Everyone who normally or occasionally votes Republican knows that any candidate the GOP chooses as the 2024 nominee for president is going to be treated by the media as either an extremist or as beholden to extremists.
No one has to wait for this to happen to potential candidate Ron DeSantis. We’ve already witnessed our “objective” press malign him for backing what the Left calls the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibited lessons in gender fluidity or sexual orientation from kindergarten to third grade. The press has greeted this as “controversial,” but if public schools openly teach sexual orientation and transgenderism to six-year-olds, that’s somehow not “controversial.”
It’s one thing for liberal parents to push the LGBTQ talking points at their dinner table. It’s an entirely different thing for the public schools to push it – as activist teachers boast about it on TikTok. Imagine if a red state encouraged public schools to teach that Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind. Liberal media wouldn’t fulminate against any Democrat critics as pushing a “Don’t Say Jesus” bill that’s “controversial.”
ABC evening anchor David Muir warned viewers in his idiosyncratic no-verb patter on March 22: “News tonight on DeSantis and a potential plan to extend Florida’s Don’t Say Gay policy in schools all the way to the 12th grade.” ABC reporter Rachel Scott repeated the point: “DeSantis now doubling down on this controversial law critics have called ‘Don't Say Gay’ that restricts what teachers can tell their students about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
It should have been an easy layup to keep these kinds of libertine lectures out of the grade schools, but it’s certainly more controversial in high schools, especially since high-schoolers are more likely to be political activists inside the classroom and out.
The same lingo aired on ABC the next morning. Anchor Whit Johnson repeated that DeSantis was “doubling down on the controversial law.” Reporter Mary Bruce announced DeSantis has “become a real champion for conservative cultural concerns,” focusing on the “hot-button issues.” One side is “conservative,” the other side receives no warning label.
Bruce quoted from a DeSantis spokesman on how these lessons are not necessary in public schools, then balanced that with the “devout Catholic” president’s take. “The White House calling it part of a disturbing and dangerous trend of laws targeting the LGBTQ community.”
Teaching LGBTQ lessons to six-year-olds is not seen as “disturbing and dangerous.” Opposing it is “targeting” people – for violence? You can’t call the LGBTQ activist teachers “groomers,” but you can suggest conservatives will spur verbal and physical bullying.
The rights of parents in a curriculum debate are almost absent from these stories, because the parents who would object are seen as Christian bigots who don’t have a right to “target youth” by objecting. Parents of “transgender children,” on the other hand, are parents who matter. Journalists would rather prevent any debate about what’s taught. Let the liberal experts win by default! Democracy should die in darkness.
Bruce concluded with political calculations: “DeSantis has built a brand on cultural divisions, supporting limitations on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, restrictions on drag performances, and has banned transgender athletes from playing girls and women’s sports.”
This is the maddening part. If the Biden White House aggressively supports everything DeSantis opposes, why aren’t they branded as culturally divisive? Because they’re on “the right side of history”?
In just the same way that our epic political battles are presented as the ultraconservatives versus the nonpartisans, the cultural wars are apparently between the controversial, divisive conservatives and the peace-making, unifying advocates for youth.