A Brief Note on Culture War Grievances

David Roberts, a sensible person on Twitter, explains the rationale behind right-wing culture war grievances:

Consider the “War on Christmas.” I view it as the paradigmatic right wing culture war grievance, not because it particularly matters or has any grand significance, but because it exposes the basic form that all these grievances take.

Asking everyone in a public role to say “Merry Christmas” is asking everyone to impose and reinforce a particular culture and a particular set of traditions, and thereby exclude others. Saying “happy holidays,” on the other hand, is a neutral, agnostic greeting — it makes room for everyone.

Conservatives specifically object to “happy holidays” because they do not *want* to make room for everyone. They want to exclude! The whole point is to prioritize and elevate a particular culture above others. They do not like or want multiculturalism or pluralism.

This, then, is the basic form of right wing grievance: if we stop imposing a particular dominant culture, and instead allow for more individual choice and variation, we are “attacking” the dominant culture. Attempts at pluralism are framed as an assault on the dominant culture….

The right wants a single narrow culture…. The left wants [or accepts] variation and pluralism.

Reactionary psychology is quite literally unable to process a genuine devotion to pluralism, so it can only interpret these reforms as attacks on its specific culture by some other specific culture (“Marxism” or whatever). They are dominant … or else persecuted. No other option.

Which explains why they said letting different kinds of people get married was an attack on marriage. Someone else suggested that another element of reactionary thinking is zero sum: if something is good for other people, it must be bad for them.

Finally, a personal note on variation and pluralism. If you run a website that requires a working cellphone to get past security, give your users another way to do it, e.g. email. Let a hundred flowers blossom.