Rise of the Godless Right
You may have noticed brash entertainment acts like Howard Stern, South Park, Penn and Teller, and Adam Corolla (pictured above), and were confused when on a host of issues… they agreed with you. You may also have noticed a loud group of energized and trendy college kids yelling things about liberty and Ron Paul over the past few years. If you’re a traditional faith, flag, and family conservative, this has likely left you scratching your head.
Isn’t the in-your-face, juvenile humor supposed to emanate from the left? Aren’t young students loudly demanding revolutionary change also a force of the left? Well the times they are a changin’, and there are new rebels on the scene.
From its very founding, America has a great history of cultural rebellion. The left continued this tradition in the 1960’s, finding new things to rebel against. Their greatest legacy was fighting for full-equality for African-Americans, women, and other minorities. These were unquestionably noble battles to wage, but it didn’t end there. It seems we have been in a constant state of rebellion ever since. The traditional family structure, capitalism, organized religion, patriotism, and even basic sexual mores are all now on the chopping block.
The resulting nihilism has left America’s cultural landscape a chaotic realm for the youthful rebel. Does he join one of these revolutions and storm the Bastille of faith, family, or flag, or does he rebel against parts or all of the rebellion? Increasingly, youth are choosing the latter. As Peter Kreeft stated, “In an age that has jettisoned all of its tradition, the only rebellion possible is orthodoxy.”
There are many examples of this trend, but most interesting to me are two sons of liberal LA culture, Adam Carolla and Andrew Breitbart. Seeing liberalism lived out to its logical ends inspired both to abandon the worldview they were raised in, in the same way college students raised in conservative Christians households are known to do.
Adam Carolla runs a radio pod cast which is so popular, it is now the most downloaded in history. On the show he openly discusses his childhood jealousy of the other kids who had stable home lives. He contrasts their parents who cared about their grades, and provided dinner every night, to his state-dependent, irreligious single-mother and her rundown apartment. A harsh criticism but an honest one from his painful experience of childhood. It is clear he views his upbringing as a lousy alternative to the traditional family. Carolla discussed this at length with close friend and conservative Jewish radio star, Dennis Prager. This curious relationship between Carolla and Prager, a champion of faith and family values, has confused many of Carolla’s fans. He remains foul-mouthed and atheist, but his practical secular critique of liberalism is garnering an enormous audience.
Andrew Breitbart, also raised liberal in LA, was a powerhouse of this new right before his early death at 43. He was a rabid leftist for much of his youth, hanging out in their cultural mecca, Hollywood. Breitbart cited the left’s hypocrisy and character assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas as the main catalyst to his political conversion. His personality and energy were the major force for the right’s recent success with new media. His projects ended the careers of US Congressmen Bob Etheridge and Anthony Weiner, led to the dissolution of the community organizing group ACORN, and created a nation-wide scandal from his undercover video exposing corruption at Planned Parenthood. He gave voice to a younger, urban right, with technological expertise that has added new power to the conservative movement. Despite being an atheist, he, like his friend Adam Carolla, displayed respect for the religious opinions of his comrades.
Here is Carolla discussing the death of Breitbart earlier this year (language warning)
Although many of this ilk are in revolt against much of the leftist worldview, most have not come running back to religion. Some like Breitbart and Carolla respect faith despite their atheism, while others are openly hostile to social conservatism, as can be seen on Penn and Teller’s popular show “Bullshit” and the vulgar cartoon “South Park.” This has left many on the right unsure of how to receive them. They are making powerful conservative arguments for patriotism, capitalism, and limited government but simultaneously denounce traditional views on family and faith.
Ultimately, this rise of a godless right may be a critique of both right and left. They often will claim neither mantle and prefer the term libertarian instead. This new voice on the American political scene should give both sides things to consider and offer another option for Americans tired of trying to fit their worldview into the dichotomy of religious right and secular left. Often their rhetoric has matched the baseness of the popular entertainers of the left, but they insist on fighting fire with fire.
They are true rebels in the American tradition, challenging orthodoxy and hypocrisy wherever they see it. This mantle is being stolen from liberals whose rebel credentials are being challenged due to their vast cultural power. The left may need to accept that when you control major institutions like the media, academia, the entertainment industry, and so many other parts of our cultural landscape, you are no longer the rebels. Those who stand against you are.