Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Myth of the Winnable Culture War

By Matt Taibbi

Since the people we disagree with aren’t going anywhere, we might as well talk to each other.

In response to the predictably voluminous criticisms of yesterday’s article, “Spying and Smearing is ‘Un-American,’ not Tucker Carlson”:

I disagree with Tucker Carlson on a variety of issues. I’m not saying this to “distance myself,” but rather to make a point that imagine he’d agree with, also the point of the article: there’s a difference between disagreeing, and what we’ve begun to do in media since Trump’s arrival.

Take one of Carlson’s most-criticized recent statements:

Twitter avatar for @TuckerCarlsonTucker Carlson @TuckerCarlson

#Tucker: Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here? @FoxNews

I disagree with the assumption that people who come to America from countries more dysfunctional than ours will bring the problems of their home countries with them. It’s an oft-cited statistic, but Nigerian immigrants are the most educated people in America, with 61% holding at least a Bachelor’s degree, nearly twice the rate of both native-born Americans and immigrants overall. There are similar numbers involving immigrants from South Asia, Korea, China, and other parts of the world.

Were this a debate with Carlson, I’d argue that conservatives are the ones who should be howling for more immigration, as three out of four naturalized immigrants say they are “very proud” of being Americans. This is a much higher number than native-born Americans, 69% of whom say they are “ashamed” of some parts of our culture (just 39% of immigrants agree). Immigrants work at a higher rate than native-born Americans, their children are educated at higher rates, and maybe the most patriotic.

He’d counter, and I can imagine what some of those arguments would be. But he’d be happy to have the debate. He might change my mind about some things, perhaps I’d change his about others. The other day, he described looking on Twitter after the Cuba situation blew up. “Three separate prominent conservative figures were against American intervention,” he said. “That’s change.”

The perception that conservatives don’t change their minds is as stupid as my belief that liberals would never cozy up to the CIA and NSA turned out to be. Conservative attitudes toward war, gay rights, surveillance and a host of other issues have shifted radically in recent years. Also, people don’t act and think solely as groups, as there’s enormous variance within every demographic. Pretending otherwise is a pernicious media myth. But I’m getting off track.

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