- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

T-Shirt Culture War

A reader writes:

Rod, I’m enjoying your posts from Budapest! Meanwhile, back in Lake Worth, TX, a red town in a red state, I saw some interesting signs of the times today:

In a big box home improvement store, a little girl, perhaps 10, was walking with a woman who was presumably her mother. Little girl’s pink tee shirt read, “Love is love is love!” and had beneath the interlocked symbols for two men, then the symbols for two women, and then the symbols for one of each.

In a big box grocery etc. store was an adult woman wearing a hijab, and with her a girl of perhaps 14 whose tee shirt read, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you can just be quiet?”

But don’t worry! In another store we see cultural Christianity’s message to counter the tee shirt messages: (see above).

When you write “I Was Wrong. Let’s Head For the Hills,” I’d be happy to contribute. 😉

change_me

34 Comments (Open | Close)

34 Comments To "T-Shirt Culture War"

#1 Comment By Mary Nees On March 11, 2018 @ 9:21 am

pitiful and succinct

#2 Comment By JohnE_o On March 11, 2018 @ 10:57 am

“Kids today!” said every generation, ever.

#3 Comment By BadReligion On March 11, 2018 @ 11:10 am

Why would one want to counter the messages on the shirts?

#4 Comment By no comment On March 11, 2018 @ 11:18 am

only fools think muslims arent on board with the culture

#5 Comment By DRK On March 11, 2018 @ 11:30 am

Just for fun, I went and looked up the Bible purse. It’s a purse-shaped children’s book of Bible stories and stickers with a handle for carrying it around. The Bible stories have a verse reference so the kiddos can look up the stories in their parent’s Bibles when they get older. While I am not crazy about the sparkly pink purse aspect of this book, if you want to teach your three year old Bible stories while on the go, this seems as good a way as any. There’s a backpack version as well.

I’m curious, how do readers on this blog start teaching their toddlers about religion? Talking to them, of course, but in my family we also read them children’s Bible stories. There was the occasional Bible coloring book. And they loved this children’s show called Veggie Tales. (Although I had my doubts about the episode with David and Bathsheba. They bowdlerized that one down to nonsense! Some stories from the Bible are better left for older kids).

#6 Comment By MikeCA On March 11, 2018 @ 12:18 pm

First a point of agreement with your correspondent – I’m enjoying your Budapest posts as well! During the cooler months I often make mushroom paprikas,it’s easy,tasty & quite satisfying even without meat.
As for the tshirts that he found concerning,what’s wrong with promoting tolerance (aka good old fashioned politeness)? Generally tolerance will lead to acceptance (especially for the young) and I suspect that’s the problem. I don’t especially care for t shirts/caps that promote Trump or guns “God Bless our troops,especially the snipers” or the Quiverfull movement,etc but I keep it to myself and move on. We’re a diverse nation – TX is actually catching up with CA & NY in terms of racial,ethnic, religious diversity. This gentleman will see more of this unless he “heads for the hills”.

#7 Comment By collin On March 11, 2018 @ 12:55 pm

If smug liberals need to take down a notch to win elections, then snickering against minority children diversity tee shirts I sure is a long term winning strategy for conservative Republicans who are in a close race for PA-18 which was won by Trump by 20 points.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 11, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

T-shirts may be signs of the times, but they are merely expression of opinion. They are binding on nobody. That’s a critical distinction. Some things are valid subjects for statutory incentives and penalties. Others are just expressions of shifting in-group and out-group verbiage. I was always in with the out crowd, and out with the in-crowd, even in junior high school, the Mamas and the Papas to the contrary notwithstanding.

#9 Comment By Anne On March 11, 2018 @ 5:32 pm

And yet, when I viewed the new Disney film “A Wrinkle in Time,” a movie clearly targeted at the same demographic, among the film previews approved to accompany it was, of all things, “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness,” a heavy-handed faith-based film taken straight from what might have been a Dreher blog headline, i.e., about a university chapel burned down for allegedly preaching hate. I won’t comment on either movie here, except to note that faith-based genre films comprise a bigger presence in pop culture than Christian cultural warriors seem to realize. And that presence is expanding, not contracting. Sony Pictures, for example, has opened an entire division dedicated to Christian films, such as its most recent “Heaven Is For Real.” The movies have built-in box office power because whole churches, schools and youth groups purchase tickets en masse.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 11, 2018 @ 8:11 pm

Why would one want to counter the messages on the shirts?

Because they are trite, stupid, imprecise, and you never know exactly what they really mean because they are full of weasel words.

only fools think muslims arent on board with the culture

Only fools think ________ are all alike. (But I will testify that the Salam School in Milwaukee fields an excellent chess team).

If “A Wrinkle in Time” was done at all close to the book, it couldn’t be antitheistic.

#11 Comment By MikeS On March 11, 2018 @ 8:18 pm

DRK: “I’m curious, how do readers on this blog start teaching their toddlers about religion?” When mine were toddlers, I bought a pack of Bible story picture cards, with a picture of the Bible story on one side and a simple version of the text on the other. I would read the text while they looked at the picture. I thought it did a good job of familiarizing them with the stories. You can get material like this at many publishers. (When they were older, I would read them the actual biblical text. We didn’t do games or cartoons).

#12 Comment By grumpy realist On March 11, 2018 @ 8:36 pm

Anne–actually, if you poke around at the reviews of A Wrinkle in Time on the web, one complaint that came out over and over again (even from most liberal reviewers) is that the religion had been stripped out of the movie and Madeleine L’Engle’s sincere Christianity (in the book) had been watered down into New Age pap and a handful of insipid affirmations. NOT of course helped by the heavy Disneyfication and gee-whiz CGI overlay. Plus just looking at the trailer you can already tell that Disney was thinking of marketing potential and the future income stream of selling tee-shirts and cups with “Be a Warrior!” plastered on them. (At least Disney hasn’t managed to trademark the phrase–I looked.)

I’ve given up on Disney movies and US movies in general. There’s more sincerity and religious feeling in any one of the Poirot series out of the U.K. than in the entire Disney pantheon.

#13 Comment By Tom D On March 11, 2018 @ 9:25 pm

Yeah, so what? In neither case is the message on those t-shirts offensive or nasty, whether you agree or disagree with it.

#14 Comment By JD Ryan On March 11, 2018 @ 11:02 pm

Yeah, those horrible children, hoping people will be tolerant and respectful of others. The nerve! What is the world coming to?

Someone give Dreher his smelling salts.

#15 Comment By VikingLS On March 12, 2018 @ 12:00 am

“Why would one want to counter the messages on the shirts?”

Stop trying to steal the spotlight from women and minorities by trying to make yourself, a white man, the hero of their story. How DARE you do that?

#16 Comment By whocares On March 12, 2018 @ 12:35 am

“Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you can just be quiet?”

I guess Thumper was the original SJW.

[1]

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

I blame Bambi for this whole mess we’re in, but I’m sure liberals will blame the hunter.

#17 Comment By Funbud On March 12, 2018 @ 9:30 am

One of my favorite tee shirts back in the ’90s said “Christ is Coming! Look Busy!”

I loved that shirt. I wore it all the time although it led to at least one long discussion with an earnest Christian who didn’t get the joke.

#18 Comment By Jared On March 12, 2018 @ 11:04 am

I really take issue with this post, because it is an apples-to-oranges argument. He starts out arguing that T-shirts are a sign of the times that culture knows what it is doing while arguing that a single secondary product (not even another T-shirt), is foolishness. Does he not realize that culture gains the power it has because it enters every aspect of life? From shirts to stickers to coloring books to comic books, culture makes itself felt and known. If we are not going to do the same for our children, they’ll be toast.

In my family we use every item we can to flood them with Scripture and theological strength. We use the Bible itself, devotionals, comics (if you do not know what the Power Bible is, you should really look it up), toys, the church, worship, music (though not the mainstream mediocre garbage-heap of “modern Christian music”), coloring books, and whatever else we can get our hands on. We are not liturgical by upbringing, but we are trying to figure out how to do it in our family.

My point is, things like “My Pretty Pink Bible Sticker Purse,” are not a sign of the fall of Christianity, but just another bolt or screw to put into a small child’s life to help make faith and the Bible something they love and enjoy. We started out with Children’s Bibles for our kids. Now my 9-year-old is reading a full-on New King James and my 5-year-old put his down to take a 4-versions-in-one Bible to Bible class. They still like the children’s Bibles, but they are naturally choosing the bigger things because they have learned to love that which was appropriate for them at the time. We need to allow room for that growth to happen, or they it is very likely they will feel as though their faith was forced upon them, rather than something they chose as they grew up. It is part of leading them into the faith rather than coercing them.

Anyway, sorry for the long response on this. I am just of the belief that we should be using everything possible to flood our kids with a culture built around the faith, rather than poo-pooing things just because they’re not what *we* want.

#19 Comment By Linda Bronkar On March 12, 2018 @ 11:59 am

Tim Challies had this link in his A la Carte this morning and you are mentioned near the end of the article. Very good piece. [2]

#20 Comment By Will Harrington On March 12, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

MikeCA

The problem with promoting tolerance is that tolerance is neither a virtue or a vice. It is neutral and whether it is good or bad depends entirely on what is tolerated. Turning tolerance itself into a virtue in and of itself is, well, misguided, at best.

#21 Comment By Sam M On March 12, 2018 @ 2:40 pm

Collin:

You have an interest in PA 18? Cool. If the Republicans are supposed to learn lessons from their struggles, though, perhaps Democrats should learn lessons from their success. Seems fair.

Conor Lamb is the Democrat in the race. He is a tough-on-crime prosecutor, former Marine, who has carried on quite a bit about how much he loves shooting machine guns. Post Parkland, he publicly stated that he would resist a ban on assault weapons. Here is his priority page. See a lot of LGBT stuff there?

[3]

He spends a good bit of time in all his stump speeches distancing himself from Nancy Pelosi.

Maybe Republicans aren’t the only ones who should look to PA 18 for winning and losing strategies.

#22 Comment By David J. White On March 12, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

Why would one want to counter the messages on the shirts?

1) “Love is love is love” is so fatuous as to meaningless, which ought to be pointed out to those who mistake it for actual profound thought.

“Love is love is love”? I recently watched the recent dramatization about the 1993 Branch Dividian incident at Waco. (I visited the site last week.). David Koresh felt that he had a mandate to marry underage girls, as well as have children with the wives of some of his followers. In many instances they apparently went along willingly. Love is love is love?

2) Who gets to decide what is “racist, sexist, homophobic, wnd transphobic”? Those who disagree with wearers of the shirts have a right to express their opinions as well. The wearers of the shirts don’t have a right to live in a society where they never have to hear anything they disagree with.

#23 Comment By William Dalton On March 12, 2018 @ 6:43 pm

“Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you can just be quiet?”

What makes them think the racists, sexists, etc. aren’t the quiet ones? Their cultural despisers certainly seem to be the most vocal.

#24 Comment By aaal On March 12, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Hungary and Poland are veering into some variety of fascism. Russia and the Stans are corrupt autocracies and Russia has committed acts of war against the UK and the US. Meanwhile we are supposed to believe that a cute pink purse designed to introduce young children to the Bible and tee shirts urging tolerance are going to end us all. Perhaps the problem is more with a cultural conservatism that has a degenerate moral compass then Enlightenment liberalism.

Yes, please do head for the hills, don’t vote, and just spend the rest of your lives enjoying the benefits of the liberal democracy the rest of us will happily provide you.

#25 Comment By Gretchen On March 12, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

I hate going into the toy aisle, and everything for girls is that dayglo pink. Boys can like all the colors, but girls can like any color they want as long as it’s pink. They even have little pink brooms and dustpans so they learn their place early. Is there some objection to just presenting kids with toys of all colors and types and letting them figure out what they like?

#26 Comment By Gretchen On March 12, 2018 @ 11:17 pm

I’m not clear on why the T-shirt’s are objectionable and what would be preferable. Both are « Don’t hate gay people or people who are different from you. ». So would « I hate gay people » be preferable, or are young people supposed to be aware that gay people exist or care how they are treated?

[NFR: What do you take me for, a Billy Goat Gruff? — RD]

#27 Comment By BadReligion On March 13, 2018 @ 9:37 am

“Stop trying to steal the spotlight from women and minorities by trying to make yourself, a white man, the hero of their story. How DARE you do that?”

I did not.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 13, 2018 @ 11:42 am

So would « I hate gay people » be preferable, or are young people supposed to be aware that gay people exist or care how they are treated?

I’d prefer “LGBTQ Ain’t All That.” Only, nobody wears a t-shirt about what ain’t all that. They ignore it. Nothing cries for benign neglect like LGBTQ. Should the police stay out of their bedroom? Check. Should they be able to work at any job for which they are competent regardless of what they like to do in the privacy of their bedroom, or with whom? Check. Are all states issuing them civil marriage licenses, albeit the judicial reasoning that speeded this up was quite sloppy? Check. Now go away, we have important issues to deal with in the public square.

Is there some objection to just presenting kids with toys of all colors and types and letting them figure out what they like?

None. One of my favorite children’s books is called Red is Best. Its about a girl who likes everything red.

Hungary and Poland are veering into some variety of fascism.

I remember my mother, a lifelong Republican, remarking circa 1991, “Take the lid off Romania and what pops out? The Iron Cross.”

The problem with promoting tolerance is that tolerance is neither a virtue or a vice.

Hear! Hear! And, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘I don’t like the sound of that word. I don’t want anyone to tolerate me. I want my rights under the constitution.’

I’ve given up on Disney movies and US movies in general.

“Nightjohn” and “Queen of Katwe” were both very good. (The former is at least 20 years old). These may be diamonds buried in a lot of muck, but diamonds they are.

VikingLS’s sardonic humor seems to have entirely escaped BadReligion. Which is too bad, because it was on point, and the ability to laugh at yourself is a hallmark of political maturity. Not sure whether Barack Obama really said “When I moved to Chicago I learned that I was black, and have remained so thereafter,” but it’s a good line.

#29 Comment By BadReligion On March 13, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

“VikingLS’s sardonic humor seems to have entirely escaped BadReligion. Which is too bad, because it was on point, and the ability to laugh at yourself is a hallmark of political maturity.”

Oh no, I got it. I just responded in the deadpan style, the way that I usually do.

#30 Comment By David J. White On March 13, 2018 @ 8:44 pm

Dear Siarlys,

You made made the same point that I tried to make. But you made it more concisely, more elegantly, and, I think, with more grace.

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 13, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

I rest my case.

#32 Comment By David J. White On March 14, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

“The problem with promoting tolerance is that tolerance is neither a virtue or a vice.”

Hear! Hear! And, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘I don’t like the sound of that word. I don’t want anyone to tolerate me. I want my rights under the constitution.’

I understand Dr. King’s point, but the problem is that the end point of “tolerance is not enough” seems to be “you’d better give enthusiastic approval, or else!”

Yes, all people ought be able to exercise their rights under the Constitution and be left alone to do so. I would argue that that is what “tolerance” is.

I believe that people in this country have a right not to like other people, or want to associate with them privately, for any reason or none. No, that doesn’t translate into a right to discriminate or get around the law. But people have a right, in their private lives, not to like or want to be around other people if they don’t want to, aside from situations involving law or business, where Constitutional rights apply.

Letting other people do what they want in their own lives and exercise their rights under the Constitution is “tolerance.”

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 15, 2018 @ 11:23 am

A lot of the cognitive dissonance would go away if we can simply reaffirm that the constitution is, and has been since its inception, a jurisdictional document, not laundry list of good and bad.

Congress has authority to regulate interstate commerce. It does not have authority to regulate private, voluntary associations. Thus, nondiscrimination laws with regard to purchase or sale of a home, retail sales, wholesale distribution, and a host of other commercial transactions, have been upheld as constitutionally acceptable. Dictating membership criteria to a private voluntary association that is not commercial in character is not within the power of congress.

Religion is explicitly distinguished from almost any state exercise of power — which is why Frank Bruni showed himself to be such a fatuous ignoramous when he propounded that churches should be MADE to change their doctrine to accord with a political trend.

Its not really hard to sort this stuff out. It just takes a little attention to real distinctions.

#34 Comment By Brian in Brooklyn On March 15, 2018 @ 1:10 pm

An informative article on toleration can be found at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

[4]

I have found great value in the entire site.