In Praise of Culture Warriors

Joel Ryan

I've written many times that what the media routinely calls "culture wars" are inevitably just normal people's reactions to the latest cultural putsch being shoved on us by the left. "Cultural warriors" is the name given to anyone to the right of Mao who garners attention for refusing to go along with the left's program.


Today, The Cass Review was released in the UK and the Labour Party was quick to say it agreed with all of its recommendations. Yvette Cooper, who holds the title of shadow home secretary, told an interviewed at Sky News she found the report "very troubling." That came as a shock to Telegraph columnist Madeline Grant.

Ms Cooper, blinking as if she was seeing daylight for the first time (perhaps the effect of all those years with her head in the sand) replied that the report’s conclusions were “very troubling”. This fire is very troubling, said the man with a box of matches and a jug of kerosene.

She could have said “we were wrong about this, I’m sorry we spent several years monstering everyone who raised the alarm – especially within our own party”. But she didn’t. “Labour accepts all of the recommendations” she nodded sagely. Black was now actually black after all, and all those years that we said it was white are just water under the bridge.

...What was really important about the report, said Ms Cooper, was “not having all this get caught up in culture wars”.

Ah yes, culture wars. Those low-status squabbles which only the Right ever indulges in and which only ever go one way. For example, “don’t mutilate children!” = culture war. “Let’s mutilate children!” = not a culture war.

As Grant points out, if it weren't for the "culture wars" (again, meaning resistance to whatever the left is pushing) there would never have been a Cass Review and the Labour Party would not now be saying it agreed with all of these conclusions. It's only because people pushed back (the culture warriors as the media frames it) that we've gotten to this point. And for that reason, the culture warriors deserve some credit and some praise.


Social contagion has led to vast numbers of young people now questioning their gender and sexuality compared to previous generations; it is also visible in the spike of alleged genders now in existence (we went from two, to three, to dozens in the blink of an eye). 

Gender ideologues regularly resort to emotional blackmail (“would you rather have a dead son or a trans daughter”) or to outright lies, by framing the debate as a confected “culture war”, rather than a public policy decision affecting thousands of people, with irreversible consequences. And here’s a chastening thought; but for the efforts of brave “detransitioners” and gender-critical feminists like Maya Forstater, Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel and J K Rowling, Britain might now be even further down the rabbit hole.

That's a UK-centric list but you could add to it Riley Gaines and the other women athletes who have been speaking out about the need to preserve women's sports. They recently sued the NCAA over its stance allowing trans women to compete against women. That's another area where pushback against the left's ideologues seems to be making some real progress.

In any case, these are people who don't get enough respect because they are often targeted by ideologues for abuse and treated as troublemakers who deserve it by a left-leaning media that frames the response as the problem. JK Rowling comes to mind and today she posted a series of tweets about the Cass Review. She starts by noting that the ideologues on the left are still pushing. Dr. Cass will now be ritually denounced as an enemy and much worse.


That's always how it works. Anyone who refuses to go along gets labeled "far-right."

Meanwhile, the left's bandwagon full of social media goons is headed for a cliff, even if they refuse to see it. (Obviously the Labour Party sees it which is why they've hopped off the bandwagon so abruptly.)


Will this be a turning point? It will in the UK where the use of puberty blockers has already been put on hold. So far, the response here in the US has been pretty muted. The NY Times ran a decent story yesterday nothing that the UK has now fallen in line with Scandinavian countries who have pulled back on gender-affirming care, but the Washington Post just ran an AP story about it. 

I suspect the relative silence is largely because the activists here in the US haven't worked out what to say yet. Dr. Cass doesn't seem like an easy person to dismiss. Once the activists figure out some fresh talking points, I'm sure we'll see more (negative) coverage in the US media. 

In the meantime, three cheers for the culture warriors who've brought us this far. If you're curious, here's the interview with shadow secretary Yvette Cooper from the Labour Party.

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David Strom 3:00 PM | May 20, 2024