The losses have piled up so much that the war is seen as illegitimate even by many former sympathizers. In the medium term, this means not only a fall-off in the intensity of this particular war, but an enduring sense among the defectors that we ought to never wage similar wars in the future.
As usual, the facts of the "MAGA teen vs. Native American" episode do not matter. With all of these hate hoaxes -- from Tawana Brawley to Matthew Shepard to the Duke lacrosse team to the UVA fraternity in Rolling Stone to the Access Hollywood tape to the Kavanaugh pile-on -- the central elements of the liberal narrative are unsubstantiated or proven false.
Yet again, the key facts of the narrative were proven false in the MAGA teen episode -- the Native American approached the white kids, he beat a drum with a stick right in the kid's face without provocation, all while Black Hebrew Israelites (left out of the original draft) chanted bigotries against the white kids. So much for the take-away message that the white teenagers were the instigators, that they acted out of proportion, etc.
Indeed, the facts of some incident during a war climate are only framed in such a way as to motivate a concrete set of actions that the warriors had already wanted to achieve. It's like the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was involved in 9/11, etc. -- plainly lies from the very outset, but that didn't matter. That narrative was just a rationalization for the pre-existing plan to invade and occupy Iraq, dethrone Hussein, and put the nation under the US military's sphere of influence.
So the total collapse of the narrative is not what is noteworthy this time around -- that always happens with these hoaxes. What's new is the level of response demanded by the culture warriors -- ranging from ruining these teenagers' lives to exterminating conservative white males as a group. At earlier stages of the war, they would have demanded something less extreme, like merely staining their reputations, making them apologize for nothing, or suspending them from school. Now they're calling for them to be completely unpersonned or even killed off.
This marks an escalation in the risk-reward calculation that the culture warriors are making -- increasingly high-risk / high-reward for their cause. But most high-risk attempts fail, by definition. And when they blow up, the losses are far greater than with a loss under a low-risk / low-reward scenario.
Returning to the Iraq War analogy, this is like the stage beyond the Pentagon and CIA's support for both sides in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, or the brief safe battle of the Gulf "War" in the early '90s, or the economic sanctions of the Clinton years. Those were all relatively low-risk and low-reward. Outright invasion and occupation on the order of hundreds of thousands of troops, plus eliminating the governing coalition and its leader, was a far higher risk -- and not surprisingly, it blew up in their faces. The geopolitical goal was to keep Iraq out of the Russian and Iranian spheres of influence, and under the US sphere, but they achieved precisely the opposite.
Whereas many Republicans and conservatives -- and a good deal of liberals and Democrats -- had supported US antagonism against Iraq during the earlier stages, they could no longer defend the war. Supporters turned into skeptics, and skeptics turned into opponents, not just on this war but any other like it in the future.
Indeed, we can see the beginning of this crisis phase in the culture war already with the media campaign against Trump's sexism during the 2016 election. The facts don't matter -- how many of the accusers retracted their stories, didn't pursue their allegations after the election season, or the clear intent of Trump's words on the Access Hollywood tape (i.e., that when you're a big star, women will let you do all sorts of things sexually because women are star-fuckers who fall under the spell of your celebrity). That was high-risk -- a continual campaign against one of the major-party candidates -- and it blew up in their faces. They lost the election, even more decisively than when they were more reserved against George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
The same thing happened during the Kavanaugh confirmation in 2018. They escalated from "Kavanaugh drunkenly groped a girl in high school" to "Kavanaugh's entire social circle were perpetrating a serial gang rape epidemic in the affluent DC suburbs." And what reward did they get out of this high-risk campaign? Not only failure to block his confirmation, but leaving such a bitter taste in his mouth that he will only be more vindictive against their pet causes during his long tenure.
With the MAGA teen episode, the culture warriors were not just demanding the withdrawal of a presidential candidate or Supreme Court nominee -- they were calling for the banishment, impoverishment, assault, and murder of white adolescents who don't back down when antagonized by non-whites. If you respond like a pussy-ass little bitch, then fine, you don't have to be banished from society. But if you stand your ground -- like the average, normal, majority would do -- then you should be genocided.
And what did the warriors achieve? Not a single scalp! None of the kids are going to get disciplined, none are groveling or apologizing for nothing, presumably none will be shut out from gainful employment, and none are going to get assaulted or murdered as punishment for their supposed crime. If anything, they have only hardened their targets into greater vindictiveness after the warriors lost.
And unlike the earlier incidents, this time the media had to almost immediately retract their narrative and issue mealymouthed apologies. This makes all future battles even more risky on the warriors' part, since they've already admitted their own guilt. If they were not forced into admitting guilt, they could enlist their troops into another high-risk battle. But after having to admit guilt, and cut their losses so swiftly, there will be far fewer troops willing to enlist in the next battle, and they will not fight with the same zeal.
To reiterate, this is not necessarily because those would-be warriors have had a change of beliefs -- they may still believe the narrative to some degree, but given how catastrophically their leaders have fucked up, they would not expect glorious victory but humiliating defeat. Thanks, but no thanks. These are akin to former Iraq War supporters who may still believe that Hussein was a threat that needed to be contained, but on pragmatic grounds simply do not want to keep losing wars.
Of course, some would-be warriors have gone the extra step and now no longer believe the narrative that there are widespread roving gangs of white supremacist preppies who must be eliminated before they inflict further trauma on society. These are akin to the former Iraq War supporters who will never forget being lied to so blatantly about WMDs, 9/11, etc. They might hypothetically accept a military role for the US if such claims were proven to be true, but after such a stinging betrayal, they can no longer trust the claims from the US military. In the culture war, these types will dismiss future narratives as the same old fear-mongering that they lied about last time.
A tiny minority have been principled anti-culture-war pacifists the whole time, but then they do not represent a change during this new phase. Pacifists don't end wars -- defectors do. This has nothing to do with value judgments of who has been on the right side of history, but a descriptive statement of when we can evaluate the conditions to have qualitatively shifted out of one phase and into another.
Below is a sample of these defections. They are on the socialist Left, and although I don't know for sure, probably bought into the basic narrative of the Duke lacrosse case in the last decade. Maybe even saw white preppy dudes as a bad social force needing to be contained somehow. And at least some of them bought into the initial reporting on the MAGA teen episode, before the whole picture disproved it.
But their initial reaction was that even if we accept your framing of the events, what do you want us to do? You're calling for teenagers to be doxxed, banished, assaulted, and mass murdered -- that's psychotic and disgusting on its own, and will only make it more impossible for the class-oriented Left to build a coalition to achieve a better standard of living for everyone.
That's the key distinction -- it doesn't matter if some on the Left still believe parts of a specific narrative (e.g., the MAGA teen), or the greater ongoing narrative about "shitty white males". Beliefs don't matter, only actions. If they're unwilling to enlist in the culture war, and might outright sabotage it in the future, that's what matters, not their conception of events.
This will be lost on the identitarian Right, who as idealists will not consider the culture war over until one side changes its beliefs. But to the materialist / realist Right, this clearly portends the winding down of the culture war, as liberal media generals increasingly find it harder and harder to sign up new zealous troops.
You're definitely not going to see the radlib left say "sorry we fucked up." So, it's sort of enjoyable to watch the totally predictable moving of the goalposts back to the 2016 message of MAGA is a racist statement. pic.twitter.com/SmnvVBZHCD— Jesse Singalese Liberation Army (@Shialabeefsteak) January 21, 2019
Condemning people for how they look now. Their cheekbones and nose indicate someone of low moral character, and we just cannot wait to see them purged from society.— everyone deserves a decent life (@martymacmarty) January 21, 2019
Last comment on this grotesquerie but the people piling in on this spectacle of hate disgust me utterly. https://t.co/sDy2cRQ7Qg
Do you want to know why this MAGA chud is both famous and increasingly viewed as a sympathetic figure? Because you created this. Your continued insistence on your own inviolability is ruining the credibility of progressive and leftwing journalism among the broader public.— Adam Proctor (@AdamPr0ct0r) January 22, 2019
It's sick.— Aimee Terese (@aimeeterese) January 22, 2019
There it is, the ressentiment. Revenge of the nerds. "Dismantling their power structures" has nothing to do with seizing and redistrubuting wealth - material socialism - because nerds are well off too; this sort of shit is 100% pathetic spite pic.twitter.com/jgxSbiHhJp— Elagaballer 🗿🏀 (@htmlmencken) January 21, 2019
i think the reaction to the maga-hat kids highlights some of the problems with the 'left', at laest online. very emotional, volatile, quick to leap to conclusions and lash out. yeah it makes sense that everyone is scared and angry, but we cant let it make us stupid.— post hog ergo tony hawk (@Discourse_Stu) January 21, 2019
The last one is the start of a thread too long to embed here. I'm leaving Michael Tracey aside since he's been reliably against this culture war crap for awhile, and not as notable of a defection.
Here is a recent episode of the Red Scare podcast that discusses the issue, and places them within the same defector camp as the Twitter people above. Two of those quoted, Adam Proctor and Aimee Terese, host the Dead Pundits Society podcast, and will be live-streaming on their YouTube channel at 8pm ET tonight -- I'd be surprised if they didn't touch on the issue. Here are two lengthy threads, first and second, at a Reddit group dedicated to destroying identity politics in favor of class-first Leftism.
A separate defection comes from the Black identitarian part of the Left, exemplified by Tariq Nasheed. He takes the media narrative at face value -- since, again, the facts are not relevant -- but asks what the liberal Establishment wants him to do about it? Blacks have been fighting other groups' fights for too long, with no reciprocation to help out blacks specifically, so it's time to let non-black groups like Native Americans fight their own fights. (HYON means "hold your own nuts".) He emphasizes the antagonism between non-white groups, such as Native American tribes trying to keep their membership purified of black people with some Native ancestry.
I saw the video of the suspected white supremacist teens in the MAGA hats while taunting a Native American elder.....And that is very unfortunate...— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) January 19, 2019
BUT, many Indian tribes kicked out the Black ppl connected to them so that Blacks wouldn't get money, so this aint my fight #HYON https://t.co/MDKbOAVIto
Presumably, Nasheed would enlist in a culture war hysteria that involved blacks as the victims, but those have become increasingly rare. As he goes on at length about in a livestream on this issue, the mainstream now considers the narratives about blacks as victims to belong to the past, during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. They are old news. The new culture war narratives are all about women of various races, including wealthy white women, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, immigrants (including African immigrants, who slavery-descended Nasheed does not identify with), homosexuals, trannies, and so on and so forth.
So while he and his fellow travelers are potential culture warriors, they will not be so in practice since the generals are no longer waging war on the "black victims" battlefield. If the only battlefields that the generals choose are about defending wealthy Ivy-educated white women, gay Hollywood child molesters, and black-hating immigrant groups, they will not be volunteering for the culture war.
Political independents and realist conservatives should be doing whatever they can to amplify these fractures within the Left, so that identity politics and culture warring can be eliminated for good. Not because Leftists will convert their belief system to that of right-wingers, but because they won't want to keep investing so much into such increasingly risky ventures that only keep delivering greater and greater losses.