colbert Parts the Gathering Storm 


Winning the Culture Wars: How the "Gathering Storm" over Same-Sex Marriage was Defeated

Related Post: Winning the Culture Wars (Part 2) - Stephen Colbert Parts the Gathering Storm

A couple of weeks ago, British newspapers engaged in some silliness over Obama's America. The Daily Telegraph declared, "America's religious Right has conceded that the election of US President Barack Obama has sealed its defeat in the cultural war with permissiveness and secularism." The Observer announced two days later, "Barack Obama brings truce in culture war".

This false truce was exposed last week during the Tea Parties which, beneath their surface complaints over taxes and Government spending, were founded upon social, cultural, and even racial positions. The coding of "American values" signalled the confrontation of decadent "liberal" enemies.

Yet, even as the demonstrations were taking place, a significant episode was being played out on the Internet. In that battle lay not consensus but a victory for the dangerous "liberals", one that would have been hard to conceive even 20 years ago.

The story begins with this video, "A Gathering Storm", from the National Organization for Marriage:


The "clouds are dark" warning, with the prospect of gay couples invading the living room, is all too familiar to me from 1980s America and, after I left the US, in the 1990s phony crusade against "political correctness". Even last year, the passage of California's Proposition 8, declaring the only acceptable union was between a man and a woman, indicated that Obama's America would not relinquish long-held prejudices.

This time, however, the unexpected (at least to me) occurred. Within hours, there was a Web-based counter-attack. The "Gathering Storm" video was pilloried in comments (most of them calmly and civilly put) and in a series of YouTube rebuttals and parodies:


On Twitter, the political columnist Anamarie Cox and other mischievous folk began circulating the message, "Suck it @nomtweets!". The National Organization for Marriage's latest scheme, "2M4M" (Two Million For Marriage) was taken over by the "real" 2M4M (Two Men For Marriage).

By the time Stephen Colbert anointed the satirical dissection of the NOM campaign (see separate blog and video), the political signs had been posted: the doors to same-sex marriage are no longer bolted. Following the lead set by Massachusetts in 2004 and then by Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont had begun the process of legalisation, and in New York, Governor David Paterson announed that he would be introducing the measure. Even in Utah --- Utah, perhaps the most socially-conservative state in the US --- the governor said he would support same-sex unions. Prominent Republicans like John McCain's campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, are publicly asking the GOP to abandon its opposition.

None of this is being written with the complacency that the Storms  are gone forever. Cultural fears and invocations of "tradition" can always be summoned to hold the line against advances in civil rights. But, even at a time of economic crisis, there is cause for celebration of a new American politics --- in tone and technique --- that is bringing not dark clouds but a bit of tolerant sunshine.

Stephen Colbert: Why Glenn Beck Should Lead Our Revolution

You might think that Glenn Beck, shouting and crying his way to prominence on Fox "News" in the US, is a headcase. You might be laughing at his Comrade Update, which we noted last month. You might consider him crass for claims that Obama liberalism was responsible for the recent mass shooting in Alabama. You might conclude that, with his warnings of the Obama Apocalypse and call for a citizens' revolution, he is a ranting demagogue.

You are wrong. Very, very wrong. Stephen Colbert explains why: