It's only a culture war when the right does it

If the trans issue is “an American moment in an Australian campaign,” as the Times labels it, then it’s curious how often culture wars keep getting traced back to our shores. The trucker blockade in Canada was an “American-style protest.” The 2017 French election starring Marine Le Pen was an “American-style election.” Right-wing firebrands from Jair Bolsonaro to Pierre Poilievre are constantly compared to Donald Trump.

Can it be that smash-mouth populists wielding cultural anxieties existed long before Trump crash-landed in his golden escalator? Can it even be that some foreigners care as much about culture as we do and would like to have their democratic say? Run with this stuff long enough and it starts to sound like an American chauvinism all its own. We are not the only country that has ever arched an eyebrow at a trans flag.

Also problematic, to borrow a word, is that organs like the Times only ever use the term “culture war” to characterize one side. Distributing puberty blockers is never a culture war. Neither is the campaign to abolish gender. Neither was the attack on Dave Chappelle by a pro-trans assailant nor the teaching of racialist gibberish in schools nor pro-choicers bragging about their abortions. It’s only when someone objects to any of this that suddenly the smell of cordite wafts through the air. The left-wing march through our institutions is simply the natural course of things; resisting it even mildly, now that’s a casus belli.