Reason Roundup

Stop Trying To Make Ukraine About Your Culture War

Plus: Russia suppresses anti-war protest by citing pandemic restrictions, gun control advocates emulate Texas abortion law, and more...


As the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen, many Americans can't stop trying to make this tragedy all about us. With the horrors of real war raging—buildings bombed, and 137 people killed so far, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy—some U.S. pundits are pushing their culture war grievances into Ukraine-Russia discourse.

"Russia and China are focused on expanding their spheres of influence via aggressive action. The West is focused on expanding its national debt and exploding the gender binary," tweeted conservative writer Ben Shapiro yesterday. "Whatever advantages we have on an objective level are wildly undermined by our narcissistic idiocy."

"I'm just glad we flew pride flags," tweeted Fox News host Lisa Boothe.

"Big picture what you are seeing in Ukraine — and maybe Taiwan too — is a conflict between people who believe in words, gestures, the blue check left wing journos of the world and people who believe in raw, physical power. The left wing of the Democratic party is anti-masculinity," conservative radio host Clay Travis commented.

Conservative commentator Matt Walsh took the opportunity to mock military diversity and inclusion initiatives.

One of the idiotic implications here is that Russia's actions in Ukraine could somehow be stemmed if Americans didn't care so much about things like gay rights, race, or gender. As if Russian President Vladimir Putin's imperial ambitions could've been checked if "blue check left wing journos" just got more serious. As if Russian warmongers really care about what pronouns you do or don't use. I mean, talk about narcissistic idiocy—to think that the U.S. culture war or domestic policy has any bearing on this at all.

The other frightening implication is that Russian-style shows of aggression and "raw, physical power" are traits the U.S. should want to emulate. But being big bullies who don't respect international law and international sovereignty—or individual rights and tolerance within our own borders—wouldn't make Russia less likely to invade. It would just lose the U.S. any claims to moral high ground or a chance to show that there's a better way.

In any event, the culture war isn't the only out-of-place issue that pundits want to wind into war discussions.

Author Laurie Garrett wondered if Putin's actions weren't inspired by long COVID.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry worried about the effect of the Russian invasion on greenhouse gas emissions and public attention to climate change.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, Turning Point USA Director Charlie Kirk said that "the southern border is a lot more important than the Ukraine border."

Comments like all of those above seem so transparently self-promotional (look, look, here's how a war across the globe is really about the thing I'm always talking about already!) and beyond gross.

Now is not the time for petty culture war grievances and personal grifts. Yes, life—and news—in America goes on, but maybe the day Russia starts bombing Ukraine isn't the time for your critical race theory rant or your masculinity-crisis paranoia, you know? And it certainly isn't the time for you to try and tie whatever you would be on about anyway into the war news cycle.

I promise, the culture war and all its brave keyboard warriors will still be there next week. So will COVID-19, and climate change, and border battles. Just let it go for a minute. Show some respect, empathy, and perspective.

If you're tempted to post things like: Russia is doing this because Americans use too many pronouns! At least Putin isn't woke! How will the murder of Ukrainian civilians affect gas prices? Stop. Go outside for a walk. Call a loved one. Cuddle a pet. Do anything real and good and tangible while counting your blessings that you will very likely never know the fear and pain of having your country invaded by a warmongering dictator.

This isn't about us. Stop making it about us.

More Reason coverage of Ukraine:



Gun control advocates take a page from Texas anti-abortion playbook. Last year, Texas passed a controversial law banning abortion after six weeks and allowing citizens to sue over abortions performed later than this. California is now following suit with legislation that would allow people to sue gun manufacturers when people violate gun regulations:

"We're going to start playing by their rules now," Newsom asserted at a news conference last week as he unveiled a package of legislation allowing citizens to sue manufacturers and dealers when gun laws are broken. "The Supreme Court of the United States opened a door wide open.

California state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D–Van Nuys) and Assemblyman Philip Ting (D–San Francisco) have introduced legislation to this effect:

Hertzberg's bill, SB 1327, would create a bounty scheme to allow vigilantes to sue manufacturers or dealers who peddle firearms that are illegal in California, such as assault weapons or so-called ghost guns. There'd be a $10,000 reward….

Another bill, AB 1594 by Assemblyman Philip Ting (D-San Francisco), would allow the state and individuals to sue manufacturers and sellers of firearms that harmed people.


• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to loosen mask guidelines today.

• Be careful what you re-share on social media around about the situation in Ukraine.

• More than half of abortions in the U.S. are now induced with medication. A new report from the Guttmacher Institute says that 54 percent of U.S. abortions are nonsurgical, up from 39 percent in 2017 and just 6 percent in 2001.

• An Arizona bill to ban abortion-inducing medications has failed, after one Republican House member voted against it. "In my research of some of these medications, they are used for other purposes as well," said Rep. Michelle Udall (R–Mesa) in explaining her vote. "They're used for women who have had a miscarriage. They're also used to treat Cushing's Syndrome and they have other uses. And so to criminalize making these medications and using them will hurt other people."

• Texas National Guard members are not happy about being deployed to guard the border.

• "According to supporters of House Bill 1557—formally titled the Parental Rights in Education bill and labeled the 'Don't Say Gay' bill by critics—its purpose is primarily to support parents' rights to prevent their children from being taught certain concepts about sexuality," explains Emma Camp. But "like other education bills sweeping state legislatures, Florida's H.B. 1557 has a major flaw: The bill's vagueness will likely ensure that the scope of the intended censorship exceeds the intent of the bill authors." In related news: