Here’s me at The Catholic Herald, reflecting on last week’s Democratic sit-in for the policy people like to call “gun control”:
One side of the culture war has been successful in linking all its opinions to the most contentious and guilt-ridden periods in American history. Anyone opposing the sit-in, then, is cast in the symbolic role of Bull Connor.
One might scoff at all of this, but bringing guilt and shame by continually invoking the lowest points in a nation’s history does affect people — see “Germany” — and often makes people assent to things not on their merits but on their emotional repercussions. I’ll always defend the Enlightenment, but it cemented in many Western minds a false idea of how humans actually think and make decisions. We have been trained since school age to believe that if we use facts, logic, and reason to make a case, we can persuade others to our side; if we apply this process to governance, the thinking goes, we can preserve our rights and liberty through superior argumentation.
At The Catholic Herald, I report on the Yale English Department chair’s reaction to students’ petition to “decolonize” the literary curriculum. I want to emphasize a point I have been trying to make repeatedly:
There is a connection between what’s happening on our universities and the movement to elect Donald Trump. I have been trying to explain to people that Trump is a proxy figure. By and large, the conservative movement in the United States — with its obsessive focus on free markets, tax rates, and military campaigns in the Middle East — has ignored cultural issues such as the long march against traditional Western culture. Is it any wonder people have become desperate? Much of the support Trump enjoys is not due to his often vague and contradictory platform. His role is symbolic: the radical culture is an unstoppable force, and he is the immovable object.
I have always supported the right of all people to be who they are without a political or legal war against them — provided they aren’t harming anyone else. That said, I can understand how the fight over transgender people in public bathrooms can make even the most tolerant person think twice about how this might affect others, especially women and children. Over at The Catholic Herald, I write about how and why this battle in the culture war is now pitting the Left against itself, instead of the usual Left vs. Right skirmish:
There’s a big difference between an abstract question – “Should transgender women be allowed in female bathrooms?’ – and a concrete scenario: that is, being a female, walking into a bathroom and having a deep-voiced person with the wrong anatomy follow you in. The first is a moral debate that costs you nothing to have; the second is a very real circumstance with which you or your children may have to contend. And when liberals finally do contend with it, even they start to question their own wisdom.
Often you’ll find that liberals act very conservative when no one is watching.