ZELIZER: We often talk about the key culture war figures as being on the right -- Reagan and Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh and Trump. But I've heard George Will and other conservatives say the left started the culture war, not the right, and maybe they have a point. Through that lens, all those right-wing culture war warriors are basically backlash figures against social justice crusaders who may have been on the right side of history, you might think, but on offense generated by them.
RUSH: What he's saying is that the culture warriors on the right were defending, were reactionary, were minding their own business, were bothering nobody. Then we get attacked. Things we believe in and hold dear get attacked and we react to it. But still in his mind, we're reactionaries and the left-wing culture warriors are for "social justice." Magic words! It legitimizes them: Social justice. They can't be wrong. Social justice! Who can oppose social justice?
Of course, the social justice warriors, the last thing they're interested in is social justice. They're socialists and communists. They are not anything about social justice. To them, justice is conservatives being denied all kinds of freedoms and access and civil liberties. So here's what the history professor said to the sudden realization that, "Well, you know, maybe these guys on the right aren't the ones that started all of this."
ZELIZER: It is true of conservatism. They are not just imagining, uh, what they don't like. They are seeing very real changes in society, and our book does stress there are many elements to the, quote-unquote, "culture wars," and it's not simply a shift to the right in the country. Uh, but proponents of gay rights, proponents of feminism in the seventies, coexist at the same time as the movement, and that's part of what gives them such intensity.
RUSH: Meaning, we're reacting to a concerted effort to overthrow what has always worked in this country. I'm telling you, folks, what this is about. These culture wars are not complicated. It's a bunch of people who don't like what has always been defined as normal, 'cause they don't think they fit into it. So it's rage and it is anger. We sit out here; we're fine and dandy. One day, everything about us is supposedly racist, bigoted, homophobic, reprehensible -- and they expect us just to sit here and be docile under this assault? It ain't gonna happen!
This article originally appeared on Rush Limbaugh