‘Adead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it,” said G. K. Chesterton. National Review has demonstrated its liveliness by going against the tide of a culture that threatens to drag us down into the slough of despond.
The phrase “culture war” was born in Germany, then used in a Republican convention speech nearly 30 years ago, and has since become the description of the times we live in. But cultures are vast things, much larger and more mysterious than mere politics or even the state itself. A culture includes the religion of the people, their assumptions about human nature and about the purpose of their civic associations; it is our assumptions about what is good to know, and why. And of course, it includes the resplendent gamut of the arts, high culture, and mass entertainment. National Review has been fighting for a healthy, free, excellent, and truly diverse culture from the start and carries on that fight today.
The Left talks about diversity, by which it means all types of people brought into conformity. They believe that every social and cultural institution is meant to embody and enact one set of progressive egalitarian values. But we have supported the republican institutions and a conservative judiciary that would allow truly diverse organizations to flourish in American society.
We have stood with the little platoons that make life in our society worth living in. And dying in! Over the years, we stood with the Little Sisters of the Poor and their right to spiritually and materially assist the dying while remaining Catholic. We’ve stood with all religious organizations that seek freedom to honor God and serve His people according to their conscience.
We have been at the forefront of opposing the emerging threat of gender ideology that would rob women of their spaces, their sports, and even their exclusive claim to motherhood. The phenomenon would impose on young children a life of sterility and surgeries and aims to put into doubt some of the oldest and most basic facts about biology. NR stands athwart this social contagion of lies.
National Review does not allow partisanship to cloud our judgment on these matters. When even Republican governors are willing to give in to the chemical castration and abuse of children, National Review rises up to oppose them. When a Republican-appointed and usually sound Supreme Court justice decides that transgenderism and gender identity are part of Johnson-era legislation on civil rights, we call out his false textualism, his tautologies, and his arrogant invitation to sue people to find out the true meaning of his ruling.
Before it became commonplace, we pointed out that our new identity politics was a displaced and discombobulated form of religion. We’ve also pointed out that it is kind of a miserable way to go through life.
And National Review’s arts coverage reflects that deep commitment to human excellence and beauty, free of cant and the strictures of ideology. In particular, I think it is important to call out the essential, provocative coverage of cinema offered by Armond White, who not only argues for the greatness of cinema but is himself an American original. Alongside him, we have Kyle Smith and Ross Douthat covering the movies and what they mean for American life.