Hold the Culture Wars, Please

Two stories from this morning’s local paper illustrate the just plain silliness of the culture wars.

First, a Republican state senator has introduced a bill that would require that the national anthem be played before any sporting event that takes place in a venue supported by tax dollars. Never mind that nobody is talking about not playing the anthem at any game where it has customarily been played. Whatever happened to Republicans who believed that government should do as little as possible?

And Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) apparently didn’t think through all the implications. Does he really want to insist that somebody find a boom box and play the Star Spangled Banner before every pick up softball game at a local park?

Testin’s goofy bill is just an attempt to fire another shot in the culture wars. It was prompted, apparently, by Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban, who ordered that the anthem not be played before Maverick’s games. Cuban, an incurable grandstander, was using the anthem controversy he created to gain attention for himself. (A pox on his house, as well.) But in any event, Cuban surrendered when the NBA ordered him to have the anthem played. Talk about your non-issues.

Next, a committee of the Dane County Board has revived a resolution opposing the siting of a group of F-35 fighter jets at Madison’s Truax Field. Never mind that the Air Force has already decided that they are coming and the board has no authority in the matter.

Now, in this case, there are some valid concerns about the noise of the new jets, but that issue has been studied to death and there are some mitigation steps that can be taken. My guess is that when the fighters show up in 2023 and settle in nobody will notice.

Almost a year ago, the county board, wisely, decided to let the resolution sit without taking it up. Now, some members of the board have decided to try to revive it, for no apparent reason, except to play to a base that hates the whole F-35 project and the military it represents.

Sup. Jeremy Levin was a voice of reason on a resolution opposing F-35s that will come to Truax Field regardless of any action by the county board.

Credit 10th District Sup. Jeremy Levin for having the good sense to be the only member of the committee to vote against the resolution. He noted that other board committees have had months to take up the resolution and have declined. “I think it tells you where else this is going, and it’s nowhere,” Levin said.

So, in two ill-advised pieces of legislation we have polar opposites united in insanity. One would push a nationalistic ‘love it or leave it’ kind of blind patriotism while the other represents a kind of dogged opposition to all things military, never mind that it’s a dangerous world out there. Both efforts are fools’ errands looking to solve problems that don’t exist or change decisions that are already behind us.

Let’s reward serious politicians who want to solve real problems, not those who just want to waste our time in meaningless culture war skirmishes.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Hold the Culture Wars, Please

  1. Life must be great when you’re as sheltered as Dave is. Tell us this: When you were mayor, did you venture much to the east of Blair Street? The folks living in Carpenter-Ridgeway, Hawthorne, Darbo-Worthington and Reindahl Park are not in this fight against the F-35s because they are anti-military and the mitigation you mention in passing will not work for them unless their landlords choose to pursue it. Because the city did almost nothing about affordable housing, the state of the housing market in Madison means there is zero motivation for them to do so. I’m guessing you didn’t spend much time in those parts of the city (not many voters or donors there), but they deserve to have their elected officials fighting for their quality of life, too. Much like yours fights against, uhhhhh, football field lights at Edgewood.


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