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The Abdication Of Adult Authority

Rich Lowry on the Children’s Crusade:

These young activists are making our public debate even more poisonous and less civil, and are doing it as teenagers. They are precocious that way.

The Stoneman Douglas students experienced a horrific trauma. No one can deny their grief or blame them for being impassioned. And allowance has to be made for the fact that they are teenagers, who universally believe that they know better than their hapless elders (Hogg says the problem is that their parents don’t know how to use a democracy).

Yet none of that excuses their scurrilous smears of the other side in the gun debate. The student activists presume that there is a ready solution to mass shootings that everyone knows, and the only reason why someone might not act on this universally accepted policy is malice or corruption. This makes the other side the equivalent of murderers.


Maybe all of this can be written off as the work of overenthusiastic, underinformed 17-year-olds. But the student activists aren’t acting alone. They are promoted and praised by adults who should know better. Since the kids serve a useful purpose in promoting gun control, though, it is practically forbidden in much of the media to dissent from anything they say.

But isn’t that the way it goes with our institutions today? Look at colleges and universities whose administrators allow woke young people to intimidate professors and students who dissent from their militant progressivism. And look at the way the medical profession — the medical profession! — is handling pediatric transgenderism. From a Washington Post story favorable to the doctors who are “trying to help”:

The type of services being requested has also changed. Clinicians say they are no longer taken aback by youths seeking some kind of boutique treatment — often “just a touch of testosterone” for an androgynous, nonbinary identity.

“It’s the children who are now leading us,” said Diane Ehrensaft, the director of mental health for the clinic. “They’re coming in and telling us, ‘I’m no gender.’ Or they’re saying, ‘I identify as gender nonbinary.’ Or ‘I’m a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’m a unique gender, I’m transgender. I’m a rainbow kid, I’m boy-girl, I’m everything.’ ”

This is an insane abdication of authority. Why are adults so afraid to act like adults? I can understand why cynical operators want to use young people to advance favored political causes…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo&w=525&h=300]

… but there seems to be something more sinister at work here. It’s as if the 1960s belief that youth are especially prophetic, and bearers of innocence and enlightenment, has gone nuclear.

You want to know why Jordan Peterson is so popular? Because he’s a grown-up who is not afraid to act like a grown-up.

UPDATE: Erin Manning points out that the Babylon Bee has David Hogg’s number:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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