Any regime of political discourse that subordinates the merit of an argument to the identity of the person advocating it is inherently unhealthy.
This conversation takes the viewpoints of trans ideologues way too respectfully and seriously in terms of the strength and purpose of their arguments. Well-meaning gays, lesbians like myself, and liberals in general, long ago sacrificed our integrity when we chose, in the name of tolerance, to uncritically concur with the pseudo scientific assertions of trans ideology. Sex is real. People cannot change their sex. Sex is not assigned at birth (it is determined at the moment of conception). Gender identity divorced from sex is a social construct. These are true statements in the same way that the earth travels around the sun is a true statement. The literal embrace of gender ideology is the left's equivalent of QAnon. Fear of being called bigots has made us stupid. I assert that it is not necessary to throw 500 million years of human evolution in the river in order to support every person's right to do what they want with their body. I support the right of trans people to transition and to live their lives unencumbered by discrimination in all spheres of life. But I will never nod my head like a fool when they assert that men competing in women's sports is perfectly fair and just and to not allow it is transphobic discrimination. Why do we participate in this pernicious game of the Emperor's New Gender when we know better?
Pitting women's rights against the rights of trans people is benighted and evil. One group's rights must not be privileged over the rights of another. There can and should be a third option so that both groups can flourish in safety and respect. Yet, the current administration seems to feel that it's perfectly fine to throw women under the bus. Why are liberals, including feminists, willing to pretend that men self-identifying as women are not a danger to women in prison? We've already seen that they are. Repeating over and over again the mantra that “transwomen are women” does not make transwomen women. When all the stars of the girls' track team are boys, as is now happening in Connecticut, this is not a giant step for womankind. The erasure of girls’ and women's bodies and rights would cease if people who know better yelled FOUL at the top of their lungs.
The kind of ideological bullying that Glenn and Katie are subject to now is nothing new. It's just another day in the life of trans ideologues, who for years have harassed anyone who points out that the world is not flat and that trans identity is not the default position for the entire human race. Abigail Shrier, author of "Irreversible Damage" (which the ACLU tried to ban), testified before the Senate yesterday in opposition to the current version of the Equality Act. She said that she's interviewed more transgender people than just about anyone in the country, and she knows that the majority of them do not agree with the pseudo scientific nonsense promulgated by trans ideologues. But they keep their mouths shut because they're as intimidated as everyone else by the bullying of trans activists.
There's strength in numbers and in the truth. There can and should be room for us all, but it's going to take many voices speaking out from a place of objective reality. I suggest we do it soon.
Glenn, thanks for being prolific in these times when we all really need your voice. You've published some great things lately, and a lot of them. I worry about you a little. Please don't wear yourself out. We're still going to need you down the road, so, please pace yourself!
Great piece Glenn. Like you, I'm a person with lefty, liberal values but critical of the current woke approach. I'm always on the lookout for more writers with a similar framework. As a perspective, it feels vanishingly rare. I don't know if I'll ever get over the heartbreak of watching the ACLU shift from an absolutist free speech advocate to another identity politics interest group. Thanks for being one of the smart, reasonable, voices. I wish I knew how this moment in history ends.
I've long been of the opinion that sexuality is a spectrum, and that apart from political questions, LGBTQ labels are somewhat arbitrary. By most standards I'd be a straight male, and I've refrained from taking any particularly strong stances in this discourse.
But there's no denying that the culture war is one of the primary political facts today, and it is troubling to see that critical discussions of these cultural trends are almost exclusively had on the right, and it's never in good faith. If the left can't have conversations on this without fear of being labeled a TERF or bigot, then we may as well kiss dreams of a mass political project goodbye. Culture is complicated and if there is no room for critique, then cultural liberalism has morphed in to something extremely illiberal.
There's a large swath of the population - maybe not a silent majority, but a majority that is ignored by the 'very online' - who do not accept or even understand all of the core tenants of cultural liberalism. Hell even most on the cultural left don't agree with each other but lack the space to even find where those disagreements lie. Disagreement is not synonymous with bigotry, but too many people can't see the difference. As Glenn said, "If we're the enemies, the who are the allies?"
Unfortunately, longform discussions don't translate very well to twitter, so the mob will have the upper hand so long as the dominant cultural medium is the digital validation machine known as Twitter.
I really appreciate this discussion challenging the new orthodoxies, from people with the standing to do it. (Based on, as Katie said, the irony that they are in a great position to use identity as legitimacy, even as they really dislike "identity politics."). Glenn and Katie can say what others want to say but have no standing to do so.
And yet it so needs to be challenged these days. Glenn and Katie shared the ugly examples of smearing and "purity tests" that began on twitter and other social platforms. Some of the more subtle manifestations of the new "Oppression Status Hierarchy" can in the long run be significantly damaging too, as it shuts down entire topics and the right to have them. In workplaces and in meetings of community organizations, for example, the Oppression Status Hierarchy has now infected the way meetings are conducted (and bogged down). A facilitation technique called "progressive stack," for example, requires that facilitators and participants list people in the order of the number of their "intersectionalities." This list then determines who CAN speak and / or in what ORDER. A prime example of what Glenn has described as the special deference owed to some identities over others.
Listing who can speak and / or in what order based on their "oppression identity" is not how a group thought process or an analysis of a problem, considerations of possible solutions, or planning of a strategy can proceed. Instead, this listing in order of presumed oppression forces the presumably oppressive categories of people to hold onto their comment or their logical challenge to topic or sub-topic #1 until everyone above them on the stack has spoken. By that time, the discussion has moved to sub-topic #7, and the person who had a comment 30 minutes ago then inserts their now out-of-date perspective, causing the group to have to loop back to the discussion that began 30 minutes ago. Not only is this inefficient, it doesn't affirm a group in their ability to build on each others ideas in a spontaneous way. Instead, if a white guy happens to have an important question to ask, he has to wait until everyone else has spoken.
As a professional facilitator, this is appalling and unnatural. It removes spontaneous thought. It doesn't reward a natural drawing out of others. It also causes people, as Glenn and Katie discussed so well, to come up with new identities in order to boost their name closer to the top of the list. It subtly stigmatizes some people as inherently "dominators" and elevates others who, based on their "oppression" are presumed to have a wiser, "trauma informed" or "lived experience" perspective. Also presumed is that those in "the dominant identities" will, by their very expression of ideas, stifle the "voice" of bisexual, trans, native, bipoc, black, lesbian, gay, disabled participants, and that this is the only way to ensure that this won't happen.
But it is absolutely NOT the only way. A skilled facilitator has many sophisticated techniques for assuring not only a logical progression of ideas or analysis toward solutions or decisions, they also know how to equalize participation. They know how to encourage participants to build on each other's ideas, to active-listen the preceding comment before they add their own, to deliberately try to draw out the assumptions and reasoning and conclusions of others.
My strong opinion: there is no reason to assume that such an artificial tool as "progressive stack," based on a continuum of oppressed to oppressor identities, will improve outcomes or relationships. I have observed it reduce meetings to wheel-spinning and silence,, a prime example of the dysfunctionalities of "identity" dynamics that Glenn and Katie have described.
It's all about power. These people who talk about disrupting power structures (whatever that means) are just obsessed with power. Everything they say abt other people is a projection of their own sins. They SUCK.. Lol. But they are hell bent on pushing everyone out of their space. So let them. They will eventually push themselves out. There's a deep anxiety here in America. No one at the top of the cultural sphere or anyone interested in being something is really happy. They have to keep creating new identities and definitions of morality to keep themselves busy. Okay. Let them. They are ALL clowns, running on the hamster wheel of the cage they've created for themselves. I'm content to laugh at them from afar. It's not a great situation, I know. But I pity them, they're moronic.
Thanks, Glenn for not pulling punches. I find it fascinating, brave, brilliant, even brash. But those are the qualities you WANT in a serious, investigating journalist. You are an example to many (particularly journalists) who have lost their way. Who have grown up in the world of Twitter, and assume that finding a few tweets (from absolute nobodies) as the sum total necessary for writing a decent article.
You've also tapped into a zeitgeist. There's a huge swath of people (not unlike many Foxnews viewers) who are happy to listen to a voice of sanity, whether on the right or left, provided it's spoken without the massive baggage of an authoritarian agenda.
Your reasoned and determined defense of free speech makes many of us a lot more open to your arguments in other areas.
So glad to have found your site and become a part of this community!
“Despite having what I regard as rather banal liberal politics (she was an ardent advocate of the moral imperative of voting for Joe Biden)”
Well well well. It’s time for her to lay in the bed she made, isn’t it? While I am certainly about to watch the video because of you Glenn, I do find it amazing that she advocated for voting for Joe Biden, the dude who has exploited identity politics to the max including his claim of the reason for running for president being due to orange man calling white supremacists “fine people” - a blatant lie by the media and leftists. How can she claim to hate identity politics when she claimed moral superiority in voting for it? Hypocritical isn’t it??
You are not going to like this, but the offense you feel from the trans community now ambushing you after having lived your life basically (although maybe inadvertently) paving the way for their movement, I see as parallel to the offense conservatives feel when they are accused of being oppressors by gays. Imagine the war vet, for example, who fought for American freedom, now being called a racist bigot. Do you see the irony? Much love and respect. Thank you for bravely forging ahead and investigating the important questions in search of truth. Genuinely appreciate your work.
I believe the most persecuted members of our society are working class white, straight men. Vilified, discriminated, belittled by the college educated white upper class men and women. Not one of whom has had a fleeting interaction with any of them. As for the political and academic race hustlers I’m willing to bet that they have no black or Hispanic acquaintances aside from their maids, nannies, gardeners and the entire. servant class. Not one of them have ever been to an inner city neighborhood. Not one has ever had a conversation or a beer with any working man or women. They look for self promotion, self enrichment, and opportunism for advancement by keeping the lower class working people in their place by setting one against the other. Devide and conquer. So I’m not interested in the hand wringing, teeth gnashing, giant tears being shed by the upperclass rulers claiming being holier than thou for having suffered longer than the mew arrivals.
It's just remarkable that these nouveau activists would go after Andrew Sullivan. I actually remember reading his article in the New Republic arguing for gay marriage, and changing my mind in favor of it. How many of these "journalists" have won over anyone on any topic?
" I do not question the legitimacy of their self-proclaimed identity, and I support the full panoply of legal rights and societal respect that they are due."
This is one of the reason why these types of people will win. It's an obvious grift. Call out their BS. They use your goodwill and grounded morals to see to it that you're obliterated. Their grift is one about power. While regular people find this kind of action repellent, they don't care. "Bake the cake bigot!" becomes "It's a private company so twitter can do whatever it wants."
Gad Saad has been all over this topic for years. It's poisonous. Call out the grift and call their BS from the start. Lived straight for 35 years with children .. now 'trans' and calling GG out? Please.
Glenn, I believe that I may have proven myself to be your most devoted subscriber today. I am an old, straight, conservative, white guy who took a break from reading the Federalist Papers (I am on No. 65) to watch and listen to the conversation you posted with Katie. You are without question the only person in the world who could convince me to listen to two gay people discuss the trans movement for over an hour.
And, to your point about the politics of inclusion being about “convincing”. vs. “coercing” those who are different from you, I learned more about gender dysphoria in those 90 minutes than I had learned in the prior 55 years. I have always been and will always be against discrimination of any kind against any group, but some issues are quite complicated (such as gender dysphoria) and preventing discrimination against one group can produce it against another.
While I still don’t know what all of the answers are, I am more informed about the issues. What I do know is that shutting down honest and well meaning debate will never advance understanding and reduce bigotry.
Thanks for the enlightenment.
We need some investigative reporting on who are the PR firms that are managing the current political dialog and who is paying them. Base on timing, content, and verbiage of many of the public communications on various issues, it is obvious to me that PR firms are driving this and must be making a whole lot of money.
Anyone else reminded of the Seinfeld episode where he thinks dentist Tim Watley converted to Judaism just so he could tell Jewish jokes?
When you build an engine of oppression, there is always the risk that it will be used against you. Whether or not Glenn is guilty of so doing, whether or not he benefitted from others so doing, it has nonetheless been done. As above, it is now being used against those whom it was (allegedly) built to protect. This is a lot like Orwell's observation that you don't establish a tyranny to protect the revolution, you have a revolution to establish the tyranny. In other words, I don't believe for a femtosecond it was built to protect anyone, even as I acknowledge a lot of well-meaning but overly naïve people did believe it during the building phase, and therefore supported its creation. We are now seeing that it is not an innocence defender* engine.
(Parenthetically (is it proper to put actual parentheses around paragraphs that begin with that word? Bygones.), Glenn has always been susceptible to appeals to emotion, especially compassion. I don't hold that as a fault, nor do I level it as a criticism; it's just part of life, learning that there are people who will cynically and ruthlessly exploit our compassion, and learning how to detect that, and counter it, while not losing our compassion. It's not easy - being an adult rarely is. Glenn is emphatically not the same guy that Obama suckered with his hope and change schtick. He's seen too much from the pointy end of THAT engine of oppression to ever be that guy again. And yet he retains his compassion, even as he's learned to be more skeptical with it.)
Until we all get a lot more aggressively skeptical of people claiming they need absolute power in order to save us from ourselves, we're going to all suffer from this principle in action.
*I visited Sheffield, England on a work trip. While there I bought two bottles of fruit smoothies at the local shop. Months later my wife found the receipt in my jacket pocket: 2 innocent defenders at 2 pounds each. It was a funny phone call.