Jonah Goldberg

If you're not with us, you're against us. President Bush popularized this expression after 9/11 to describe his foreign policy doctrine: Countries couldn't support or indulge terrorists and be our friends at the same time. But his detractors quickly turned it into a fairly paranoid vision of domestic political life, as if Bush had been talking about domestic opponents and dissenters.

The irony is that few worldviews better describe the general liberal orientation to public policy and the culture war. The left often complains about the culture war as if it's a war they don't want to fight. They insist they just want to follow "sound science" or "what works" when it comes to public policy, but those crazy knuckle-dragging right-wingers constantly want to talk about gays and abortion and other hot-button issues.

It's all a farce. Liberals are the aggressors in the culture war (and not always for the worse, as the civil rights movement demonstrates). What they object to isn't so much the government imposing its values on people -- heck, they love that. They see nothing wrong with imposing their views about diet, exercise, sex, race and the environment on Americans. What outrages them is resistance, or even non-compliance with their agenda. "Why are you making such a scene?" progressives complain. "Just do what we want and there will be no fuss."

Consider President Obama's decision to require most religious institutions -- including Catholic hospitals, schools, etc. -- to pay for contraception, sterilizations and the "morning after" pill. When "ObamaCare" was still being debated, the White House had all but promised Catholic leaders that it would find a compromise to spare the church from the untenable position of paying for services that directly violate their faith. Now that ObamaCare is the law, the administration says the church, like everyone else, must fall in line.

Or consider the still-raging controversy over the Susan G. Komen For the Cure's entirely reasonable -- albeit very poorly handled -- decision to withdraw its funding of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider. The Komen foundation is singularly dedicated to raising research money for, and awareness about, breast cancer. It's the folks with those pink ribbons. The organization decided to withdraw its comparatively meager funding in part because Planned Parenthood doesn't offer mammograms. (Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, was caught misleading people on this very point last spring.)


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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