A Seductive Tale of Origins

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A recent article by historian Randall Balmer making the rounds of social media presents a useful, and for some seductive, counterpoint to the standard narrative of the Culture Wars and abortion. The gist of the article is the unmasking of the ideological interests generating the opposition to abortion, particularly the fear of interference in segregated private religious schools in the aftermath of public school desegregation. Whatever an individual’s feelings about abortion or the role of conservative religious groups in contemporary politics, the article’s title, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right,” alone should give one pause, based on the critiques of rhetoric that we have been presenting at Culture on the Edge. The language of “real origins” suggests the construction of a narrative to promote a particular vision of the world, not simply a description of what happened. The line following the title doubles down on this. “They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.” Continue reading “A Seductive Tale of Origins”