Your old-world grandmother will refuse to believe it. Your Southern cousin will likely shake his head like he's throwing off lice, completely unwilling to process. Rick Santorum will, with any luck and God's good graces, spontaneously combust. And of course, the NRA will shudder and reload in a panic because, honey, they're afraid of everything.
It does not matter. Let the reactions come, the paranoia ensue, the bitter ashes of past injustices dissipate into the wind. For lo, a raft of hard-fought -- and fairly radical -- cultural changes hath finally come, and the changes are good and the changes are righteous and the changes, as MLK knew and your Republican friends are loathe to admit, are toward the progressive and the just. You know, just like always.
Perhaps you've heard? Perhaps you've noticed? The infamous "culture wars" officially declared in the Reagan era and then hissed forth through the years by everyone from George W. Bush to Rick Warren, the Tea Party to groupthink megachurches, Rush Limbaugh's giant mouth to Bill O'Reilly's sad little book, Palin and Bachmann and Karl Rove, too, all ultimately landing with an inglorious splat on poor Rick "please don't Google my last name" Santorum's head, the culture wars of yore are essentially over.
And the Republicans lost.
The culture wars! What a silly idea. What a ridiculous and lopsided fight. All about gay marriage, women's rights, pornography, censorship, "elitist" higher education, support for the arts, for science, immigration, the environment, legal marijuana, gays in the military, a black president, self-determined spirituality versus the deep poison that is organized religion.
The culture wars! Been around for ages, but most recently determined to mean constricted, God-fearing, red state "family values" versus "immoral" '60-style open-mindedness, all spinning off the timeless argument that the moral fabric of this great nation would surely be shredded to bits if too many Americans were allowed to have a free abortion after enjoying joyful sodomy in church with their college-educated gay husband's blasphemous public sculpture that looks like a freedom-loving handgun shaped like a recreational vagina. Or something.
Evidence of the GOP's glorious, ongoing loss? Everywhere and palpable. Gay marriage, to the vast majority of the nation and certainly to nearly everyone under 30, is a foregone and no-big-deal conclusion. Gays are now allowed to serve openly in the military and attend military academies (though not, of course, in the NFL), and now we hear that women have just been given the OK to serve in combat, too, which of course means we are all doomed -- because as everyone knows, women are too weak and easy to rape, and gays just want to have sex with the enemy.
But never mind that now, because even the numbly prejudiced Boy Scouts are, at the behest of at least a few very powerful, wealthy donors/members, reconsidering their hateful ban on gays. Can you hear that? It's the avidly bigoted South, losing cultural traction by the second.
Would you look at immigration reform? Suddenly back on the table like a Frankenstein monster getting struck by a miracle bolt of lightning, all due to the fact that the GOP just realized if they don't try to make nice with the new multicultural majority that spanked them so hard in the 2012 election, they'll vanish faster than an ice shelf in Greenland.
On it goes. From environmental awareness to legal pot to abortion rights, movement is toward the progressive -- or at the very least, away from the regressive (not quite the same thing, but in this climate, you take what you can get). Even many leading Republicans don't want to discuss the classic cultural issues that defined them for so long, recognizing them as toxic to their future, realizing that the younger generations simply don't believe in the harsh institutions and repressive dogmas of yore.
They know the nation has changed. Immigrants and women dominate anew, rural values are metamorphosing, gay culture is here to stay, the gun debate is back in play thanks to far too many dead children, the church is sour and impotent, you don't fuck with Planned Parenthood, the arts are still thriving (well mostly), sexuality is more unfettered and experimental, for better and worse.
Do not misunderstand. It is far from a complete or perfect victory. Many battles remain, many ugly shards will slice at the veins of the culture for years to come.
Women may be succeeding like never before, but many steadfastly backwards states (hi, Mississippi) and even U.S. congressmen are so antagonistic to women's rights they might as well be Saudi Arabia. Gays may be gaining in every category, but hate crimes persist and the church's nasty homophobia is more entrenched than the Vatican's secret fetish dungeon.
While the Catholic church has lost nearly all sway over American social mores (praise Jesus), its stranglehold on the uneducated third world is as oppressive and misogynistic as any time in 500 years. Backwards, anti-science thought persists throughout huge chunks of America. Even Marco Rubio, Florida's hotshot Republican and one of the "Gang of Eight" who designed the new, bipartisan immigration reform proposal, recently mouthed various idiocies about evolution and the "real" age of the Earth. You stay intellectual, Florida.
Oh, and the reason the younger generation care so much about the environment? It's not because they're all liberal tree huggers. It's because they have no choice; to this very day, no major nation has taken significant steps to prevent global warming and the ensuing catastrophe. Climate change is here. Mother Nature is furious. The culture war over the environment is insipid and irrelevant, blasted away by extreme hurricanes and death.
And of course, the South, despite flickers of progress in various college towns...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He's also a well-known E-RYT yoga instructor in San Francisco. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...