South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias
Viva la South Park revolucion!
By Bernard Chapin
The idea that one possesses social views that diverge from the average conservative has caused many of us on the right to use "libertarian" as a means of self-description. Yet, there may be a better term for those devoted to the free market, the nation's defense, and who consider pornography…slightly less than offensive. Andrew Sullivan was the first to describe such a subclass with words, "South Park Republicans." The notion of cross-cultural rightists has since been expounded upon by numerous pundits. Brian Anderson first addressed the subject in 2003 through an essay in City Journal, a magazine he edits, called "We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore." Mr. Anderson now celebrates this ultramodern breed of anti-perfectionists in his South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.
The story of liberal bias, and its ensuing discussion of NPR, ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post etcetera, is already disgustingly well known. It's an old tale wherein the blue staters who control the media use their perches atop the transmittal towers to depict the scarlet parts of America as being filled with knuckle-dragging chuckleheads. Mr. Anderson's elucidation of the elitism and utopianism that embodies the members of the mainstream media, while perhaps old hat, is admirable and efficient. His examination of the rise of Rush Limbaugh, talk radio, Foxnews, and of the conservative publishing houses informs the reader that we are living in novel times. Even if it is a thoroughly discussed subject, his treatment of press slant is fresh and valuable.
However, what is so provocative about the work is the notion of "South Park Conservative." What one immediately must ask is whether or not such people even exist. The reviewer can answer the question affirmatively because he has had the pleasure to meet many of them. It is undeniable that political correctness and the smugness of liberals has generated a hybrid breed of conservative; one who possesses earthy cultural trappings but can no longer tolerate the self-righteousness and mock seriousness inherent to the emotion fueled left. If the existence of the South Parker surprises traditional conservatives, imagine how unnerving it must be for your average liberal to discover that the guy who sat next to him during Phish's last concert had the Opinion Journal delivered to his Inbox every morning.
Like the brilliant cartoon itself, the book offers both reality and joy. An early review mentioned how funny these pages are, and the observation is certainly correct. Many episodes from the wildly creative and irreverent South Park are referenced and quoted. Dennis Miller's comedy, along with the reasons for his departure from the left, are discussed in detail. His metaphors ["stop me before I subreference again"] are precious, and the same can be said of the way in which he inflames the sensitivity police. Anderson 's discussion of lesser known comics like Pete Correale, Julia Gorin, and Nick Di Paolo are inspiring as a conservative counter-presence in American entertainment is greatly needed even if it only slightly mitigates the damage the left has done via its years of transcendence. Colin Quinn's Tough Crowd is a bleeped out television version of Arts & Letters when compared to the PC pap offered to viewers each night by the networks.
One of the vilest villains in Anderson 's book is not actually a program or a person, but a phrase: "creating a hostile environment." This gibberish has been used for all kinds of nefarious purposes by the cultural inquisitors. Tom Daschle slithered it in his attempt to silence Rush Limbaugh, hostile environment is readily invoked by those who wish to cancel speeches by conservatives on campus, and, in everyday interactions, it forms a preventative gas that derails one's ability to repeat politically incorrect jokes. Nowhere is this more memorable than when Anderson recounts the hell that came from a planned conference scheduled to debate whether or not homosexual desires are innate.
The strongest part of the book is the chapter "Illiberal Liberalism" where the notion of "liberating tolerance" is addressed and refuted. For the uninitiated, this is a fraudulent byproduct of the 1960s that was originally fabricated by Herbert Marcuse for use in making conservative points of view outside the pale of civilized discourse. The author quite appropriately blames it for much of the incivility infecting our contemporary political discussions. The way that this is practiced is through leftists appealing to tolerance after people disagree with them while simultaneously condemning whatever is mouthed by the right as racist, homophobic, sexist, elitist, and/or mean-spirited. The attacks on those diverging from politically correct dogma are severe and integral to the "toleration" and "diversity" endemic to anti-liberals. The famous quote by Nat Henthoff, "free speech for me–but not for thee," is cited and resonates loudly. This double-standard and lust for censorship is perhaps what is most repulsive about the American left.
What may astonish baby boomer and Generation X conservatives, however, is the panic attacks that the monolithic campus left has suffered due to the recent emergence of Republican student organizations. In the chapter, "Campus Conservatives Rising," Anderson explores the arrogance of the moveon.org professors. Anyone who has ever read The Shadow University will be well-familiar with the totalitarian efforts of our pseudo-scholars to squelch difference if they happen to encounter it on the way to their teach-ins. Imagine what hard working, tuition paying, fortune squandering, parents think when they see that their freshman daughter's syllabus for English contains, as its goal, to explore the hidden "homosexuality, pederasty, and incest" facets of the great works of western civilization.
The recent attempt to pass an Academic Bill of Rights has proved that the champagne socialists possess bubbly but no clothes. Anderson recounts a legislative hearing concerning the bill's passage, when a philosophy department chair walked up to a student and jammed him in the chest saying, "I will sue your f--king a-- if this bill passes." Yet, amid such bleakness, South Park Conservatives finds hope as the author documents the exponential growth of the right in the academy– even within the leftist redoubts of the Ivy League.
I can recommend this book without serious reservation, but I should mention that not everyone will agree with its conclusions. Anderson's belief that conservatives have stopped losing the culture war is certainly contestable. Ask any kid in the United States between 10 [yes, I meant 10] and 18 what their favorite kind of music is, and I'll bet you that at least fifty percent, regardless of race or socioeconomic background, will say "rap" or "hip hop." Furthermore, all of the blogs, Foxnews, NRO and Techcentralstation's in the world cannot outdo the power of Hollywood 's alternative lifestyle worshipping generofilms.
Even if conservadom reached the same amount of people as the mainstream media and Hollywood, reason never competes with the flushed Night Train buzz of emotion in the minds of youth. Such minute points aside, Brian Anderson has powerfully introduced the larger world to the reality of a growing, and occasionally breeding, block of conservatives that clusterbomb liberal orthodoxies. Allow me to speak on the behalf of Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Dennis Miller when I iconoclastically thank him for his efforts.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other related stories: (open in a new window)
Buy South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias at Amazon.com for only $16.47 (34% off)
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
This week's poll
© 1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.