Leftists Attack, Then Blame Responding Conservatives as Culture War Aggressors

Old dogs sometimes do learn new tricks. And President Joe Biden is so pleased with his latest attainment — criticizing Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for delaying military promotions over the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy — that he is showing it off just about everywhere. This month, Biden has bashed Tuberville’s courageous, one-man stand at a joint press conference with the president of Finland, a speech about “Bidenomics,” and a Civil Rights Symposium.

Tuberville, the president keeps insisting, is “jeopardizing our national security over domestic social issues.” Biden also suggested Tuberville was stubbornly refusing to negotiate, saying, “I’d be willing to talk to him [Tuberville] if I thought there was any possibility he would change his ridiculous position on this.”

Biden’s factually challenged attack doesn’t even approximate the spirit of the actual situation. “I’ve said all along, Tuberville wrote in June, “that I will drop my hold on unanimous consent under only two conditions: Democrats can follow the law or change the law.” In reality, the Biden administration is the party guilty of injecting domestic culture wars into the national security conversation, when last year it decided the Department of Defense (DOD) would cover abortion-related expenses, in violation of federal law. And the Biden administration is the party guilty of stubbornly refusing to modify its policy to allow military promotions to continue.

“All Tommy Tuberville is doing is standing up for the law,” remarked Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Yet Tuberville is the one under attack.

This is not an isolated phenomenon. Examples abound of left-wing ideologues blaming conservatives for culture wars started by the Left.

The ongoing controversy over PEPFAR reauthorization illustrates the same pattern. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is a successful, bipartisan program combatting HIV and AIDS among Africa’s poorest inhabitants. The program’s five-year, $30 million reauthorization expires in September, and pro-life groups are now urging against a straight reauthorization, without additional pro-life protections. Naturally, the Left is blaming conservatives for politicizing a previously bipartisan policy.

In a lengthy report, The Washington Post painted a dire picture, suggesting Republicans were jeopardizing the future of PEPFAR over “allegations that the program’s funding is being used to indirectly support abortions — claims that health advocates, Democrats and PEPFAR officials say are baseless.” The 54-paragraph article devotes three clauses to describing pro-life concerns with PEPFAR. Meanwhile, its “experts” allege that “it’s really about the larger politics around abortion, electoral politics, and the partisan divide,” “populism, nationalism, and polarization have undermined domestic collective action and solidarity,” and “it’s just dumbfounding to me that the charge has been taken seriously.” According to their narrative, pro-life stalwart Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is a villain who switched positions to oppose PEPFAR.

Whether it’s at The New York TimesPolitico, or Voice of America, the rest of the Democrats’ cheer squad is chanting in unison with this mischaracterization.

There’s more to the story they aren’t telling. In 2021, President Biden rescinded the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA), which opened the door for organizations that carry out or promote abortion to obtain PEPFAR funding. Then in September 2022, the State Department published a document titled, “Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction.” Under this strategic “reimagining” — on which Congress never voted — “PEPFAR will integrate HIV programming into strengthened public health systems to manage … sexual reproductive health, rights, and services ….” It would also “strengthen coordination between PEPFAR and other U.S. government global health and development programs, including for … sexual and reproductive health and rights … LGBTQI+, and human rights” (emphasis added). In other words, the Biden administration has unilaterally reinvented PEPFAR as a vehicle to promote abortion and its radical LGBT agenda.

Pro-life opposition to PEPFAR began after the State Department published it “reimagining” strategy. But the Left and the media are accusing pro-lifers of politicizing the issue.

Another controversy is over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual, must-pass bill to fund the military. The version passed by House Republicans included amendments which banned taxpayer funding of gender transition procedures, pornographic books in DOD schools, flying Pride flags on military property, and the creation or funding of DEI offices.

Yet again, Democrats depicted Republicans as culture war aggressors. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan responded that an “extreme group of Republicans” — the bill passed 219-210 with four Democrats voting in favor — had passed “a set of amendments that try to mix domestic social debates with … the security needs of our nation,” and that these amendments were “never getting to the president’s desk.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the House-passed NDAA “race to the bottom … partisan legislation that has zero chance of passing.” The Senate passed a version of the NDAA that includes none of these amendments, and the two chambers will have to iron out their differences in conference.

But one feature gives away the game: all of these Republican amendments aim to prohibit the military from doing things it shouldn’t be doing, and which for centuries it didn’t do. These amendments would have been meaningless 30 years ago when the military did none of these things. The Biden administration, aided by a Democrat-controlled Congress from 2021-2022, initiated, expanded, or un-moth-balled (from the Obama era) these policies. House Republicans are merely endeavoring to claw back a tiny fraction of the woke expansion.

And Republicans are taking fire for trying to restore normalcy in the military.

This pattern is not restricted to the federal government. In recent years, state legislators have acted to protect children from gender reassignment procedures and LGBT indoctrination in schools. They have enacted protections for women’s private spaces from male intrusion and women’s sports from male domination. They have protected conscience rights, official ID documentation, and curriculum from trans ideology. Each legislative measure responds to leftist aggression attempting to politicize and dominate a new aspect of life. As thanks, left-wing advocacy groups slander these state legislators, depicting them as hateful bigots who “attack LGBTQ rights.”

No, it’s LGBT ideologues who are attacking the very fabric of society.

Progressives expand the culture war into a new aspect of life, conservatives mobilize a response to restore normalcy, and the media behaves as if conservatives were the Mongol Horde of culture wars. Like naturally-occurring spirals or Fibonacci sequences, once this pattern is recognized, it suddenly begins to appear everywhere. The Left behaves like the child who punches his brother while mom’s back is turned, then pays his third sibling to tell his version of events.

Alas, this tripartite pattern should surprise no one who is acquainted with the meaning of the words “progressive” and “conservative,” and who is acquainted with the Left’s revolutionary roots. Swallowing false accusations is simply part of the price the defenders of civilization must pay. But it doesn’t mean that we have to shut our eyes to the fixed game the Left tries to play.

AUTHOR

Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

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