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Liberal Self-Recrimination

Won't some white liberal please come down and give this man some transgender awareness? (Pavel Shlykov/Shutterstock)

See Google’s homepage today? It informs us that Google is “supporting the transgender community.” Click on the link, and it takes you to a page dedicated to “celebrating transgender changemakers.” Because this is Transgender Awareness Week. As if every single day wasn’t Transgender Awareness Day among the cultural elites.

To this point, a Catholic reader writes:

I’m not a big Michael Sean Winters fan, but he had a good paragraph on Friday:

I am friendly with two families that have a transgender child. I know how difficult and challenging this situation is, and how little we know about the phenomenon. I am deeply sympathetic to how an issue like which bathroom you can use will affect a child going through the already difficult teen years. But, when the attorney general had a big press conference to announce a lawsuit against North Carolina on the issue, I remembered something my mother used to say when I would not let a given issue go: “You don’t have to make a federal case out of it.” From the time spent this year discussing transgender rights, you would think it was one of the most pressing national issues. Was any such attention lavished on less trendy causes like the dearth of health care in poor rural areas? Same goes for lighting up the White House after the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Did Obama ever think of lighting up the White House for something important to white, rural Americans?

Winters also quotes someone named Krystal Ball who writes for HuffPo. Ball said:

They said they were facing an economic apocalypse, we offered “retraining” and complained about their white privilege. Is it any wonder we lost? One after another, the dispatches came back from the provinces. The coal mines are gone, the steel mills are closed, the drugs are rampant, the towns are decimated and everywhere you look depression, despair, fear. In the face of Trump’s willingness to boldly proclaim without facts or evidence that he would bring the good times back, we offered a tepid gallows logic. Well, those jobs are actually gone for good, we knowingly told them. And we offered a fantastical non-solution. We will retrain you for good jobs! Never mind that these “good jobs” didn’t exist in East Kentucky or Cleveland. And as a final insult, we lectured a struggling people watching their kids die of drug overdoses about their white privilege.

Back to Winters, who is very much on the Catholic left:

It is true that economics drives much of what ails rural America, which rose up en masse to defeat Clinton. But, the problem is deeper than that and it is vital that the left grasps this: Voters doubted Trump had the answers to the economic problems they face, but they voted for change anyway. They were tired of being talked down to and ignored. Think of the horrific phrase “the right side of history” that has been coming from the left throughout debates of issues like same-sex marriage. It is fine to tell someone you disagree with them on the issue and why you think they are wrong. But telling them they are on “the wrong side of history” tells them you think they are a bumpkin with no future. To be clear, this election was not fought on social issues per se, but the condescension with which the left framed those issues angered many people.

Democrats talk a lot about inclusion and it is indeed a value for us Catholics, one that Pope Francis speaks of with great frequency and fervor. But, poor rural whites never made it on the list of people who needed to be included.

Read the whole thing.

A left-of-center reader sent me approvingly this “epic rant” from a UK writer named Colum Paget. Here’s an excerpt, sanitized for your protection™, but with the original spelling and grammar left intact:

As a white man from a working-class background, I find it difficult to applaud the ‘progress’ of the upper classes suddenly realizing what a smart move it is to pack out power positions in society with their daughters as well as their sons. Frankly one is left wondering why they didn’t click to this wheeze sooner. Why did you make your daughter fight for the position? Was it to ‘build character’ or something? But with the rise of the ‘femocracy’ we can all applaud as Donald Trump drops Ivanka into a plum position along with Eric and Donald Junior. In the meantime the working class woman finds that, even if she gets a degree, doors are not open to her in the way they are for women born into the connected classes. The working class man finds that his employment is going overseas. Many working-class people of color find that nothing changes for them, despite all the concern about whether actors of color win Oscars or whether the Hugo awards are too white.

The great battles of the past years have been the Culture Wars, in which ‘liberal’ lefties have exhibited the opposite of liberal tendencies. Indeed, the modern political left is so middle-class that it resembles the days of Mary Whitehouse, being obsessed by pointless protestant Christian values of decorum and decency. Is there too much boobage in video games? Are female characters sufficiently covered up in ‘sensible armor’ or preferably in a high-tech burka like Seamus Aran, that completely conceals their gender? I don’t doubt that this constant warring in our cultural spaces is another thing that’s made numerous lifetime enemies for the political left. While western foreign policy has reduced the middle east to a live action Goya nightmare, global warming has begun to lay its clammy fingers on our planet and inequality has risen to new highs, the latte left have mostly been concerned with fighting internet misogyny and attempting to enforce total ideological purity in universities.

In many ways Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the apex of this champagne-feminist madness. I don’t blame Hilary, who I think is unfairly hated, and who in some ways strikes me as a modern Lady Jean Grey: surrounded by people telling her she’s going to be Queen without really having done the work to make it possible. The insider skinny was that Bill Clinton was constantly bemoaning the need to reach out to rural and working class whites. However, he was overridden by ‘experts’ who, as so many people in leftist politics now think in terms of ‘white supremacy’ and ‘patriarchy’ basically said “F**k those redneck neckbeard dudebros, this is about a woman getting to be president.” Thus the campaign appeared to be about Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem ticking off an item on their feminist bucket list.

I am savoring this stuff not simply for reasons of Schadenfreude, but also because it’s salutary to see this kind of deep and unsparing self-examination in the wake of failure. If we on the right had gone through this at any point in the past eight years after our losses, things might look different today. The GOP Establishment and movement conservatism has itself to blame for the hostile takeover by Donald J. Trump.

Anyway, you Silicon Valley people keep celebrating Transgender Awareness. This morning I’m thinking about the small-town Louisiana elementary school teachers I spent some time with four years ago, when they invited me to drive over to their school to talk about the book I wrote about my schoolteacher sister. One of the things my sister had done, and that I wrote about, was reach out to nurture impoverished children in her classroom, of which there were more than a few. After my talk, I sat around with the teachers in this school talking about this. It was eye-opening to say the least. These teachers — all of whom were making public school teacher salaries in Louisiana, which isn’t a lot — shared stories about how they were spending their own money to help clothe little children in their classes. Over and over I heard stories of childhood suffering because of parental neglect. No father in the home. Mothers strung out on drugs. It was J.D. Vance stuff, and it was black kids and white kids both. The teachers didn’t really have the money to do what they were doing, but the alternative was to watch innocent kids suffer. So they did what they could, knowing that it would never be enough.

You will never see a Google awareness day for people like those children, or their self-sacrificing teachers. The people who run Google are not aware of them, and don’t want to be. I think about the white poor and working class people I know personally, and how hard life is for them. If they bothered to vote at all, I’m sure they all went for Trump. I agree with J.D. Vance: the idea that Donald Trump is going to fix their problems is a mirage, in part because some of those problems are self-inflicted. But at least Donald Trump sees them, and doesn’t see them as the Enemy.

I wish the Michael Sean Winterses and Colum Pagets well in their crusade to slap their own side out of its ideologically induced stupor, and to return to the real world, where, believe it or not, there are worse evils than little old lady florists who decline to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, and charter schools that must be destroyed because it prefers not to mainstream transgenderism to its kindergartners.

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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