Like a dog with a bone, many Republicans just won’t let go of their battles over culture in America, from LGBT rights to guns to infusing government with their religion — often referred to by the phrase “God, Guns and Gays” — to the media we consume. Led by Donald Trump himself, these conservatives seem to be spending an awful lot of time fretting over Super Bowl commercials and other corporate policies. The results vary from ill-fated boycotts to a further tearing of the fabric of America.
The latest and most high-profile examples of the Republican Culture War occurred during the Super Bowl on Sunday. While Super Bowl commercials always get top billing, this year’s ads contained some immigration-related messages that some perceived as attacks against Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, which is currently suspended by several federal courts as unconstitutional. One of the most notable was the 84 Lumber ad featuring a Latino mother and daughter making their way to America, encountering a giant wall, and then finding a large wooden gate built into the wall and open for their entry. Fox Broadcasting Company (owned by Rupert Murdoch along with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal), which aired the Super Bowl, would not air the full ad containing the “wall” scenes, calling into question why they appeared to be taking sides with Trump. Likewise, beer giant Anheuser-Busch aired an ad for its Budweiser brand featuring a short biography of co-founder Adolphus Busch that recounted the discrimination he faced in America as an immigrant from Germany. As a result, some conservatives called for boycotts of 84 Lumber and Budweiser. This is in addition to their recent call to boycott Starbucks again (they previously did so over a Christmas cup), as well as past boycott efforts against Disney and other companies for their inclusive policies. The late right wing television evangelist Jerry Falwell even once said that one of the Teletubbies — Tinky Winky — was gay, and that the program therefore was not a good role model for children.
This Culture War comes from the top, as Donald Trump hired Stephen Bannon, from the ultimate conservative Culture War site Breitbart News, as White House Senior Counsel. Some folks say that Bannon, an anti-Semitic conspiracy nut, is the de facto president. Trump (or more accurately Bannon) also recently hired two right-wing writers from Breitbart. One example of the Trump/Bannon Culture War: Trump was reportedly ready to sign an executive order (presumably by Bannon) curtailing LGBT rights in the workplace, until his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner (who, being Jewish, may know something about people being singled out for discriminatory treatment) talked him out of it. Still, the Republican majority House of Representatives is set to take up one or more such bills once again.
Trump also further divides America by criticizing any news outlet that publishes or airs anything unflattering about him as “fake news.” The list of such outlets is growing to comical proportions, and at some point could include every media outlet not owned by Rupert Murdoch. Indeed, Trump sat for an interview with GOP-friendly Bill O’Reilly on Fox News just before the Super Bowl, and is running back to O’Reilly for another interview tonight. This morning, Trump even tweeted that:
Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
However, Trump is becoming extremely unpopular, and, on the issue of his Muslim Ban, Trump has also lost the support of nearly 100 tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, who filed a legal brief stating that Trump’s Muslim Ban hurts their ability to recruit, hire and retain talented employees. Likewise, attorneys representing the states of Washington and Minnesota also filed court briefs indicating that reinstating the Muslim Ban would “unleash chaos again,” including “separating families” and “stranding our university students.” Conservatives who follow Trump’s lead and blindly fight the Culture War against a growing array of individuals, companies and institutions may soon be left hating everyone and boycotting everything, except perhaps Chik-Fil-A and Kool-Aid.
Photo by Mike Mozart, used under Creative Commons license. https://is.gd/LtRGU1