The Politics of Guilt: or, How to Win a Culture War

Here’s me at The Catholic Herald, reflecting on last week’s Democratic sit-in for the policy people like to call “gun control”:

One side of the culture war has been successful in linking all its opinions to the most contentious and guilt-ridden periods in American history. Anyone opposing the sit-in, then, is cast in the symbolic role of Bull Connor.

One might scoff at all of this, but bringing guilt and shame by continually invoking the lowest points in a nation’s history does affect people — see “Germany” — and often makes people assent to things not on their merits but on their emotional repercussions. I’ll always defend the Enlightenment, but it cemented in many Western minds a false idea of how humans actually think and make decisions. We have been trained since school age to believe that if we use facts, logic, and reason to make a case, we can persuade others to our side; if we apply this process to governance, the thinking goes, we can preserve our rights and liberty through superior argumentation.

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