Independence Day From Cultural Rot - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Independence Day From Cultural Rot
Easy Rider, 1969 (FILMS CULTES/YouTube)

There has been much ado about last week’s Fox News poll showing pride in America at an all-time low, only 39 percent, right before the Fourth of July — and astonishingly after Juneteenth. Many media brains have given their explanations for this. Here’s mine: cultural rot, spread by the Left and tolerated by the Right.

William F. Buckley Jr. famously wrote, “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!’, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” But the great man was wrong. Since 1955, the year of his quote, yelling stop has had as much effect on progressives as an angry geezer shouting, “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” to a bunch of angry young punks.

Leftists just ignored the conservative sound and fury signifying nothing to ram their Marxism down America’s throat, with the culture their juggernaut. They turned beautiful, functional cities like San Francisco and Seattle into hellscapes in the name of social justice, then persuaded enough ignorant squishes to give them the entire country.

They tore down statues of the Founding Fathers, the finest group of men in world history, reducing all their deeds to one universal historical crime — slavery — while the right merely pooh-poohed. But most insidiously, they turned the entertainment industry — the source of delightful popular art for over a hundred years — into a sewer of propagandistic crap.

This was not new. Leftwing screen indoctrination first took hold in the Sixties. There were communist filmmakers in the late Forties and early Fifties, but patriotic industry leaders like Screen Actors’ Guild President Ronald Reagan and John Wayne made short work of them. (Reagan indirectly did it again in the Eighties as President of the United States, which I’ll address.)

But something happened in the late Sixties. The then still burgeoning Marxist takeover of academia — again foolishly unchallenged by the Right — nudged American kids to the left, very much including their entertainment tastes. They dismissed formulaic studio pictures for vibrant, passionate, anti-Establishment youth fare such as The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, and Midnight Cowboy.

Esteemed novelist John Gregory Dunne (True Confessions) described this trend in his fascinating book, The Studio, chronicling his yearlong access to 20th Century Fox in 1967. Dunne documents how Fox players’ initial excitement for mega-expensive projects like Doctor Doolittle, Star!, and Caprice gradually turned to terror as each of the films bombed. (Ultimately, the studio was saved from total collapse by a less prestigious yet more sincere science-fiction fable starring veteran actor Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes.)

Television fed the anti-Establishment fervor in the Seventies. Sitcoms by leftist producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time) dominated the airwaves, mocking traditional beliefs while celebrating feminism, perhaps the most destructive philosophy to American cohesion. This of course hastened the popular acceptance of abortion, when Maude (Bea Arthur) became the first TV lead character to contentedly get one. In 1973, the Supreme Court constitutionalized the abomination.

During the same decade, hit show M*A*S*H disparaged the U.S. military, even with our soldiers in harm’s way fighting the Vietnam War. Crazed Vietnam veterans in fact became a staple of Seventies TV crime series, with long-running Hawaii Five-O a frequent depicter. M*A*S*H and Lear’s reign continued post-Vietnam through the Jimmy Carter malaise — as did big screen feminist (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, An Unmarried Woman, Julia, My Brilliant Career) and anti-military (Catch 22, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home) productions.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan stopped the liberal entertainment dominance, in part thanks to Jimmy Carter’s weakness. Reagan made Americans proud of their country again. The movies once more honored traditional values like family — especially those of John Hughes (Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, She’s Having a Baby) — and the military (Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Delta Force, Top Gun, Rambo: First Blood Part 3). So did television (Family Ties, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, The A-Team). And with the people behind Reagan, America destroyed its most durable, powerful nemesis, the Soviet Union, without firing a shot.

But progressives never sleep and never quit in their quest to diminish the country. And Reagan’s awful successor, George H.W. Bush, although a genuine World War II hero, made it easy for them. “Read my lips — no new taxes,” Bush pledged at the 1988 Republican Convention, fooling everyone into believing he would follow in Reagan’s path. He broke his only famous vow just two years later, disheartening conservatives for a long time. Any man of honor would have resigned before humiliating himself that badly, but not Bush, who plodded on to lose to Bill Clinton.

In 2000, George W. Bush barely got elected, and only because Vice President Al Gore was too damn weird. September 11th, 2001 propped Bush up as a strong leader, if only for a while. When America went to war, leftists went to work. They consolidated their control of academia and Hollywood, while conservatives did nothing. With American soldiers once more in harm’s way, they produced a slew of anti–War on Terror film bombs (In the Valley of Elah, Syriana, Lions for Lambs, Green Zone, Stop-Loss, Redacted, Munich, War Inc., Rendition, The Lucky Ones, and many more). It wasn’t guilt that stopped them. It was Clint Eastwood, who made one pro-military film, American Sniper, that grossed much more than all the others put together.

Unlike every other Republican president since Reagan, President Trump recognized the cultural attack on the country and its mostly glorious history. He proposed a National Garden of American Heroes to honor the luminaries under siege. The Left used its entire political, bureaucratic, intelligence, and media complex to defeat him. Yet not destroy him — as their fear of Trump is still palpable (see the House’s increasingly ridiculous January 6th Committee with its repulsive Republican toadies, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger). Their probably Pyrrhic victory doubtless accelerated the steep drop in national pride.

But this will be their downfall. Because conservatives have had enough of the ugliness and madness being foisted on this country. And they’re now doing a lot more than standing athwart history and yelling, “Stop!” They’re ready to fight, and make America proud again.

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