Home/Rod Dreher/It Can Happen To You — And Will

It Can Happen To You — And Will

SJW shock troops (Alice Che/Shutterstock)

A reader writes:

The Great War on the English Language has begun at my workplace now. In the last 4 months an unspeakable amount of time and energy has been devoted to discussing the parameters of proper pronoun usage, complete with complaints lodged via HR and requests for meetings and committees.

We’ve been asked to require everyone to share pronouns at the beginning of meetings, in email signatures, and in our bios on the company website – with exactly the same reasoning that Ms. Trees puts forth. Namely, that it puts an undue burden on the differently gendered folks (? not sure what the proper wording is here) to be the only ones sharing their pronouns, and that it’s a privilege to be correctly gendered by your colleagues and clients.

Thus far the company hasn’t acquiesced to all of the demands, but I’m sure we’re on our way. We’re in one of the most liberal parts of the country. With the demographic we largely hire (20-something grads from “prestigious” colleges), the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed a train.

I have a senior leadership role, and I know the time will come for me when it’s no longer good enough to keep my head down and use people’s names rather than their pronouns. I’m sure that I’ll be forced to make a choice, and will likely lose my job over it. Or I’ll need to leave first. I long to go back to a time when the words “cisgender” and “ze/hir” weren’t something I discussed every day. Alas, that ship has sailed. Needless to say, I have the Ben Op book on loan from the library!

Read that again. Send it to everyone you know. This is exactly how it happens, people. Those who say that gender theory is only a preoccupation of the crazypants academic left have no idea what they’re talking about. This stuff may start in universities, but it doesn’t stay there. There has never been a fad that corporate Human Resources departments don’t seize on to justify their existence. And corporate lawyers will be advising their clients to adopt this insanity as a way to protect themselves from “hostile workplace” lawsuits. (Another reason to be mindful of the judiciary as you vote.)

Let me say it as clearly as I can: you cannot hide from this stuff. It is coming. The people who tell you not to worry about it are either fools or liars.

You had better start thinking and planning now for how you are going to deal with it. From The Benedict Option:

I have talked to a number of Christians, in fields as diverse as law, banking, and education, who face increasing pressure within their corporations and institutions to publicly declare themselves “allies” of LGBT colleagues. In some instances, employees are given the opportunity to wear special badges advertising their allyship. Naturally if one doesn’t wear the badge, she is likely to face questions from co-workers and even shunning.

These workers fear that this is soon going to serve as a de facto loyalty oath for Christian employees—and if they don’t sign it, so to speak, it will mean the end of their jobs and possibly even their careers. To sign the oath, they believe, would be the modern equivalent of burning a pinch of incense before a statue of Caesar. It will be impossible in most places to get licenses to work without affirming sexual diversity dogma.

For example, in 2016 the American Bar Association voted to add an “anti-harassment” rule to its Model Code of Conduct, one that if adopted by state bars would make it simply discussing issues having to do with homosexuality (among other things) impossible without risking professional sanction—unless one takes the progressive side of the argument.

Along those lines, it will be very difficult to have open dialogue in many workplaces without putting oneself in danger. One Christian professor on a secular university’s science faculty declined to answer a question I had about the biology of homosexuality, out of fear that anything he said, no matter how innocuous and fact-based, could get him brought up on charges within his university, as well as attacked by social media mobs. Everyone working for a major corporation will be frog-marched through “diversity and inclusion” training and will face pressure not simply to tolerate LGBT co-workers but to affirm their sexuality and gender identity.

Plus, companies that don’t abide by state and federal antidiscrimination statutes covering LGBTs will be not be able to receive government contracts. In fact, according to one religious liberty litigator who has had to defend clients against an exasperating array of antidiscrimination lawsuits, the only thing standing between an employer or employee and a court action is the imagination of LGBT plaintiffs and their lawyers.

“We are all vulnerable to such targeting,” he said.

Says a religious liberty lawyer, “There is no looming resolution to these conflicts; no plateau that we’re about to reach. Only intensification. It’s a train that won’t stop so long as there is momentum and track.”

David Gushee, a well-known Evangelical ethicist who holds an aggressively progressive stance on gay issues, published a column in 2016 noting that the middle ground is fast disappearing on the question of whether discrimination against gays and lesbians for religious reasons should be tolerated. “Neutrality is not an option,” he wrote. “Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”

You have been warned. If you don’t know how you will react when your company compels you to affirm these lies, you’re going to find out. Are you willing to lose your job over it? Where will you draw the line? Again, as the prosecutorially liberal Evangelical David Gushee puts it: “Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”

For those who plan to collaborate, or who feel they have no real choice for whatever reason, here is some advance preparation material, courtesy of the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee. This will be on the test, bigot:

UPDATE: From a reader whose name I know, and who has privately provided me with the name of his institution for identification purposes:

I read your post earlier from the reader who spoke of growing pressure at his job towards mandatory conformity with trans ideology on pronouns. He mentioned that he was in a particularly liberal part of the country, so I thought I would chime in with my experience from a rather different part of the country: the Deep South.

I’ve mentioned to you before (I think) that I work for a state institution down here. In the last couple of months, a diversity officer has been badgering employees with requests for us to sign up for LGBT safe space training, which will conclude with us having the option to publicly affirm queer and trans ideology by placing a sticker on our desks / doors certifying ourselves as allies. A few weeks ago, one of the employees anonymously wrote a short passage extolling the abolition of the gender binary on an office whiteboard for everyone to read. The passage has remained up for a few weeks.

For the time being, this is comparatively mild. The training is optional, and given the milieu in which all of this is taking place, I don’t think the institution could get away with forcing anything like this on us yet, as I suspect is likely going to happen with many private businesses.

Nevertheless, these are foreboding harbingers even now because of the response I know would be provoked if someone were to publicly challenge any of this. A trans poem and optional safe space training are annoying, but not necessarily particularly threatening in themselves. It’s when you consider what would happen to you if you criticized either, the picture becomes markedly darker. If I were to write a short quote from Jordan Peterson next to the queer passage on the white board stating that no one should be compelled to affirm someone else’s pronouns, I would without any question be ostracized by my coworkers, to the point that I would likely have to resign. (Every single one whose views I know hold openly anti-traditional beliefs on sexuality, and one has compared evangelicals to the Taliban on social media.) If I had a different supervisor – mine is comparatively lenient – there is a decent chance I would risk getting fired unless I publicly apologized for doing so.

To those who would say that things as trivial as a poem or optional training are hardly an instance of forcing an ideology down people’s throats, I would reply that if the workplace environment is such that questioning either would get you kicked out, they’re an instance of forcing an ideology down people’s throats. Force doesn’t have to be openly displayed for people to know it’s there and ready to be wielded against dissenters.

I repeat, this is in the Deep South. It’s milder than what several other of your readers have spoken of, but if this is going on here, I can’t imagine that things are going to stay much better in more liberal parts of the country for long.

Here’s what people like these diversity officers and their programs, and the activists within institutions who push for them, end up doing: creating a deep well of resentment, even hatred, within those who are pushed around by them. No sane person will want to talk to these Sainted Diverse, for fear that the Saints might turn on them, denounce them, and get them fired. The workplace will go from being a place where ordinary, flawed people labor together to being a minefield where one false move can blow your career sky-high. And people oppressed like this will come to hate, really hate, their oppressors.

“Tolerance” = oppression

“Diversity” = uniformity

“Safe Space” = ideological minefield

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

leave a comment

Latest Articles