All culture wars, all the time

by John Q on March 18, 2012

I’ve been meaning for a while to write a post about the way in which all US political issues are viewed, particularly from the right, through the lens of the culture wars. The same is true for the large segments of the right in other English-speaking countries that take their lead from the US. I decided to get it done after reading this piece from Jonathan Haidt in the NYT, which makes quite a few of the points I had in mind, but treats political tribalism as an eternal reality (here evo-psych raises its inevitable head) rather than a factor that varies in importance at different times and places.

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St. Patrick’s Day: Kevin McAleer in Action

by Henry Farrell on March 18, 2012

In celebration of the day that’s in it, something from my past, and the past of a fair number of people from my generation. We were nearly the last to come of age when Irish culture was dominated by a combination of the Catholic Church and a particularly lugubrious nationalism. One of the early harbingers of its collapse was a television show, _Nighthawks_, which was broadcast on Ireland’s second station at 11pm a few nights a week, when the pious and well behaved had already gone to bed. The best bits of it were the occasional appearances by stand-up comic, Kevin McAleer, who stretched the conventions of Irish rural life, out and out and out, until they had become completely surreal and demented, all while staring at you with an expression of utter gormlessness, shot through with occasional bouts of craftiness. I mentioned this once before on Crooked Timber, and got an email out of the blue from McAleer, telling me that the tapes of _Nighthawks_ had long ago been erased, in the systematized auto-da-fe that was Irish television’s contribution to our cultural heritage (see also “Kieran”: ). But in the interim, someone (McAleer himself??) seems to have found some bits and pieces, and put them together with footage of his live show on Youtube, which should give people the flavour of the thing. Here are two. I’d be interested to know how readers react to them – I think they’re inspired myself but you may have to have the right cultural context to really get them. I’d be interested to know how they travel.