A War for the Soul of America
When Patrick Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in 1992 and proclaimed, "There is a religious war going on for the soul of our country," his audience knew what he was talking about: the culture wars, which had raged throughout the previous decade and would continue until the century' s end, pitting conservative and religious Americans against their liberal, secular fellow citizens. lt was an era marked by polarization and posturing fueled by deep-rooted anger and insecurity. Buchanan's fiery speech marked a high point in the culture wars, but as this essay argues, their roots Jay farther back, in the tumult of the 1960s - and their significance is much greater than generally assumed. Far more than a mere sideshow or shouting match, the culture wars were the very public face of America's struggle over the unprecedented social changes of the period, as the cluster of social norms that had long governed American life began to give way to a new openness to different ideas, identities, and articulations of what it meant to be an American. The hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, art, censorship, feminism, and homosexuality that dominated politics in the period were symptoms of the larger struggle, as conservative Americans slowly began to acknowledge - if initially through rejection - many fundamental transformations of American life. This essay gives an overview of these culture wars and then focuses on the specific case of the controversy over the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum' s attempt to display the Enola Gay with revisionist content.
Keywords : Culture Wars, politics, history, conservatism, liberalism, World War II, museums, popular culture
Published : 2016
Andrew Hartman, « A War for the Soul of America », Cycnos, 2016. URL : https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03152212