Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to Virtue War

Via Memeorandum, I see that San Francisco became the newest front in the culture war this weekend, as 25,000 evangelical teens blew into town to rally against the "virtue terrorism" of pop culture. The teens are part of a movement called "Battle Cry for a Generation," led by Teen Mania organizer Ron Luce—a Texas-based activist, author, and host of the "Acquire the Fire TV" cable program, who also happens to be a Bush appointee to a federal anti-drug-abuse commission. The two-day rally in San Francisco was the first stop in a three-city "reverse rebellion" that will move on to Detroit and Philadelphia and be followed by what Luce describes as the unleashing of a blitz of youth pastors into the communities to use the power of "'God's instruction book' to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture."

If the movement's verbiage—virtue terrorism, battle cry, acquire the fire, rebellion, blitz—all sounds a bit disconcertingly warlike to you, well, it's no mistake. Luce is a believer that Christians are at war in America.

"This is more than a spiritual war," Luce said. "It's a culture war."

Military metaphors abound in Luce's descriptions of the struggle. He tells young people of how "an enemy has launched a brutal attack on them." At a pre-Battle Cry rally Friday afternoon on the steps of City Hall, Luce told his mostly teenage audience that "terrorists of a different kind" -- advertisers -- were targeting them and that they were "caught in the middle of the battle."

"Are you ready to go to battle for your generation?" he asked, and the young people roared "yes!" and some waved triangular red flags flown from long, medieval-looking poles.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors officially condemned the rally, which is openly anti-choice and anti-gay, and counter-protestors deemed the "Battle Cry" event a "fascist mega-pep rally," which has drawn the ire of some conservative bloggers, who are pointing to it as proof of the Left's intolerance. To which I can only say, Guilty as charged. As a card-carrying progressive, I don't find the merest shred of obligation to be tolerant of people who have declared a war on me and my ideals, not the tiniest compulsion to accommodate hatemongering cast in a branded offensive, not an infinitesimal responsibility to engage in the semantic contortions required for me to pretend that progressives who seek to protect women's rights of autonomy and ensure equality for the LGBT community are of the same tenor as a group of asinine teens too foolish to question what, if advertisers are terrorists, does that make the man who sends them into the streets with identical signs marketing his website?

Being tolerant doesn't require that we demur to a group of people who "declare war" on us—something around which one would think the proponents of a doctrine of preemption would be able to wrap their minds.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who authored the condemnation resolution, said of the rally and its objectives, "Even if it is done by a Barnum & Bailey crowd with a tent and some snake oil, I think we need to pay attention to it. We should not fall asleep at the wheel." I couldn't agree more.

(Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK.)

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