Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denounced Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in an interview on Monday. Austin said he found Cruz’s tweets regarding the U.S. Army to be homophobic and, in some ways, anti-American because it only further abets adversaries, like Russia and China.

In May, Cruz appeared to criticize the U.S. Army for a recruitment campaign, which featured a female soldier raised by two moms. The “campaign” later turned out to be a Russian propaganda video share on TikTok.

Not only did he call the military “woke” and “emasculated,” but the video he shared compared it to a Russian Army’s recruitment advertisement. His comments were taken to suggest that perhaps messages of inclusivity aren’t the “best idea” if the U.S. Army wants to maintain its status as the greatest military in the world.

At the time, many Twitter users accused Cruz of promoting Russian propaganda and hate.

Historian Kevin Kruse, who replied with sarcasm: “Do you have any other Russian propaganda videos you’d like to promote, Senator?”

Dan Price, manager of Gravity Payments that is based in Seattle, observed that Cruz is simply “fearful” of “diversity and inclusion” and does not understand its “competitive advantage.”

In response, Cruz went back to Twitter to undermine the “lefty checkmarks.” He claimed that he was not attacking the military. Instead, he was attacking Democratic politicians and the media for turning the image of the military into a bunch of “pansies.”

That term alone garnered even more backlash. “Pansy” was once a slur used against gay men, and it has since been marked as abusive and disparaging.

Austin told CNN that Cruz is making it easier for America’s enemies to “capitalize on talking points like that.” He rebuked Cruz’s notion that the U.S. Army is soft and found his criticism, directed towards a female soldier sharing her experiences, was thoughtless and unnecessary.

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