Dear Mr. Hartman,
After reading “A History of The Culture Wars: A War For The Soul Of America”, in order to improve the understanding of culture wars, Robin D. G. Kelley’s “Yo’ Mama’s Disfunktional!: Fighting the Culture War in Urban America” proved essential to understanding this topic. Throughout the book, Kelley provides insight on the relationship between the multicolored working class and its contribution to unfair social policies and misguided activism. Kelley explores the distortions in American society’s perception of minor groups, including the colored, non-heterosexual, and non-male persons.
In one case, this discrimination deteriorated disciplinary structures such as schools, “federal and state job programs”, and recreational facilities. And without the structure, “over one-third of black families earned incomes below the poverty line (46). This eventually led to “massive joblessness [which] contributed to the expansion of the underground economy”, and “when the crack economy made its presence felt in poor black communities”, “it meant greater police repression” though “for many black youngsters it was the most viable economic option” (47).
It is important to note, through this event, that “the difference between then and now is not the levels of violence or crime”, “it is a combination of the growing importance of street gangs in the urban political economy and the dramatic improvement in technology” (47). This enables them to “become businesses, distributors of illegal and legal goods and services” and “enable them to connect up with international cartels, expand their ventures, or maintain contact with one another” (48).
Which leads readers to understand that culture wars can be developed through warped perceptions of a minority group, which lead to harmful policies that further deteriorates ways of life for the group. Through this event, though policies may have changed overtime, it reveals the devastating effects of culture wars as it highlights the fact that harmful effects from policies. Street gangs and the underground market have not been dissipated and continue to thrive today. With their increasing power, it is important to understand that no changes have been made, and culture wars will continue to exist with current events such as this.
Your book “A History of The Culture Wars: A War for The Soul of America” presents an interesting topic that most readers will find easy to agree with, which is the revolutionary ideologies that lead to the divide in America. You state that “the sixties gave birth to a new America, a nation more open to new peoples, new ideas, new norms, and new, if conflicting, articulations of America itself” which led to a split “over how to think about this new America”.
Specifically, topics such as homosexuality, abortion, feminism, black power ultimately lead to movements that clashed against normative American values. Traditional views, which upheld Christianity, the family and the country itself, focused more on self-advancement and held restrictive views over the upcoming movements. With the main goal of these movements as seizing power from white, heterosexual, men and placing it in the hands of minorities including non-white persons, women, African Americans, as well as the LGBTQ family, this emerging party inevitably threatened the existing traditionalists.
I, personally, find it interesting that the “New America”, with its new culture and beliefs, had the strength to challenge traditionalists, primarily consisting of conservative evangelicals, on their strong opinions and policies against abortions, divorce, pre-marital sex, and gay rights. In a society that was previously dominated by a strong, stable, and long-lasting party, a smaller and controversial party that appears with challenging views often face backlash, discrimination, and trouble. I respect the extent these movements were willing to go, of putting themselves in harm in order to bring justice to their beliefs.
Though the focus on the book was to detail the history of culture wars as well as highlight the transformations of American life, there is a slight bias in your writing against the conservative Americans. Though you are often described as an objective and unbiased writer, the language depicts a support for the New Left side in divided America, whilst less support and generalization of conservatives were portrayed. Often, different perspectives are left out of your book when analyzing a topic as well. It is obvious that if, for example, a religious, Christian, reader was to analyze the book, it’s possible they could feel attacked over their own beliefs. It is understandable that this book does intend to keep an impartial and informational take.
However, because it is an analyzation of history of culture wars, your personal idea unconsciously weaves itself through sentences. Thus, with the hidden bias, more conservative-minded individuals, whom still exist in society today, will detect the bias, and thus feel unconvinced, and criticized by your presentation. This is harmful to readers as your writing depicts issues or beliefs that, perhaps, the left-wing support, but other points of view are disregarded or displayed in a harsh manner. This writing disregards the beliefs conservatives are brought up on, or have chose to follow, which would not make the biased writer any better than the conservatives that discriminate against the policies we believe in.
If a second book were to be written, I personally do enjoy learning about the history of the American culture wars, as it aids readers in understanding the root of many ongoing culture wars today. However, with your thorough analyzation and informational book already published, I feel it would be interesting to review your take on America’s current culture war. Though you conclude that the culture wars have ended, I have to respectfully disagree, and perhaps the book could be based on your original argument over the waning culture war, or you could explore new and ongoing culture wars.
In this book, you provided a thought-provoking take on culture and class, which you could continue explore and expand on, as the ideas of status or capitalism proves to be increasingly more important than culture in today’s society. Previously battled issues in the context of culture now compete in the market. Yes, conservative Americans have begun to acknowledge transformation in America, and yes, there is a significant decrease in discrimination against previously discriminated minorities. However, there is a new form of competition, evolving from the roots of culture wars, that have begun to increase in attention today. Feminism, you argued, has won some battles, as the traditional views of a stay-at-home mother have dissipated.
Though there was a significant increase of women in the work force, which could have previously been recognized as a “win”, not enough significant change is implemented as women continue to struggle in the labor market against men. There is obvious bias against women, and inequal treatment and pay as well. Current debates on gun control, immigration, climate change and the environment, as well as public education are all on going wars that need to be brought to attention. With America in constant turmoil, I feel it is nearly impossible for the culture wars to come to a stop. With a second book on an analyzation of current wars, you have the ability to educate as well as convince a wide range of unknowing or unsure audience on urgent issues that need to be brought to light.