It’s The Little Things
A reader writes:
Here’s a follow-up of sorts to the e-mail I sent you a couple weeks ago with the RiteAid vaccine form asking for “sex assigned at birth.” The screenshot below is from Activity Hero (activityhero.com), a very popular site that parents use to find and sign up for children’s day camps, classes, and other activities. Many organizations use its services and direct you there to register and pay. As I was updating my children’s profiles, I noticed some new choices — see the screenshot below. I’ve removed identifying information. I clicked on “Custom” for gender and for “How do you prefer to be addressed?” to show the boxes that appear for entering your child’s “custom gender” and “custom pronoun.” (It’s not clear from the way it’s presented, but they are asking for the child’s gender and pronoun, not “yours.” And of course they really mean “referred to” rather than “addressed.”)Once something like this starts to spread, there’s no stopping it these days. The wide array of sex/gender/pronoun options will very quickly become the new norm, and resisters and stragglers will be a-woke-n by hook or by crook to the need to go beyond the binary boxes we’ve been forced into all these millenia. I mean, why wouldn’t you adopt the new, inclusive scheme? It doesn’t hurt anyone to offer the choices — but it may save a child’s life. Do you really hate trans people that much?And once it’s established — who will change the forms (bathroom doors, etc.) back to the old ways, even if the trans-fad passes? The ratchet effect will apply, and we’ll be stuck with it for a very long time.
In Poland, Skibiński explains, the only long-lasting social institutions that existed were the church and the family. In the twentieth century, the twin totalitarianisms tried to capture and destroy the Polish Catholic Church. Communism attempted to break apart the family by maintaining a monopoly on education and teaching young people to be dependent on the state. It also sought to lure the young away from the church by convincing them that the state would be the guarantors of their sexual freedom.
“The thing is, now such tendencies come from the West, which we have always looked up to, and regarded as a safe place,” he says. “But now many Poles start to develop the awareness that the West is no longer safe for us.
“What we see now is an attempt to destroy the last surviving communities: the family, the church, and the nation. This is one connection between liberalism and communist theory.”
Skibiński focuses on language as a preserver of cultural memory. We know that communists forbade people to talk about history in unapproved ways. This is a tactic today’s progressives use as well, especially within universities.
What is harder for contemporary people to appreciate is how we are repeating the Marxist habit of falsifying language, hollowing out familiar words and replacing them with a new, highly ideological meaning. Propaganda not only changes the way we think about politics and contemporary life but it also conditions what a culture judges worth remembering.
I mention the way liberals today deploy neutral-sounding, or even positive, words like dialogue and tolerance to disarm and ultimately defeat unaware conservatives. And they imbue other words and phrases—hierarchy, for example, or traditional family—with negative connotations.
Recalling life under communism, the professor continues, “The people who lived only within such a linguistic sphere, who didn’t know any other way to speak, they could really start believing in this way of using of words. If a word carries with it negative baggage, it becomes impossible to have a discussion about the phenomenon.”
Teaching current generations of college students who grew up in the postcommunist era is challenging because they do not have a natural immunity to the ideological abuse of language. “For me, it’s obvious. I remember this false use of language. But for our students, it’s impossible to understand.”
How did people keep hold of reality under communist conditions? How do they know not only what to remember but how to remember it? The answer was to create distinct small communities—especially families and religious fellowships—in which it was possible both to speak truthfully and to embody truth.
“They had social spaces where the real meaning of words was preserved,” he says. “For me, it’s less important to argue with such a view of the world”—progressivism, he means—“than to describe reality as it is. For example, our task is to show people what a normal, monogamous family looks like.”
To paraphrase Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is not by winning an argument but by keeping yourself grounded in reality that you carry on the human heritage.
We have to insist among ourselves, at least, that we call things by their true names. We have to teach our children, as Vaclav and Kamila Benda did, as anticommunist dissidents in Prague, that the picture of the world given to us by the world is a malevolently constructed lie. This is very difficult to do, and most people will not want to do it. Most people will capitulate. Most people capitulated to the Communist lie.
But what choice is there? Look at the stakes. Live not by lies.