Last week, Americans watched heartbreaking testimony about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Democrats seem to be operating on the basis of “guilty until proven innocent,” believing the accuser without any corroborating evidence. This kind of sexual assault witch hunt actually began under former president Barack Obama — as did some of the other key social issues America is wrestling with today.
While the Left’s advocacy on social issues and identity politics long predated Obama, the former president’s policies supercharged many of the issues dividing America in 2018. His administration helped launch the current liberal cultural wave that wreaks havoc on American politics — and extends far beyond politics.
Here are five key ways Obama’s policies impacted American culture, beginning with #MeToo, sexual assault, and Brett Kavanaugh.
1. The sexual assault maelstrom.
It all started in 2011, when the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under Obama’s Department of Education (DOE) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter reinterpreting Title IX of the 1972 Higher Education Act. The OCR letter encouraged colleges and universities to set up what Harvard Law professors Jacob Gerson and Jeannie Suk called a “sex bureaucracy.”
Separate Title IX offices at colleges across the country heard sexual assault cases, doling out punishments on their own. These mini bureaucracies operated off of the false assumptions that police are biased against sexual assault victims, that 1 in 4 women on college campuses are raped, and that basic due process protections for the accused would violate the rights of the “victims.” Men who have been falsely accused — and even acquitted by real police investigations — have seen their lives and reputations destroyed.
Obama personally established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in 2014, and he teamed up with Joe Biden to launch the “It’s On Us” campaign on these issues.
Trump’s DOE, under Betsy DeVos, rightly reversed these practices. Even so, the idea that “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply in sexual assault cases has permeated popular culture, and reared its ugly head in the Kavanaugh confirmation battle.
In the past year, a series of sexual predators rightly faced the music: Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, and Olympic doctor Larry Nassar most prominent among them. Actress Alyssa Milano first used the Twitter hashtag “#MeToo” to launch the movement of women and men going public with their accusations of sexual assault.
The #MeToo movement rightly brought those who were truly guilty to justice. Many real victims in the past have remained silent for fear that their accusations will not be taken seriously, and that they would face retribution from those who abused them. It does indeed require a tremendous amount of courage for a victim to come forward.
However, the #MeToo movement also echoed the Obama Title IX witch hunt. Activists presented the idea that all “survivors” need to be “believed,” regardless of corroborating evidence or eyewitness testimony.
The attacks against Brett Kavanaugh had already reached a fever pitch before the sexual assault allegations became known. He faced extremely hostile questioning from Democrats and the disruptions caused by more than 200 protesters (whose fines for breaking the law were paid for by the Women’s March). Milano dressed in a “Handmaid’s Tale” costume to protest him.
Then, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein finally decided to go public with the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh from Christine Blasey Ford, the protests got even worse. Democrats came out saying they “believed” Ford, despite the lack of evidence and the fact that Ford’s named eyewitnesses denied the event in question happened.
Worse, Democrats started denying Kavanaugh the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. They “believed survivors” when it was convenient, and largely ignored the accusations against Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). [Not to mention keeping Ford’s accusations secret for weeks.]
The #MeToo movement has been weaponized against Kavanaugh, leading Democrats to deny him due process in the same way the Title IX offices denied due process to college men accused of sexual assault. Just as so many men’s lives have been destroyed by accusations, now a Supreme Court nominee has had his honor irreparably impugned.
2. Transgender ideology.
In 2016, Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) redefined the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 engaged in illegal sex discrimination against transgender people. The bill merely stipulated that school restrooms and locker rooms that are not single-occupancy must be single-sex, and that students can only use the facility that matches their biological sex on their birth certificate.
The DOJ’s move here (and with a similar change in 2014) was monumental. The Obama administration redefined “sex” — which has always referred to a human being’s biological sex as male or female — to include “gender identity,” a much more amorphous concept that could not have been further from the minds of Congress when it passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With the stroke of a pen, the Obama administration made transgender ideology the law of the land, undermining North Carolina’s state law and emboldening transgender activists to push their agenda even harder.
To make matters worse, the army under Obama shifted to the position of providing taxpayer-funded transgender hormone therapy for convicted spy Chelsea Manning. As if to underscore the point, Obama personally commuted Manning’s sentence in his last days as president.
Furthermore, under Obamacare, coverage for transgender “treatments” tripled under Medicare and Medicaid — even before Bruce Jenner made his splash by calling himself “Caitlyn.”
This year, Democrats have nominated transgender candidates for the November elections — including Christine Hallquist, who would be the first transgender governor of Vermont. Schools have pushed transgenderism in kindergarten, and some parents have even lost custody of their children for refusing to acknowledge a transgender identity.
Many men and women have rejected transgender identity, finding themselves permanently scarred by the “treatments” they once welcomed. A pediatrician who opposes transgender identity warned that those who criticize the wholesale acceptance of transgenderism are attacked for “heresy.” Obama’s administration arguably laid the groundwork for this.
3. “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Since President Donald Trump’s election, Democrats have compared the new president to dystopian rulers from novels such as “1984.” None has become more popular than “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel about a government that removes women’s right to vote, to work, and to hold property — and forces fertile women to be systematically raped to have children. In the book — and the Hulu series on which it is based — the government justifies this horrific misogyny by referring to the Bible, twisting a well-known passage out of context.
How did liberals come to the conclusion that Trump’s presidency represents “The Handmaid’s Tale”? They likely got the idea from the battles over health care coverage for contraception.
Under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designated certain preventive services that insurance providers must cover without patient co-payment. HHS designated various forms of female contraception, including pills that induce abortion.
Many religious employers objected to being forced to fund abortion in this way, and sued the Obama administration. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), the Supreme Court struck down the contraception mandate, but the battle continued, involving the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Only under Donald Trump was religious freedom protected on these matters. Trump’s defense of religious freedom has helped 13.7 million people receive services from religious organizations, services threatened by Obama’s policies.
Liberals lamented the religious freedom victories involving Lobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and others. They demanded abortion-inducing drugs be covered as health care, and opposed any restriction on abortion or contraception as an assault on all women everywhere. Obama’s “War on Women” rhetoric helped push this narrative.
For this reason, activists started comparing the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare to “The Handmaid’s Tale” in May 2017. That same month, Hillary Clinton warned that if Planned Parenthood lost federal funding, “The Handmaid’s Tale” would result. Abortion activists dressed up as handmaids to protest state regulations on abortion. This January, the cast of the Hulu TV show announced they had joined the “Resistance” against Trump.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) shared a deceptively edited video to argue that Brett Kavanaugh opposes all forms of contraception — by twisting his remarks about this kind of contraception coverage case out of context. Even PolitiFact and The Washington Post had to debunk this malicious lie.
This activism only makes sense in the context of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, which pitted government coercion against biblical morality and convinced liberals that conservative Christians were the enemy of “reproductive rights.”
4. Same-sex marriage.
When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he ran as an opponent of same-sex marriage, but he pledged to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against open homosexuality in the U.S. military. By February 2011, he refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and in May of 2012 he supported same-sex marriage.
Obama didn’t stop there. In July 2014, he signed an executive order granting LGBT employees who work for government contractors special rights against “discrimination,” and in April 2015 he declared that “conversion therapy” should be banned.
American public opinion had already started changing on the issue, and Obama’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage arguably reflected that of the general public. That said, his policy moves had tremendous implications. A few months after Obama supported same-sex marriage, a homosexual couple approached Jack Phillips, the baker and owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, requesting he bake them a cake for their same-sex wedding. When he refused, the couple reported him to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that Jack Phillips had discriminated against the couple on the basis of sexual orientation. This was not true, however. Phillips offered to sell them any other product in his shop, but he would not bake a cake specifically for their wedding, because he considers marriage to be between one man and one woman.
The Supreme Court found that the commission had violated Phillips’ right to the free exercise of religion by engaging in animus against him. Even so, the commission went after Phillips again — this time for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition, from a man who (Phillips suspects) also requested Satanist cakes, one with a sex toy.
Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado when the gay couple first approached Phillips, but they may have taken the hint from President Obama that the power of the state would be used to ensure that dissent on LGBT issues would be redefined as “discrimination.” Indeed, Phillips is far from alone, and religious freedom battles are ramping up, two years after Obama left office.
Last but not least, no article on Obama’s impact on America’s culture could be complete without a discussion of race. The former president’s declaration that “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon” Martin should be remembered in infamy. America’s first black president could have improved race relations — instead, he worsened them.
While black men do indeed face more violence at the hands of police, the Black Lives Matter movement has chosen its battles poorly, often attacking police as racist even in cases where the police were in the right. Obama fanned the flames of this movement, and race relations have only worsened as a result.
Tragically, the constant messages about America’s supposedly racist culture have emboldened some white people to embrace racial identity politics, launching the disgusting alt-right movement and the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., last year. While Trump may have stoked white identity politics, Obama shares some blame in stoking America’s racial divisions.
This summer, a crowd in Washington, D.C., surrounded a Trump supporter — and an opponent of the alt-right — drowning her out with cries of “No free speech for racists!”
On each of these issues, President Obama’s statements and policies worsened partisan rancor and spurred on America’s tribalism. As Brett Kavanaugh faces an Obama DOE-style witch hunt, it is important to note that Obama’s administration launched the first wave of the #MeToo movement, and so much more.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.