There are a lot of problems on the international stage these days and what the State Department decided to highlight today does not exactly inspire confidence they are up to the challenge.
Since today is allegedly International Pronouns Day and the State Department tweeted, “we share why many people list pronouns on their email and social media profiles” with a link from the agency’s “platform for communicating compelling stories that spark discussion & debate on important topics about U.S. policy and culture.”
From Bari Weiss:
Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission.
When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history.
America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable.
Read the rest: We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage
I am a parent of female child who has Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). This is a new phenomenon where a child, who was perfectly happy in his or her body until right around puberty, suddenly announces that he or she is the opposite sex. In the case of my daughter, when she developed this condition, she threw away all of her feminine clothes, cut her hair super short, refused to go out in public without a chest binder and stopped shaving her legs. And, of course, she came up with a new male-sounding name and insisted that everyone use it, along with the associated male pronouns.
With ROGD, from the parent perspective, the change is abrupt and without warning – thus the term “rapid”—but that term is somewhat deceiving. ROGD doesn’t quite pop up out of nowhere despite how it might initially appear, nor does the body incongruence of gender dysphoria spring up organically as the gender ideologues proclaim. It is not something that the ROGD child always felt. And the trans identity is not something that child determines on her own. Rather, it is carefully manufactured and cultivated on the internet and in peer groups, like a tended-to plant. The pretty pot is placed out; the dirt is added; the seeds are implanted; water is carefully poured; and the pot is placed in the sunshine, so that it can grow stronger and bigger until, eventually, and tragically, the child who was happy in her body is no longer recognizable, and not just by sight. Her personality changes to be sullen, combative and disengaged. She is no longer jovial or interested in much of anything unless it related to being trans.
Gender dysphoria is the cause of genuine, significant distress among young people. With adequate psychotherapeutic follow-up, its causes are usually understood, and/or disappear in 60 to 90% of cases at the end of adolescence2. It can very often be linked to autism3 or homosexuality, and sometimes to schizophrenia.
Moreover, regardless of any transphobia, it is an undeniable fact that medical transition (hormones and surgery) is largely irreversible and dangerous for bone density, heart4 and fertility. Moreover it hasn’t been demonstrated to even improve mental health.
Our purpose here is not to deny the possibility of medically transition for adults who have thought at length about this issue. What we do aim is to question:
- the permanence or desistance of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents
- the usefulness of an irreversible medical transition, potentially dangerous and often unsuited to their suffering
- a teenagers’ capacity to have true informed consent to lifelong medicalization of their body, while a consensus seems to affirm that the human brain reaches psychic maturity around the age of 25
- the influence that social networks and LGBT activism can have on young people experiencing doubt and suffering, while being very much mobilized against discrimination
With these questions in mind, it is important to promote among young females the need to take the time for reflection and the possibility to have access to serious psychotherapeutic monitoring prior to any form of medical transition5. These are the demands of many movements around the world, including:
- Health professionals such as the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine
- Lesbian and homosexual movements like LGB Alliance or GettheLout or Résistance lesbienne, see also Mr Menno’s videos
- Movements of parents worried about the disturbingly fast medicalization of children such as Genspect or Gender Dysphoria Supporting Network or Bayswater Support Group or TransgenderTrend or for the rights of the children of Quebec
- Part of the trans movement, such as Gender Health Query or Trevoices, aware of the difficulties of medical transition
- Feminist movements such as The Women’s declaration, For the rights of women in Quebec, or the collective for the translation of feminist texts
“What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization. They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity. They know nothing!”
Source: Intellectual Takeout
From Madison’s (former) Mayor Dave:
…by obsessing about race, white liberals can ignore the real source of their own advantages. some of which, like skin color, are unearned. After all, let’s face it, for most jobs a college degree is just checking a box. It conveys little or nothing in terms of ability to do the job. It’s just getting your ticket stamped.
So I if you’re a white liberal who knows intuitively that you’re earning way more than somebody else who hasn’t had your opportunity to go to college, and you know that your “qualifications” are essentially a fraud, why wouldn’t you feel a sense of self-loathing? But not self-loathing to the point of actually honestly identifying the very source of your privilege.
In this way race becomes any easy out. Blue collar white folks are even more guilty than you are because, unlike you, they aren’t self-aware enough to understand their own complicity. There’s even a whiff of Catholic sacraments about it. Yes, you’ve sinned but you’ve gone to confession. Never mind that you’ve confessed a venial sin and left the mortal one off the table.
Look, “guilty white liberals” have always been a thing. But now, with their vastly increased power and influence among institutions including the media and the Democratic Party, they’re steering the public conversation in a way that is backfiring on all those institutions. The language and policies of woke are just killing the Democrats.
If college-educated white liberals really want to save democracy the very first thing they can do is just shut the heck up and let the conversation get steered by white and Black blue collar voters.
What seems to me foolish in standard vaccine refusal is roughly the same as what seems foolish to me in opposition to using the insecticide DEET in areas where mosquitoes carry malaria, which kills many people. It’s true that the DEET causes some significant problems, but it is unlikely that those problems are worse than the many deaths that would result without it. This seems clear just based on historical use of the chemical. Similarly, vaccines may cause some problems but the (recent) historical use suggests pretty clearly that they save lives.
Of course, there are always mistakes. Science is constantly evolving—it is more of a process, after all, than a single state of knowledge. Scientists make mistakes. Worse, sometimes scientists bend to their desires and sometimes industries have enough financial power to change the way science is presented. (Looking at you, sugar Industry!) Given that and a personal distrust of government, I certainly understand when people want to wait for evidence to settle.
A drug or other scientific advancement used too early may well turn out to be more problematic than its worth. But aspirin has been well tested. And vaccines have been well tested. Even the recent Covid vaccines have been well tested. The fact is you are far more likely to die from Covid if you are unvaccinated than if you are. Granted, the odds of dying either way are thankfully slim for most of us. But what people are now faced with is a free and easy way to avoid (a small chance of) death. Admittedly, it’s possible that in 20 years we’ll learn that these new vaccines cause cancer or such. But scientific advancement will continue and the fight against cancer is already far better than it was any time in the past. So the option is between a free and easy way to avoid a chance of death or serious illness now combined with some chance of added problem later that we may know how to deal with and, well, not avoiding that. Maybe this is a judgement call, but the former seems pretty clearly the better option in standard cases. (Other downsides, so far as I can tell, are mostly fictitious. If you’re worried about a computer chip embedded in the vaccine, for example, realize you could have had one put in you when you were born.)
Let’s say Jeff Bezos came face to face with the No. 1 guy on the Poorest Americans list. Let’s call him Bob. Bob used to be a pretty mean carpenter until an accident severed his hand from the rest of his body, and, having no insurance and no union, he currently sits on a milk crate at the corner of Market and Broad asking passersby for coffee money. Oh by the way: Bob was a pilot in the Air Force many moons ago.
Now Bezos doesn’t owe Bob, a complete stranger, anything. But I’d be curious what that encounter would be like. Who would be more uncomfortable? What would they talk about? Space flight? Well-made bookshelves?
“A lot of people hate me,” Bezos might say. “A lot of people hate me too,” Bob might reply.
What if Bezos and Bob hit it off, and the former took the latter under his wing. And what if it turned out that Bob had a thing or two to teach Bezos. The interesting question is, who would be the protégé of whom? Maybe each would see a little of the other in himself.
So what if the 400 richest “encountered” the 400 poorest? What ideas could be sparked or conversations started? What would it take to make the poorest less poor? Not rich. Just stable. Coping. Un-desperate.
We’re living in a really remarkable economic time. There appear to be more jobs than workers. Yet the number of homeless-populated tent cities seem to be increasing. Despite the rise in the minimum wage, about 37 million people still exist below the poverty line. What’s really going on? Surely, as Joseph Sunde has written, these strange incongruities predate COVID. Is there a more, I don’t know, human element at play that macroeconomics can’t detect, but a little empathy and less blame-gaming could?
What if my Encounter Project became so successful, each one-on-one connection bearing fruit over time, that different 400 Poorest names popped up the next year because each listee from the previous year had done too well, thus falling off the list? And what if that kept happening year after year? The 400 Richest would probably stay more or less the same, with the occasional Social Media Influencer making a debut. But the 400 Poorest were all vanishing like Baptists in a Left Behind novel or waiters at my local diner.
Yes, the poor we will always have with us. But the poorest?
I know, I know. That stuff only happens in the movies.
The claim that man cannot be good without God usually makes God the ontological foundation of obligation or the enforcer of moral law, and the denial of the claim consists in arguing that the law needs no such foundation. If we take it like this Christianity criticises both claims since it takes any moral law, especially one divinely founded and enforced, as more of a fundamental human problem. The gospel certainly doesn’t consist in the proclamation of a moral law full stop, and it is absurd to the point of contradiction to think that the good news Christ came to announce to Israel was one a divinely grounded and enforced moral code. Israel already had the perfect form of such a code for a thousand years – its problem was its inability to keep it. Another moral code (Now with new foundation! New enforcement!) wasn’t just bringing coals to Newcastle but to throw them on a burning home. Paul generalizes the problem to the whole world since we’re all born with the moral law in us before it is clarified by Torah, and by the time our choices, bad luck and perverse social structures efface the law from our heart we take it as pointless to proclaim it to us again. As Paul would note later, the law both written in Torah and human nature is good in itself but in our present circumstances it condemns us.
The Christian sees man’s moral need for God as insufficiently in God’s grounding a moral code and formally and ultimately in God’s empowerment of the soul to follow and enjoy the code that God establishes and proclaims. As the Psalm puts it: I will run after you, O LORD, when you have enlarged my heart.
Our present moral muddle about the criteria for human actions (Duty? Consequences? Human flourishing?) occludes the deeper problem that even after we find the criteria we won’t be able to follow it, and we might even take comfort in our disagreement about moral foundations since it hides our moral ugliness behind a supposed scholarly riddle, i.e. “as soon as we solve this trolley problem our inherent human goodness and moral strength will more than suffice to make everyone do the good!” Faced with the moral vision of myself, imagining my ignorance is more pleasant than admitting my wickedness.
So the present terms of the debate over whether man can be good without God are largely moot: even if our moral code made no reference to God we would need God to be good, because our need for him is not principally in his justification of a law we can follow fine by ourselves but his strengthening of the heart to enjoy the moral law which, in fact, both arises from his action and is ordered to union with him. Again, even if (and I take this as per impossibile) a secular, evolutionary psychology morality were made perfect in every jot and tittle, the primary role it would play in divine providence would be for God to make persons recognize we are insufficient in ourselves and that our sufficiency is in God.
The first thing to note is that a vaccine mandate, even if ill-advised in some cases, is not per se or intrinsically immoral. Most Catholics acknowledge this in the case of other vaccines. For example, few complain about the fact that schools have long required measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines as a condition for attendance. Whether or not it is a good idea for a school, a government, a business corporation, or any other authority to impose some particular vaccine mandate is a matter of prudential judgment. Hence, the Covid-19 vaccine mandates cannot reasonably be objected to simply on the grounds that they are mandates. A reasonable objection would have to be based instead on the judgment that they involve a failure of prudence.
But how prudent or imprudent a policy is is a matter of degree. A certain tax policy, for example, might be extremely wise, merely defensible, merely ill-advised, outright foolish, or extremely foolish. The same thing can be true of a vaccine mandate. In my opinion, Covid-19 vaccine mandates of the kind now in play in California are somewhere between ill-advised and foolish. For one thing, I do not believe it has been shown that such mandates (as opposed to voluntary compliance) are necessary in order effectively to deal with the virus. That suffices to make them a bad idea, because imposing a vaccine mandate is a significant enough infringement on personal liberty that the authority imposing it faces a high burden of proof.
For another thing, when citizens are highly polarized about some policy that has merely prudential considerations in its favor, that is itself a serious reason for a public authority not to impose it, especially if the skeptical part of the population is already distrustful of the authority and sees the policy (whether correctly or not) as a crisis of conscience. This is just basic statesmanship. When polarization and distrust are already very high, the aim should be to reduce them, and to try as far as possible to accommodate those who have reservations. Heavy-handed policies like vaccine mandates will inevitably have the opposite effect.