|What Is Upstream From Culture?|
by Erick Erickson
If politics is downstream from culture, what is upstream from culture? A well funded PR machine designed to vilify you.
In the book After the Ball, psychologist Marshall Kirk and ad man Hunter Madsen painted a picture of what the gay rights movement should do to normalize and advance their agenda in America. The book came out in 1990. Kirk and Madsen treated their book as a manifesto and we have witnessed their vision.
The propaganda effort the authors set out included inserting gay men and women into Hollywood to start writing shows with gay positive characters, then make gay characters normal characters on shows. They would get friends in the media to positively cover the gay rights movement. Advertisers would feature gay men and women in advertisements as an ideal. Gay celebrities would be championed. Churches too would be involved, with liberal churches rejecting Christian orthodoxy championed and those that kept the faith vilified.
“Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject, and that a sizable bloc – the most modern, up-to-date citizens – accept or even practice homosexuality,” they wrote. They wanted to be portrayed as victims too. “The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable; that is, to jam with shame the self-righteous pride that would ordinarily accompany and reward their antigay belligerence, and to lay groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.”
Likewise, the very unproven idea of orientation as something you are born with, for which science still offers nothing, had to be normalized. The authors wrote, “To suggest in public that homosexuality might be chosen is to open the can of worms labeled ‘moral choices and sin’ and give the religious intransigents a stick to beat us with. Straights must be taught that it is as natural for some persons to be homosexual as it is for others to be heterosexual: wickedness and seduction have nothing to do with it.”
All of this was written in 1989 and the book published in 1990. The implementation of their manifesto has been wildly successful. When people talk about sexual orientation as something we are all born with, we are fulfilling the wish of that manifesto, not talking about anything founded in science.
I bring up this book because I keep hearing people say culture is upstream from politics. What happens in culture flows into our politics. But After the Ballshould serve as a reminder that there are things upstream from culture and often those things are well orchestrated public relations campaigns designed to reshape culture and reshape our thinking.
Using the media, activists on the left truly do aim to divide up this country. Gun owners are increasingly portrayed as a hostile, rogue fringe by the media. Christians are now intolerant bigots who must be stamped out. Large families are bad too. Their carbon footprint must be reduced. Culture is being shaped by PR and the media is so busy generating outrage for clicks and revenue it does not realize it is being played. But of course some of the media is complicit.
“At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights—long after other gay ads have become commonplace—it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents,” Kirk and Madsen wrote. “To be blunt, they must be vilified.”
The gay rights movement has been normalized through a well orchestrated PR campaign. Those of us who dissent are not only now routinely referred to as bigots, but also increasingly unwelcome on the public stage. It took time on this issue, but the political left in America has lost patience on other fronts. From transgenderism to guns to climate change, the left has moved straight to Kirk and Madsen’s final solution: the vilification and ostracization of dissent.
They have had to go there rapidly because the new fronts in the efforts to change culture are running into common sense. It is hard to convince any sane person that boys can become girls or that snow in April is caused by global warming. So you must be bullied into belief. Bullies with well funded public relations teams are upstream from culture.