The Culture Crusades

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

We’re in the post mortem stage of the recent battle over the Susan G Komen Foundation and their contributions to Planned Parenthood.  As is predictable in how these skirmishes occur, the pro-choice forces supporting Planned Parenthood were quite ready for their successful counteroffensive, and had from the beginning decided to send a message to other charities who may consider de-coupling from working with the organization.

They had also made it clear from their initial offensive launched Thursday morning that their trophy would be the scalp of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.  Handel resigned Tuesday – accepting no severance from the non-profit – so that the Komen organization may resume its mission in the way it sees fit.

The curious note from this episode involves a charge that is of a pot and kettle variety.  When Planned Parenthood released their talking points, chief among them was that they were shocked and disappointed that Komen would politicize their mission by having the gall to stop giving to one of the most polarizing organizations in this country.

The reality is that Komen chose to politicize the issue the day it made the unfortunate decision to partner with Planned Parenthood, and they were aware of it.  One of the reasons they reached out to Handel was to get a better understanding of problems they were having not only with fundraising, but also due to delivery issues because of their entanglement with Planned Parenthood.

The amount of money was small, but raw dollars and percentages are irrelevant when battling over “single issues”.  “It’s the principle” is not only a rallying cry, but a reason to stop debate and discussion.  And in the process, if a well meaning third party charitable organization must be held hostage or even destroyed while others use them as their battleground then so be it.

The faux righteous indignation from the left over the “politicization” of Komen rings hollow in the shock and surprise that a charity would be used for the purposes of the right, when the left was clearly making a much bigger and more widely orchestrated issue in their pushback than pro-life forces had been doing previously.

Further, causes near and dear to the left have not stopped them from preying upon private service organizations for politicization to advance their cause.  Anyone who thinks otherwise should have a long conversation with the Boy Scouts and the funding issues they faced over their exclusions regarding homosexuality.

Now, the Girl Scouts are likely to be pulled into this discussion if a cursory review of Facebook is a leading indicator.  Those upset with Komen’s reversal are posting a lot of informational links to the Girl Scout’s ties to Planned Parenthood.  One more organization with a stellar record of civic added value is poised to become yet another battleground for those who always need stalking horses to advance the culture crusades.

Unfortunately, the battle is not just within private organizations where individuals can decide where to donate their time and money and where they will not.  We now have a President who will tell the audience at a prayer breakfast that Jesus is for tax hikes, but that the Catholic Church needs to get over itself and its opposition to birth control.  Meanwhile, the party of limited government seems to be ready and willing to wage its national primary as much on government involvement in social issues as it is on “taxed enough already” fiscal issues.

The point here is not to illustrate which side is right nor which is wrong.  Ideological extremes without actual debate and discussion rarely serve the best interests of the citizenry.  The point is that those who advance them unchecked and undisciplined are doing little more than engage in a modern version of the crusades that lasted for centuries in the middle ages yet ultimately accomplished little.

Those on the far right will read this, know that they are right, and dismiss any criticism mention here as irrelevant to the battles which they must win because they are right.  Those on the far left will read this, know that they are right, and dismiss any criticism mentioned here as irrelevant to battles they must win because they are right.  Those in the middle will remain uninfluenced, wonder why we spend so much time battling over these things, and go back to trying to figure out how we reduce unemployment, afford the next tank of gas, and keep their or their neighbor’s house from being foreclosed on.

Hearts and minds are not won by exertion of brute force.  Those advancing an agenda of social issues will not win by takeover of new territory with submission of conquered subjects.  Using a scorched earth policy to use charities as proxies for social crusades may embolden those who are on the extremes, but turns off those in the middle who would like to see reasonable solutions.

All sides, as well as those in the middle, are losing in the current culture crusades.


  1. Cassandra says:

    In politics, loyalty and friendship are truly rare. I commend your loyal support of your friend.

    “Handel resigned Tuesday – accepting no severance from the non-profit – so that the Komen organization may resume its mission in the way it sees fit.”

    It always gets down to the bucks.

    One way to look at refusing a severance package is that no gag rule provisions are imposed upon the person who resigned, thus allowing free speech on this matter down the line.

    Politico reports:

    In particular, a writer at The Nation had back-handed praise for Handel, saying that her exit strategy was reflective of “evil brilliance.”

    “Handel’s very public resignation letter shows a political acumen and sophisticated grasp of cultural narrative,” wrote Ilyse Hogue. “We’ve not heard the last of Karen Handel. And when she surfaces to tell her story, people should remember: she’s not the victim, she’s a sophisticated political operator who may have gotten exactly what she wants.”

    Read more:

    Whatever organization leans to the Right of Heritage Foundation may have found their next EVP of Advocacy.

  2. >>”As is predictable in how these skirmishes occur, the pro-choice forces supporting Planned Parenthood were quite ready for their successful counteroffensive”

    I think Komen’s core problem isn’t pro-choice Planned Parenthood supporters who won a “skirmish.” I think their problem is pro-choice Komen supporters who are angry that – let’s put this diplomatically – an organization they support took a position they don’t support.

    • John Vestal says:

      This ↑. I tried to touch on a similar point a few days ago, in that I feel like the way this issue ultimately played out has a lot to do with the various advocacies involved (breast cancer, women’s health, pro-choice, anti-abortion, etc..), how they overlap and to what degree.

    • John Konop says:

      In my opinion this is about the social conservative movement overreaching. The country has become less homophobic, pro contraception, against rape victims being forced to have kids, pro ivi……… The GOP has to stop being the angry white man party and open up the umbrella. If not the core support will die off over time.

      In my opinion Karen got caught in time warp change………

      • Baker says:

        Konop- I agree for the most part. The GOP must be more accepting of gays. One way to do this which everyone should be in favor of is for GOP leaning states to at the very least put civil unions on the ballot. Gay marriage might fail but I think civil unions would pass in a huge majority of places. That certainly wouldn’t be the end of it (and I’m personally not against gay marriage), but that would be a way for the GOP to not be on the negative all the time.

        Anyways, this issue specifically is not about contraception (and the issue that is about that is a church v state issue which is a separate argument). It’s about abortion. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t Karen Handel against banning abortion in the case of rape? Is that not why the GRTL refused to endorse/okay her? And wasn’t Komen considering this before Karen even got involved with them?

        • John Konop says:


          You are making my point Karen got thrown into the extreme elements of the social conservative movement. I told Democrat and independent friends of mine that Becker from GRL was ripping Karen even after this situation. Most could not believe it, and they would just lump it all together.

          Clinton had the same issue with the Jessie Jackson side of his party and will all remember the infamous sister soldier moment…… is time for the younger rational side of the GOP you represent to step up and say enough is enough. The older side with the craziness makes it hard for business people like me to associate with the GOP. We are fiscally conservative, and as far as business the only race, sex…….we see is green in the business world.

          I have done business for years and have friends who are Muslim, gay, libertarian, democrat, republican……………this us verse them crap is killing our country.

          It is very clear with the new purity test,people like me are not on the welcome list at the GOP anymore. This is why turnout sucks this primary, the extremist are creating allot of independents. I do business all over the country and I cannot tell you how many people I know who are old time regular GOP voters and have had it.

          • Baker says:

            I’m not sure what exactly is covered on the “purity test”. There is a difference between disagreeing with the GRTL and being pro-Planned Parenthood. This is definitely a sympton of the two-party system. The choice is either to abandon ship, or to stay in there and try and influence. I think the GRTL lost some credibility with Repubs over the Karen Handel situation.

            The most extreme elements will often be the loudest thanks to the media (particularly so for the extreme right since the media wants to portray the whole right as a bunch of loons). If the media was concerned about really getting to the bottom of things, more independents and Dems would understand the difference between Handel and the GRTL.

            Cross your fingers and hope Rick Santorum doesn’t get too much more traction.

  3. I’m just happy that this skirmmish took place in the private sector, where it belongs and not on the floor of our Legislative body in deciding what to use our in-voluntary donations/tax dollars for, where it doesn’t belong.

    Now, if we could only get the rest of Healthcare out of gov and into private businesses and private charity organizations…. where voting with your dollar and 1st amendment guaranteed voice works much better and efficient and preserves freedom of choice.

  4. CobbGOPer says:

    Gotta love social wedge issues. We all fight, distracted while the politicians take and spend our money.

    Priorities, people. We’ll get to abortion when we’ve resolved the 10,000 other more important problems we’ve got as a nation.

    Of course, in the culture wars we also have the problem of the non-profit industrial complex, wherein these people need to perpetuate and exacerbate the issues for which their organizations were founded in order to maintain their funding and keep themselves employed. Just drive around DC, Arlington, and Alexandria and try to count the endless ‘Associations’ doing issue advocacy for everything from abortion to underwater basket-weaving. We need to start realizing that most of these organizations are simply empty suits, scaring people into donating so they can keep getting a paycheck.

    • jiminga says:

      “Priorities, people. We’ll get to abortion when we’ve resolved the 10,000 other more important problems we’ve got as a nation.” It is despicable that you believe a million dead babies each year doesn’t even register on your list of problems. We can assume the TSPLOST takes precedent with you.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        I don’t really consider clumps of cells that could not survive outside the woman’s body to be a “baby,” but you keep selling that tired line. Not to mention that I’m not interested in all the extra tax dollars I’ll have to spend to take care of all the unwanted babies you’d like to force women to have, who will end up in the care of social services.

      • CobbGOPer says:

        And I can assume that social conservative issues take precedence with you. It’s people like you that help these crooks steal our money when no one is looking, because you’re too busy trying to tell other people how to live their lives.

  5. David C says:

    On the Catholic Church and contraception, please. The Administration is not telling “the Catholic Church to get over itself and its opposition to birth control.” (The laity might be, but that’s another story.) All it did was reasonably distinguish between an actual church and Notre Dame, or Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The former is clearly a religious institution, the latter two are not. My Presbyterian father, when he was dying of cancer, was treated by a Hindu oncologist and a Baptist nurse at that hospital. There wasn’t a Catholic among us, and it would have been wrong to hold us to the Church’s standards on end-of-life care or other culture war issues. Despite its Jesuit origins, only 40% of Georgetown’s student body is Catholic. We all agree the Church is fine in within its rights not to hire female Priests, but the hospital or school would be wrong to explicitly not hire a capable woman Doctor or Professor solely due to her gender. The administration policy just makes the same distinction the rest of the law does.

    • KD_fiscal conservative says:

      I completely agree with you from a moral and religious standpoint, but I think the biggest issue here is that the federal government is requiring employers to give out free birth control. How is THAT OK??

      • David C says:

        Well, it’s not free: It’s part of an insurance plan for the hospital / university’s employees. Like most employer insurance plans, it takes the place of wages that would otherwise be paid to the employee. The employer and employee both benefit because they get to pool their coverage with the rest of the employees at the hospital, sharing risk and diversifying the coverage pool rather than scrounging for something on the individual market. The employee’s insurance plan costs less, and the employer gets a happier employee, and its costs are less than what they would otherwise pay an employee to use to get on the individual market.

        • NoTeabagging says:

          If a religious based organization offers health insurance with a certain menu of benefits that does not mean everyone subscribing to the plan will take advantage of all the benefits, ex: contraceptives. Everyone has the right to use or refuse medical options based on their own moral beliefs.

          I also am not sure the government mandate requires ‘free birth control’, surely there are co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions?

          Personally, I am pro choice, but I do not believe federal funds or programs should pay for ‘voluntary’ abortions. I would allow coverage for medically necessary procedures or situations of stress.

          I was appalled by the elenth hour standoff between Dems and Repub over opposite views on abortion coverage in Health Care Reform. I did not like either side pushing the extremes of full ban or full coverage under a government plan.

    • David C,
      Just for discussion and a chance for others to hear something possibly different from what they’ve heard before…. why should religious institutions get to exercise a right that a private business doesn’t get too?…. or better yet, why should a private business be forbidden to exercise a right (hire/fire whomever they want), while government protects that same right for any other institution?

      The problem with discrimination (other than being asinine when based on gender, race or hair color) was that it was mandated by laws and enforced by the authorities at one time. Forcing integration is just as limiting in choice and liberty.

      It’s funny how most see no problem in allowing girls only schools, boys only schools, co-ed schools and just about every variety of religious and non-religious schools to exist at the same time…. but not be able to see that variety and choice would be a great thing in every aspect of society.

      So if the racist, bigoted, homophobic, black hair only people want to have a hospital… so be it… they’ll go out of business if they think they’ll ever get a dime from me… but from a true free society standpoint, nothing “legislatively” should be done to keep them from existing (lesson in a real “free market”).

      From my libertarian view, not letting the Racist, bigoted, homophobic, black hair only folks have their hospital is once again government backed discrimination… and therefore wrong.

      (ps. The discussion above is meant for private institutions/businesses and not government employment or facilities…. yes, there is and should be a different standard applied to it).

      • David C says:

        I would say the difference between the church and the private business is that we have a first amendment that explicitly protects religious institutions on constitutional grounds, and we don’t for business. As to the larger issue, no, discrimination’s problem wasn’t just that it was codified. It was just as much cultural–a neighborhood association or landlord or bus company or hotel or hospital or restaurant could say “no blacks” without ever codifying it into law. Part of freedom isn’t just freedom from the state, but also freedom from predation by non-state actors, be they, say, a monopoly thwarted by antitrust law or cultural discrimination thwarted by nondiscrimination laws and the like. Freedom is not just from government, it can also be aided and enforced by government, as was most certainly the case during the Civil Rights movement.

    • saltycracker says:

      Was the Doc hired for diversity, appearances or because they were looking for the best available oncologist ?

  6. saltycracker says:

    “All sides, as well as those in the middle, are losing in the current culture crusades.”

    And we should not use one dime of our tax dollars in the crusades.

  7. Jane says:

    There is a hypocracy in organizations and Churches for that matter that try to have it both ways. As a socially conservative Methodist, I know the Discipline is strongly pro-life and moderatly conservative on issues of homosexuality. The church does this to appease the church members who are by and large right of Center. On the other hand, the Methodist colleges in Georgia tend to be farly liberal almost radical as the Church tries to change to meet the cultural demands of the children of white elites at Emory and feminists at Weslyan. People on both sides are waking up to the janus like behavior of Churches and Charities who try to have everything both ways.

  8. NoTeabagging says:

    Recollection in the Boy scout funding brouhaha. Part of uproar came from the United Way donations to boy scouts. Similar situation: Big Org funds small org part of big budget. Those opposing some of United Way’s beneficiaries simply stopped donating to United Way. Then UW had another PR problem when it was revealed their CEO got an outrageous salary and perks, way out of line for a ‘not for profit’ organization relying on donations from average citizens.

  9. Dave Bearse says:

    This columns states that right and left share the blame for politicization affecting Komen. It’s spin, that it’s a little more the left’s responsibility, merits rebuttal.

    “The reality is that Komen chose to politicize the issue the day it made the unfortunate decision to partner with Planned Parenthood, and they were aware of it.”

    I don’t think the Komen organization’s views concerning abortion services have changed much over the years. There probably was opposition, but it wasn’t politicized, when Komen first made grants to PP years ago. Komen grants to PP were Komen seeking to best fulfill its mission. It’s so-cons that politicized Komen grants in it’s politicization of PP.

    Komen inevitably was going to be damaged in deciding to disconintue grants to PP. What is debatable is whether Handel did a good job mitigating damage to Komen. The reason Komen offered up, a change in policy prohibiting grants to organizations under investigation, and it’s implementation, ostensibly were Handel’s responsibility. It’s stretching the imagination to think that Handel counseled against the policy and its implementation, but that Komen proceeded with it anyway. Hindsight isn’t required to comprehend that the new policy and its implementation were an inept sham. Handel had months and didn’t bother to vet the affect of the policy on other Komen grantees, such as Penn State and Harvard, there were under investigation. And it was clear that Komen in the wake of a defective Plan A, had no Plan B, another circumstance not reflecting well on Handel.

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