Phil Robertson, Gramsci, and Tolerance
After several days of hullaballoo regarding Phil Roberson's comments, A&E's resulting suspension, threats of the family to walk, indignation from the PC crowd, Conservatives rising in defense, point, counterpoint, and arguments about rights or lack thereof, one can see with some clarity what it means to embrace the progressive virtue of "tolerance." This Newspeak term has become a buzzword to suggest that we should all simply tolerate people, lifestyles, beliefs, actions, and the like that are different from our own, because from a value standpoint they're basically all the same. In the ideal, this would mean that people from all walks of life can come together and sit down at the utopian table of progressive brotherhood, free of power structures and hungry for a cruelty-free feast. In practice, tolerance and other PC-buzzwords, like equality, are used to subvert culture and encourage relativism by infiltrating otherwise fringe and radical ideas into the mainstream.
Cultural warfare of this nature is the application of theory developed by Antonio Gramsci. Acknowledging that a violent overthrow of the Italian system was impossible, Gramsci realized that the country could still be turned communist if the same radical ideas were instead inserted slowly, over the course of time, rather than in a single upheaval. In other words, the Bolshevik 'war of maneuver' could not be reproduced in Italy; it would be necessary to pursue a 'war of position', which focused on society and culture with a goal changing the fabric from the inside, to encourage socialism through gradualism and salami tactics. This slow whittling away the fabric of society and replacing it with their own eventually causes a passive revolution in which the hegemonic group, culture, way of life, even civilization, is replaced by a new counterhegemony (read: communism).
This idea was focused around the institutions of society. Institutions are full of intellectuals, which perform specialized functions, are seen as experts, and so on. To Gramsci, everyone was an intellectual, but not everyone's function was to be an intellectual; just because one can make an omelet does not make one a chef. Gramsci distinguished some intellectuals are "organic" intellectuals, brought up within the educational system to lead a particular societal function. He believed that the cultivation of this type of intellectual is what propagated the status quo, or cultural hegemony. If the communists wanted to dominate this culture, it was through this type of intellectual that they would do it. It is pursuant of this thought that communists have come to dominate the education of our children, control of teachers unions, curriculum, and academia. (For more, see here.)
Hegemony is the status quo, it is the way things function, it is 'common sense' to everyone, it is that which communists seek to replace. For our purposes especially, it is the Constitution and Western Civilization. To break the hegemony, one must simultaneously chip away at pervasive ideas and push otherwise unacceptable ideas closer toward the mainstream. To accomplish this feat, imposing the will of the minority upon the majority, dissenting views are to be demonized and ostracized. It therefore becomes social suicide to disagree with the new mainstream, as views that dissent from the new version of mainstream are met with indignant reactions, demonization, and ridicule. The fear of the result causes individuals to self-censor when discussing divisive issues of cultural importance. If Gramsci can't get you to join him, he'll at least get you to keep your opinions to yourself, tacitly approving of whatever otherwise radical agenda item he might be peddling.
The tactics employed and expounded by Saul Alinsky take Gramsci's theory and put it into practice in the American sphere, with some explicitly socialist terminology changed to terms that might be considered more acceptable, turning the cultural war instead into a conflict between the "haves" and the "have-nots." Alinsky's Rules for Radicals repackages a lot of ideas into a practical guide for activists to impose grief on their opponents. Rule number 13 states that one should "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." To accomplish this, individuals become symbols to destroy for the benefit of the "have-nots," or counterhegemonic forces.
The target in the case of Phil Robertson is everything he represents as a white, Christian male who openly advocates for tradition; everything liberals see as cultural hegemony in America. Attacking Robertson is personalizing the cultural debate, as he becomes the personification of everything he represents, and not simply just one man versus the PC Police. Any victory in favor of more political correctness that is claimed over him and his views is a victory over the qualities, values, and systems he represents. Polarizing the debate over one person can throw off the defense and favor the offense, as those who rush to "stand" with Phil may defend the individual rather than what he represents. Alinsky's whole process depends on putting the defense on their heels, changing tactics, keeping the pressure on, making threats, using ridicule as a weapon, and pushing a negative until it becomes a positive. A successful attack necessitates a constructive alternative, which in this case will mean more equality and tolerance for all, except that anyone white, Christian, male, and traditional is less equal and will not be tolerated.
Ideally, Robertson becomes an example of what happens when one opposes the counterhegemony. It pushes the fringe into the mainstream and dissuades people from expressing traditional views, else suffer the social consequences. As a result, the First Amendment begins to acquire a caveat which suggests that freedom of speech and religion only apply to people who abide by the counterhegemonic, relativistic, and progressive forces. Christianity and Western Civilization, the roots of the very culture which acknowledged the need to protect these rights in the first place, cynically change in liberal groupthink to become considered oppressive forces that must be silenced.
The blowback from this event has shown that there are still conservatives out there who are not afraid to stand up to totalitarian forces in our culture. What becomes necessary now is the use of fire to fight fire. The more we learn about the tactics employed by the left, the more we can defend against them. For example, another of Alinsky's rules suggests holding one's enemies up to their own book of rules. In this case, that means exploiting the hypocritical nature of terms like tolerance and equality. Ridicule can be used as a weapon to address this problem, especially the type done by Oleg Atbashian at ThePeoplesCube.com. Next, rather than offering more tolerance as a constructive alternative, conservatives have to make strong affirmations of American culture and values, through historical anecdotes and counterexamples. Show how liberal policies have hurt America's rankings on freedom indices, remind liberals of the terror endured by subjects of totalitarian regimes, quote communists while reminding people of the 100 million people their governments murdered. The combinations are endless.
Ultimately, they don't need us to agree with them. All they need is our silence, and they should be denied that satisfaction.