Economic Choices, the Media, and Racism

At the end of 2013, I wrote a blog post entitled, “The Problem with Giving Tuesday,” where I suggested that we have a responsibility and Christian mandate to more seriously reflect on our economic purchases and decisions.  I also noted that I was changing my consumption behavior when it came to chocolate – a decision that continues to prove challenging.This is a follow-up blog.

As we study about systems (like the chocolate trade), we learn the problems are bigger than we individually can solve.  It is important to be involved in political and social action, to demand greater regulations from both the state and from businesses themselves. Sin is individual and social; we are accountable for the sins of systems in which we participate and support in some way.

But that doesn’t negate the need for individual changes.  In calling us to hold ourselves accountable for what we buy, I’m not suggesting that our individual economic purchases are the most important way to fight injustice and exploitation in the economic system. But it acknowledges the link between the personal and the structural.  As a wise colleague noted to me recently, this means we often may feel that any decision we make will involve some level of sin, because of the society we are embedded within.

As I continue my commitment to not buying chocolate where the source is unknown, my second commitment is to change the media I consume. A number of racist and sexist stereotypes are promoted by much of the media, and the persisting racism and sexism in our society is shaped in part by media. First, I want to encourage and support more media with intentionally different messages about race and gender.  Related, I want to change the messages that I willingly consume, and that impact my own perceptions and stereotypes (of myself and others).

The Structural Problem

As many have written about more eloquently than I could, this past week was a bad week for the United States (and Florida in particular).  Yet another African-American murdered youth, Jordan Davis, died without justice from our legal system.  Michael Dunn, the white man who killed Jordan Davis, was considered not guilty for the murder.

While I would agree that Michael Dunn performed a heinous act, what is more disturbing is that our society accepted that act. Sociologists talk a lot about the issues of structural racism that persist in our society today, and that even as we may want to point to individuals who do “racist things,” the actions of those individuals are shaped by their culture, and allowed by the legal system that they live within. Michelle Alexander, a lawyer, scholar, and activist, recently wrote The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010). It provides great examples and analysis of the ways our criminal justice system contributes to a racial caste system in the United States (and can also help illustrate what it means to live in a society that promotes structural racism).

Culture and structure are often linked together, and the negative and racist stereotypes and attitudes that continue to exist in our society are closely linked to these structural realities.  Given that we continue to live in a racially segregated society, for many, media plays a crucial role in perpetuating racist stereotypes. Artist Jonathan Edwards has beautifully (and provocatively) depicted the “white vision” glasses that many from the majority racial group (and some who are not part of the majority) have towards African-American teenage men.

As Christians, this should be totally unacceptable to us.  For those who grew up in predominantly white contexts, we should be asking how we challenge these stereotypes that continue to be perpetuated and accepted, even if they are “rejected” explicitly in theory or discourse. In an earlier post this summer, I provided a quotation from Emmanuel Katongole, a Ugandan priest who wrote The Sacrifice of Africa: A Political Theology for Africa (Eerdmans, 2010). I want to repeat here the same quotation, because I think this characterization of African politics is not that different from what recent acquittals for Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman communicate today about how the United States values the lives of African-Americans:

 That these [African lives] are not unique, precious sacred lives; these are Africans, mere bodies to be used, mere masses to be exploited. That this theological claim has come to be widely assumed is obvious from the casualness with which the wastage of African lives is accepted. For a new future to take shape in Africa, the wanton sacrificing of African lives would have to be confronted-no, interrupted-by a different story and its accompanying practices in which the sacredness, the preciousness, the unviability, and the dignity of African lives are foregrounded? (17, bold-emphasis mine)

Individual Economic Behavior as One Source of Action

Given these steps backwards for racial justice in the United States, clearly social and political action is needed.  But on an individual level, I want to also ask how my economic choices matter, given my attention in the blog this year to our economic behaviors of consumption. As a result, I commit to being more proactive in the media I watch/read. While I already reject racist/sexist media as much as possible, I want to be more proactive in consuming media with the messages currently lacking in our society. While I do not think media alone changes our perceptions of others (we need to be living in more diverse communities, and learning about our history and current contextual realities), we cannot deny the role it plays in perpetuating stereotypes.

The film Miss Representation  highlights that women are underrepresented on screen and in the media, and that this is especially true for women of color. I should add that there is great lack of representation of positive images for men of color as well.  White male characters are often still the stars of mainstream films, television shows, and children’s cartoons. Unfortunately, this means that people of color are often depicted with stereotypes, given their limited representation (The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media provides some great statistics and analysis on issues surrounding gender, and interactions of race and gender, in the media)

 Right now, Doc McStuffins is an example of a show I want to support. Doc is a six-year old girl who wants to be a doctor, and serves as a doctor to her stuffed animals.  Her mom is a doctor, and she has a caring father; she is a good older sister to her younger brother.  She is friends with boys and girls.  She is an African-American girl who is the star, and not the sidekick.

I’d love to hear from readers on what you think are good films and/or television shows where racial diversity exists, and writers avoid relying on racial and gendered stereotypes.

 

 

 

Height and Romance

A few years ago when I was still single I had my good friend Michael Emerson spend the night with me. We went out to dinner and I regaled him with stories of my exciting adventures as a single man (that did not take very long). I also talked to him about surprising lessons I had learned. One of the biggest surprises was the advantage tall men gained due to their height. That was good for me since I am 6’-3” but it still surprised me since I did not see what the big deal was about being with a tall guy. Yet I had more than a few women, some of them quite tall, indicate that they would not date a man shorter than them and a smaller, but nontrivial, number of women indicating that the man they dated had to be several inches taller than she. Why height was so important to women just bedazzled me.

As I talked to Mike about this, it became clear that he did not have any answers to that question either. Then we both realized that we were social scientists and could actually design a research study that could satisfy our curiosity. Only nerds would think of such a study as fun but we are nerds. Since we both have tenure, we did not mind wasting some of our research time on a “fun” study. Well it was not a complete waste of time since the research comes out this month in the Journal of Family Issues. With research like this, maybe after I am done with sociology of religion, I will just become a relationship counselor.

We used some of my old data from online personal advertisements, which I collected when investigating issues of interracial dating, and collected data from open-ended questions sent to students at a public university. The advertisements provided a quantitative context for the qualitative findings from the open-ended questions. Whenever possible I prefer using mixed methods to gain a holistic perspective on the particular research question to be studied.

Some of our findings fit with previous research on height and heterosexual attraction. First, height is more important to women than it is to men. In the dating world one is better off being a tall woman than a short man. Second, the taller a woman is, the more open she is to dating someone shorter or only as tall as she and the shorter a man is the more open he is to dating someone taller or as short as he. This makes sense given that a tall woman and a short man eliminates more potential dating partners if they see someone who is respectively several inches taller/shorter than her/him. Finally, the height preference reflected height disparities between men and women. The average height desired by the women was not very different from the average height of men. The same is true for the average height desired by men.

Much of those results can be found in previous work, but what I liked about what we did was that we asked the respondents in the short answer questions why they had their height preferences. Here is where the results got interesting. For example, although we know that men prefer shorter women and women prefer taller men, it is interesting to consider if a woman can be too short or a man too tall. The answer is yes, although rejection of tall men and short women did not happen nearly as often as rejection of short men and tall women. When men indicated a floor to their height preference or women indicated a ceiling, it was generally because they envisioned physical, and possible sexual, difficulties with that partner. For them it was simply a practical concern.

But of course it was more common for males to have a height ceiling than a floor. While their height preferences were not as strong as females’ height preferences, it did exist. The most popular reason men gave for wanting a woman to not be too tall was societal expectations. They seem to want to escape the stigma of having a woman who towered over them. I suspect that if men did not feel this social pressure then more men would be willing to date taller women.

Why is it that women preferred taller men? What we found was that this preference was shaped by the height of the women. Women of different heights preferred taller men, but they did so for different reasons. For taller women they talked about wanting to have a man tall enough so that they could wear heels. They also sometimes talked about wanting to feel smaller than the man. This made them feel more feminine. For shorter women they talked more about feeling secure and protected if they were with a tall man.

My interpretation is that both tall and short women were findings ways to express traditional gender values given their height. For the tall woman she may feel less vulnerable to being physically attacked. In fact her height may give her physical confidence but rob her of confidence to be feminine. Wearing high heels can help her feel more feminine. Yet wearing these heels may only accomplish this if she is with a man who is tall enough to allow her to still be shorter than him. Thus, having a tall man helps her to fit into the traditional feminine role she has learned in our society. On the other hand, a short woman may fit into the role of a woman needing a man to protect her quite easily. Her lack of height can help her feel more physically vulnerable and thus she can look to a man for protection.

Even though I am tall, I do not think I am better able to protect a woman than a short man. A gun is a great equalizer in physical confrontation. Yet whether a tall man can actually protect a woman better, and thus fit into that traditional gender role, is not really that important. Short women believe that a tall man offers better protection and that is enough to make a taller man more attractive. The advantage of a tall man to a tall woman is clearer in a society where a man is supposed to be taller than a woman, even one in high heels. Social critics have pointed out that wearing high heels makes women more physically vulnerable and plays into a traditional patriarchal mindset of women being helpless. The need to have a vision of the man being taller than the women says something about societal patriarchy in that men must be seen as being stronger than women. We even had some women state that they prefer taller men simply because they envision the man as the leader of the relationship. Others talked about wanting to look up into a man’s eyes. Thus, in many ways, traditional gender roles play themselves out in these height preferences.

Of course, Mike and I have barely touched the surface of physical preferences in the context of our current society. This is not a major research topic for either one of us. Speaking for myself, I have other projects I see as more important than issues of physical attraction. But even the research question of physical attraction can offer us insight into gender dynamics in the United States and hopefully someone will be able to build on the work Mike and I did for “fun.”

Atonement and Resilience

How can the concept of resilience be applied to atonement between victims of crime and perpetrators of crime? Last week, I visited a class at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor called The Atonement Project where we discussed that very question.

Atonement activist Shaka Senghor

The class is the brainchild of Shaka Senghor, and he has worked with The University of Michigan and the MIT Media Lab to make his dream a reality.  As he recounts in this TedX Midwest lecture, Shaka was incarcerated as a teenager for taking someone’s life in a drug deal. How did he become so hardened that he pulled the trigger during a fight? How did his dreams of become a doctor go awry on the streets of Detroit? How did he turn his life around and become a proponent of atonement? As Shaka explains, no person should ever be considered beyond recovery or rehabilitation. As he tells in his memoir, Writing my Wrongs, for Shaka, uncovering his pain and learning to atone for his mistakes came through reading and writing.

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Along with my dear friend Professor Ashley Lucas, Shaka guides 16 students at the University of Michigan in a class on The Atonement Project. Ashley has been visiting prisons for the last 20 years to see her father. And she has written a play based on interviews she did with family members of incarcerated persons called Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass. She has done countless creative arts workshops inside prisons. And he has co-authored a book on women prisoners, Razor Wire Women.

Professor Ashley Lucas Through the Visiting Glass

Through their class, Ashley and Shaka reach out of their own pain to students who are willing to reach out to prisoners, their families, and victims of crime. The students go out in groups of two or three either into prisons or into communities affected by violence and crime and run creative arts workshops—painting, literature or theater. Their goal is to re-humanize people whose humanity has been harmed. Their energy and commitment was a tremendous inspiration to me. My last words to the students was that their work is a witness to a world that wants to shut itself off from other people’s pain.

I shared with the students about my own research among Haitian immigrants, and my recent research on young adults who have had traumatic life experiences. I asked them to read my favorite article on resilience, Chapter 1 of the Handbook of Adult Resilience, called “Resilience: A New Definition of Health for People and Communities,” by Alex J. Zautra, John Stuart Hall, and Kate E. Murray.I also assigned a blog by positive psychologist Robert E. Quinn where he answers a prisoner’s question about how focusing on the good can help his life that has been so full of bad.

Here are some students’ comments about the reading and discussion.

“I must have underestimated the human capacity to make something bad into something good. What stuck with me about our conversation about resilience is the universality of it. From Professor Mooney’s work in Haiti to our work in Michigan prisons, it is clear that human beings do not need to be ‘psychological superheros’ to respond to hardship with transformation. Hearing her speak about community and individual resilience restored my sense of purpose in regards to the Atonement Project. If I can convince people to hold on to hope through creation (art, theater, writing), I will have done my job well.”

Beautiful, sister!

“I really appreciated learning that from her [Margarita Mooney’s] numerous interviews with victims of violence or poverty, that it is often people who have less or people in non-Western cultures who are more accepting of people’s suffering and help build resilience as a community.”

So true!

“The first question I asked in regards to resilience is about its opposite effect. Might resilience be a bad thing, I thought? Why should people be happy about adapting to traumatic situations? After we discussed the notion of ‘hope’ with regards to resilience, I realized I was talking about something else. My concerns are regarding what is called ‘learned helplessness’ and that is different than resilience… Without this hope as a positive outcome, a person would always stay stuck in the box of suffering which becomes a defeatable attitude. Professor Mooney said that she is amazed how material hope is. That makes good sense to me.”

Wonderful! Martin Seligman would be proud that you know what learned helplessness is and how it differs from resilience.

“Recently I’ve been thinking about expectations of resilience, especially in terms of our interactions with people who have experienced trauma. I think it’s important to look for the little signs of resilience, in lieu of expecting great gestures. A smile, a willingness to talk about one’s challenges, positive social interactions, embracing one’s emotions (be they sad, angry, happy), empathy—these to me are the subtle signifiers of the resilient.”

Beautifully written!

“I think resilience is a highly relevant skill to have, not only in our own Atonement Project but also in much of life. Previously, I had thought resilience was just the ability to ‘bounce back’, but upon our class discussion with Margarita Mooney, I have learned it encompasses much more than that. We discussed and read about how resilience is often incorporated into entire communities, not just within the self…I remember reading before class that resilience takes into account our vast range of emotions/experiences, not just a lack of negative and a desire for positive outcomes.”

So glad you now have higher expectations that bouncing back!

“Resilience applies to my work with the Atonement Project because the two exist simultaneously. Both resilience and atonement require an acknowledgement of the situation, the pain and suffering and adversity that you are going through, or that you have inflicted upon another, of interior self-reflection. They work in a very cool circular relationship. Atonement is both an act of resilience, as well as a step towards resilience. It goes beyond the idea of just getting by in the face of adversity. Resilience is an act of taking life into your own hands.”

Yes, reflection is key to both atonement and resilience. Brilliant!

“Margarita’s discussion on resilience was eye-opening. The point that she mentioned that struck me the most was the way the United States learned to only desire the good emotions, while desiring to completely eliminate the bad ones. However, if there is any lesson that I learned here, it is that resilience—this notion of seeing the good through the bad—is so incredibly essential to human connection.”

Absolutely. Connection to other human beings requires a willingness to share their pain, not ignore it.

“Resilience is more than just getting back to zero or having overcome and physically surviving adversity. Resilience is a state of mind that requires having awareness about future positive events. You can’t just survive something tragic—you need to have the state of mind to move forward in a positive light. This doesn’t mean to forget what has happened but to learn from it. In order to even being to atone you need to have this resilient state of mind to understand that there are positive things ahead. Conversely you need to atone to be able to move on and see the positive.”

Resilience is not forgetting but transforming. Well put.

“I learned that resilience comes in different forms of manifestations. Whether you are resilient depends on your environment, personality, etc. Being resilient doesn’t mean simply getting back to ground zero, but rather continuing to move along and grow and prosper in your life. The talk left me uneasy about the line between what role mental illness/depression/drug addiction plays in resilience. I am continually astounded by the resilient people who surround me every day. It makes me believe that the human psyche is capable of anything.”

Thank you. We should keep talking about mental illness/depression/drug addiction and resilience.

“I learned how expansive the process of resilience is. Not only is it overcoming one’s trauma but it also means sustaining that positive outlook and going beyond just getting past an event. I want to bring this into the Atonement Project by encouraging a goal-setting mindset. Goals, a positive future, maintain and sustain this resilience. Getting over what landed you in prison is not enough. It is necessary for you, who you’ve hurt, and your community to ‘get over it’, come to terms about it TOGETHER and set goals to sustain this positive approach.”

Resilience only occurs with others. TOGETHER. Amen.

“The idea of resilience as a forward momentum, as an affective engagement into the future, is a concept I will take with me not only into the prison workshop but throughout my life. I will honor the challenges and struggles I’ve faced as opportunities for developing new capacities, not merely as set-backs.”

Keep moving forward, and let those setbacks make you stronger!

“I thought that resilience brought me a new perspective on atonement. It made me think how a person almost needs to reach resilience before they can reach atonement. Resilience is a very difficult process and I think it’s very important for the human psyche. Resilience gave me a new perspective when I think about the people we work with and what they’ve been through. I think resilience can bring people together to overcome difficult obstacles.”

Resilience is difficult and rewarding indeed. Preparing a talk on resilience and atonement was challenging for me, but as you can see from these comments, it was extremely rewarding. Thank you for your inspiration and witness.

Why Did Grant Walk?

It has been a long time since I have watched any award shows. To be honest they are just boring to me. I can just read who won what the next day and I am fine. So I guess I had no idea about the quality of entertainment that occurs at these shows. Or according to the actions of Natalie Grant, I had no idea of the lack of quality in that entertainment.

Grant is a gospel singer nominated for 2 Grammy awards. After attending the ceremony last week, she left as she did not want to expose herself to the “entertainment” that was presented. According to reports, there were several candidates for being the type of entertainment that may turn off a Christian woman. Beyonce seem eager to reveal her rump to the world. Katy Perry decided that a simulated burning at the stake of a witch was entertaining. We have a mass wedding ceremony including same-sex couples. And then there was a song about a guy just hoping to get lucky. It is feasible that any one of these “performances” was the one that put it over the top for Grant and convinced her to call it a night.

Her exit has evidently led to hate mail being sent to Grant. In response to that hate mail she replied: “We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve had many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head…I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.” Thus, ultimately we do not know why she chose to leave the event. It is possible that some are angry that she may have left due to the mass wedding, but since Grant has decided to keep that information to herself, they are only speculating. Yet, even if that is the reason she left, we should respect her right to not watch something with which she is uncomfortable, and yes perhaps even disagrees with. Has the new politically correct standard become that individuals must attend same-sex weddings? Seems to violate the assertion that allowing same-sex marriages comes with no costs to those who do not agree with them.

But I do not want to focus on that issue since we do not know why Grant decided to leave the ceremony. Rather I am more interested in the Katy Perry act. From what I have been told Perry took the stage as a witch and after some singing and dancing was “burned at the stake.” What!!!! How did this get approved by whoever decides what goes on the stage? I am not blaming Perry. I get it. She grew up a Christian and now she hates Christians. Maybe it is daddy issues. I leave that between her, her family and God. But there had to be more mature individuals involved in the planning of the program who would see the offensive nature of this act.

I know one of the critiques is that art is supposed to push the limitations. Art is about being cutting edge and challenging the status quo. If you do that then sometimes you are going to be offensive. Let us test that little argument. Instead of simulated burning a witch at the stake how about a performance where we reenact someone machine gunning down a group of Palestinians. Do we think that Jewish performers in the audience would have the right to be offended and walk out? Or perhaps we can have an act simulating a terrorist cutting the head off of a captive. Would a Muslim singer be in the right to be disgusted and to walk out of the award show? Putting issues in this perspective allows us to see why a Christian singer has a right to be offended by an act based on Christians murdering accused witches.

Furthermore, do we seriously think that any performer would do one of these latter two acts no matter how badly he or she wants to be cutting edge? I may be wrong. Perhaps there are media acts in the United States that are as rude to Jews, Muslims, the nonreligious, Buddhists, etc as this one is to Christians. I am open to being proven wrong in my assertion of the exceptional nature of offending Christians as opposed to other religious groups if someone can post some links illustrating my error. So ironically, the Perry act is not all that much of a cutting edge act after all. Does it really take much bravery to blast Christianity in Hollywood?

Someone helping to run the Grammys should have anticipated just how offensive Perry’s act would be, but they failed to do so. We can speculate why they were unable to foresee the insulting nature of this act. The organizers of the Grammys likely have few friends who are Christians or who at least take their Christianity seriously. So they had no one to give them some perspective of why such a performance would be insulting. I found it interesting that many of Grant’s critics automatically assumed that the mass wedding motivated her to leave. When I heard of all of the acts I immediately assumed that it was the witch burning that convinced her to go. I suspect that most of her critics also do not have Christian friends to give them perspective on why that act would be so offensive. I know from my research concerning interracial contact that not having friends from different groups can contribute to a level of ignorance and insensitivity towards members of those groups.

Another reason why the organizers of the Grammys did not foresee how offensive this act is concerns the general propensity of some individuals to dehumanize Christians. I recently finished up a blog series based on my latest book Dehumanizing Christians. The focus of that book was to indicate that ethnocentrism by certain groups of non-Christians lead to similar characteristics tied to previous theories of authoritarianism. I am doing other research investigating a more generalized examination of anti-Christian animosity. Needless to say anti-Christian hostility is an explanation that is underused by academics to explore social events. But it seems very viable that animosity towards Christians explains why the producers okayed an anti-Christian act that I do not think they would have okayed if it was as potentially offensive to members of other religions.

At the end of the day, having distasteful acts at the Grammy awards is not even close to being one of the more important problems in our society. I suspect that such performances will decrease the number of viewers of award shows over the next few years, but that will not be the end of the world. However, these episodes do provide insight into certain social dynamics occurring in the United States. So deconstructing these events provides us more insight into the religious atmosphere in our society.

Let’s Boycott – Not

About a week ago I decided to pick up a little lunch. I was trying to avoid red meat so I decided to go to Chick-Fil-A. However, the drive-through line nearly circled the store. I did not feel like going into the restaurant so I went to a close by WhataBurger and ordered a grilled chicken salad. But I really wanted that chicken sandwich so while I was in line at the WhataBurger I began to think about the boycott. You remember the boycott. The one launched against Chick-Fil-A because of their support for traditional marriage. That boycott certainly was not working given the number of people waiting to place their order. Chick-Fil-A is not going out of business any time soon.

The boycott against Chick-Fil-A has worked about as well as the boycott against Starbucks. Starbucks was supposed to feel the wrath of Christian conservatives due to their support of same-sex marriage. Ever see an empty Starbucks? I probably have but it has been a long time. The boycott against them seems to have no effect whatsoever. It probably helps some conservatives to feel good and they can console themselves with the fact that none of their money is going to be used by the leaders of Starbucks to support causes they oppose. However, it is clear that Starbucks is not feeling pressure to alter their political advocacy. Like Chick-Fil-A they are not going out of business any time soon.

What can we learn from these failed boycotts? These failed boycotts indicate the degree of cultural division in our society. Generally speaking, boycotting an organization for supporting a culturally conservative cause is likely to fail since cultural conservatives are going to financially support that organization. The reverse is true when it comes to boycotting an organization that supports a culturally progressive cause. The exception to this is if an organization’s product especially caters to one group or the other. The show Duck Dynasty caters to individuals who tend to support culturally conservative causes. Thus when GLAAD fought against those cultural conservatives over the Duck Dynasty controversy, there is no question who the producers at A & E needed to keep the successful show going. There are limited times where a boycott can work but if the opponents of those doing the boycotting can support the business being boycotted, then a boycott is doomed to fail.

My observation about boycotts has important implications about our society. There is often talk about a culture war. It is a war fought not only about cultural political issues but also over lifestyles and theological presuppositions. It seems that both sides in this war are of roughly equal strength. Thus, both sides of the war are strong enough to protect businesses supporting their causes. Since cultural conservatives and cultural progressives are of equal strength, they view each other as threats that must be stopped. This helps to explain the degree of vitriol we often pick up between cultural conservatives and cultural progressives. Those of us who perceive ourselves in neither camp have to watch them attack each other and this type of hostile attitude is not going away in the near future. Lucky us.

Over the last few years I have done quite a bit of work documenting the type of bias and intolerance found within cultural progressives. There is a lot of previous work documenting these qualities within cultural conservatives. Both sides believe that they are locked in a war they must win. Cultural conservatives believe that if they do not win then society will fall into the hands of immoral secularists who will end the traditional social structures that have sustained us. Cultural progressives believe that if they do not win then society will become a theology that oppresses all non-Christians. This reminds me of work on religious terrorists by Juergensmeyer who pointed out that those terrorists feel that they are in a cosmic war that they dare not lose. They feel free to engage in terrorism as they are desperate to win their social struggles. Neither cultural progressives nor cultural conservatives are terrorists, but both are desperate to win their social struggles and they are not only willing to avoid a Chick-Fil-A sandwich or a caffe latte but also will try to stigmatize those who do eat or drink those products. But, as I have pointed out, the energy on the other side of the struggle prevents those boycotts from succeeding.

The deep concern of those on both sides of the cultural war is creating an interesting phenomenon. We are becoming a society not only divided by the traditional cultural/political issues, and our lifestyles but also by the very products we purchase. As I looked at that car line at Chick-Fil-A, I could not help thinking that those in the line were likely to be cultural conservatives. When I look at a Starbucks I tend to think that those customers are probably cultural progressives. Since I buy at both Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks, obviously I am an example that such assumptions are not always correct. But I do fear that we are becoming a society that culturally divides itself in every way possible. That divide is not just on the overt cultural elements such as media consumption, religious tradition, entertainment choices but even in our most basic decisions such as where we purchase our food and drink. If we link a division with even more basic ways about how we divide ourselves such as where we live (cultural progressives tend to live in big cities while cultural conservatives tend to live in small towns and certain suburbs) then we can gain more of an appreciation of just how much our society is segmented.


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