Recently, I participated in judging a list of “hot conservatives.” I was somewhat surprised when some really patriotic and well-meaning folks urged me not to use the word “hot.” They claimed the word had come to mean something vile, despite the fact that we had gone to great measures to define our version of the word as a person of character, integrity, courage of conviction and passion.
My reply? I am not willing to surrender any more ground in the culture war. The left will continue to take words and symbols and twist them for their own use if we continue to hand them over so easily.
Not only should we defend our culture, we should go on the offensive. We could defend the old meaning of the word “hot” as the temperature at which something can burn. We could cower, and let the statists and tramps define the word for us. We could never use the word “hot” again because the culturally depraved want our word that used to speak of sunshine and summertime to be skewed to mean something perverse and lewd. Or we could take it for our own use as conservatives: someone who is attractive because of character, integrity, courage of conviction and passion. We could reclaim our words and turn it on them. That’s hot!
Every so often, I am told by a well-intentioned listener that I shouldn’t play pop music on my radio show. They’re afraid I am becoming part of the “evil” culture. To have anything in common with someone in this generation, I am told, is becoming like them. So, I am urged to separate myself from anything in pop culture.
Andrew Breitbart taught us that culture is upstream of politics. If you want to win elections, you must first win the culture. If conservatives separate from the culture, not only will we see the demise of our ideals, but the demise of our republic.
Imagine if hearing a Lady Gaga song made people think of something conservative. Does that sound crazy? Stand by.
When Rush Limbaugh tells the story of choosing his theme song back in the ’80s, he recalls that his listeners were outraged that he chose a song by the Pretenders for his intro. He took a lot of heat for using a liberal song by a liberal singer and was accused of being anti-American, a closet liberal and more. Conservatives urged him to use a song that was patriotic, classical or at least Americana. Even the lead singer, who is a leftist, tried to keep him from using it, but was unsuccessful.
So why not claim that Lady Gaga song, instead of whining that she sang it? Her rage would probably equal that of the Pretenders, whose song is no longer recognized as anything other than “The Rush Limbaugh” song, much to their horror. They even sued to try to stop him from using the song and lost. Now, few people remember the group and even fewer remember the name of the original song, but when they hear that riff, no matter where they hear it, they think of Rush Limbaugh. It has become the Rush Limbaugh song.
What else can we claim as our own, conservatives?
I was asking myself that exact question when the opportunity came to me to participate in a reality show. After much prayer and counsel, I said yes. I wanted to reach into the homes of those who have never graced the pages of WND, will never hear any of us comment on Fox News and will never buy our books. I wanted to reach the unreached. Many more of them watch reality TV than listen to conservative talkers and read conservative reason. They vote, but they don’t know us. They know Lady Gaga, but they aren’t going to listen to Andrea Bocelli. They watch the Kardashians, but they don’t watch Cavuto. They read People magazine, but they don’t read WND. Go figure.
The same ones who criticized the music on my radio show questioned my decision to do the reality show. Some called me a hero; others called me an idiot. The reality is, I was neither for doing the show. Real heroes are those who march into battle. I have never done that. Real idiots are those cold, timid souls who never even get in the game.
I knew what I was getting myself into when I did the show, just as I knew what I was doing when I judged the “Hotlist.”
I wasn’t doing the show to become part of the reality-show pop culture. I did it to communicate with the corners of culture conservatives can’t ever reach. The responses I still receive, to this day, prove to me that there is an untapped portion of our culture dying, literally dying, to hear from us. And what are we really doing about it? We accomplish far less as we never venture outside our own echo chamber.
The statists are pros at the culture war. They came into our best-hidden inner parts long ago – conservative organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, our schools and even our churches. They dominate elements of each of these now. And where are our victories on their turf, conservatives?
Battles are about taking ground; wars are about advancing on the enemy.
What do you think of when you see a rainbow sticker on the back of a car? The left has taken many words and symbols and made them its own. Leftists have taken the rainbow symbol, which is a beautiful sign from the Bible, and made it the symbol of “gay” pride. They have taken the word “gay” and completely changed its meaning and are currently working to change the definition of the word “marriage.”
Charity used to mean voluntary giving to those in real need. The statists have changed the meaning of charity to be redistribution of wealth – what the government takes from some and gives to others. Equality used to refer to the opportunity that all Americans had to succeed. Now it is the outcome that must be equal in all cases. Even the words “hope” and “change” used to be about evangelism and hope in God. Now they symbolize the advancement of the statist agenda on the greatest, free nation of all time.
How long will we stand by and let them eliminate our lexicon while we judge one another instead of advancing on the enemy stealing our freedom?
We are the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, right? We are only free because we are brave. The next move needs to be brave, to say the least.
We can hide in our corners and echo in our chambers where it is safe and warm, or we can boldly go into the belly of the beast where we might catch criticism from our own army.
Lest you think this tactic won’t get the attention of the left, you need only read the liberal media this week in reaction to our new “Hotlist” of Conservative Supermen. (Warning: The following two links contain obscene and sexually explicit language that may offend some readers.) Huffington Post and Wonkette, popular media sites of the left definitely had a bone to pick with our use of the word “hot” to describe people they don’t find physically appealing. They were outraged that conservative women would take “their” word and twist it to describe the ideals of conservatism. Not surprisingly, more people visited PolitichicksTV than ever before. It works.
We call ourselves “culture warriors.” Where are we really fighting if we are only reading our own columns and listening to our own conservative talk jocks? What are we really winning if we never even tread on their turf? How will we win if we don’t even play?
Don’t misunderstand me to say that our conversations in conservative churches, media and news are not critical to the fight – they are imperative. These outlets provide our internal conversation, hone our tactics and fortify those of us already awake. But our work needs to be inside our circles and beyond them as well.
What can we do next to invade the culture? Can we make it so rap reminds people of the Constitution? Can we invade reality TV so that Judeo-Christian thought is cool again? Can we make the music that the next generation is screaming for?
Before you criticize the next culture warrior, remember the words of Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Now that’s hot!