I hope you’re all having a good week. As usual, I have some short culture posts on The Bridgehead, which you can read here. My latest podcast interview is with Katy Faust, author of the must-read Them Before Us: Why We Need A Global Children’s Movement, on combatting the radioactive fallout of the sexual revolution and why children are the primary victims. I’ve also got a short piece on Italy’s new pro-life, pro-family prime minister (and why the EU hates her.)
My latest book, Prairie Lion: The Life and Times of Ted Byfield, can be purchased here. A couple of overseas reports will be running in various publications, and I’ll send those out next week. Here’s this week’s essay—which first ran in The European Conservative, which you can read here. Thanks once again for reading, and for the comments. Much appreciated!
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Russia, Ukraine, and the fogs of culture war
While in Ukraine on a reporting trip with a fellow editor recently, I posted photos of some bombed buildings and burned-out Russian tanks to social media. Most people responded the way one usually does to evidence of tragedy. But a not insignificant percentage of right-leaning users had a knee-jerk reaction of suspicion. Don’t buy into propaganda, I was told by several. I’ve noticed this attitude proliferating almost since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Many conservatives are insisting, against all evidence, that what is unfolding on the ground in Ukraine somehow isn’t happening; that photographs and videos are all fakes; that all reporting is merely propaganda. My own interlocutors fell silent when I told them that I had taken the pictures myself.
In the past, horrifying imagery has transformed public opinion and produced empathy for targets of military aggression. But we are in the digital age, and the Russia-Ukraine war has been the first major conflict to unfold on social media, with a daily, nonstop firehose of information flooding our feeds. The result has been that many people have decided that it is too difficult to figure out what is actually going on, settled on instinctive scepticism, or tuned everything out altogether. After a few weeks of shock and concern about the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, folks have settled back into their respective culture war trenches and resumed fire. The Russia-Ukraine war, unfortunately, has simply become another issue that many seem to be determined to see through the lens of their pre-existing ideological arguments.