A reader writes about using the Duolingo app to help her kids with their Latin:
We are a homeschooling Catholic family, and, like many other traditionally-minded Catholics, we were excited to see that Duolingo is now offering Latin lessons (we’ve done three years of Memoria Press but are doing Spanish this year and wanted to use Duolingo to keep up our Latin skills). Anyhow, I don’t know if you’ve ever used Duolingo, but you have to complete lessons on certain topics before you can advance to the next level. I began the unit about the family this morning and have now hit a roadblock.
Because two of the sentences you have to translate from Latin to English are:
“Femina uxorem habet” and “Maritus maritum habet” (which translate as “The woman has a wife” and “The husband has a husband.”
I can’t advance until I complete these sentences. And I won’t. I’ve been filling the translation boxes first with admonitions and then with gobbledygook.
You can hardly escape this stuff. Even in Latin tutorials, they’re advocating for the Sexual Revolution. One aspect of totalitarianism is that it insists that everything that exists must be politicized. Hannah Arendt, in The Origins Of Totalitarianism, writes about the “chess for chess’s sake” problem in the Soviet Union. In the early Stalinist period, some chess masters resisted the state’s attempt to infuse chess with Bolshevik propaganda. They said that chess should be played and enjoyed for its own sake. The Soviet-appointed head of the national chess federation said to the contrary, that all things must be politicized, and understood in light of the Revolution.
So it is with the Sexual Revolution. Not even Latin lessons can be neutral.
But by now, same-sex marriage is old hat. The same flood-the-zone cultural re-education strategy that gay rights advocates used is now deployed to conquer any and all resistance to something much more radical than homosexuality: transgenderism.
Mattel’s Barbie dolls represented the traditional female image, and preteens embraced the hairstyles, thick eyelashes and spike heels that came with her. But now, Mattel is introducing dolls that let kids form the gender expression of the toy themselves. The doll is fully gender neutral and can be accessorized to be a boy, a girl, neither or both.
The company released six dolls with different skin tones, hair and clothes, calling the doll line Creatable World. Mattel said that it aims to reflect and celebrate “the positive impact of inclusivity.”
“This line allows all kids to express themselves freely, which is why it resonates so strongly with them,” said Kim Culmone, senior vice president of Mattel fashion doll design. “We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”
Of course this is all about colonizing the minds of children and compelling them to accept this berserk gender ideology at normative. This is a leading children’s toymaker contributing to the psychological breakdown of children.
Douglas Murray’s blockbuster new book The Madness Of Crowds ends with a powerful chapter on the transgender movement. Murray, who is openly gay, discusses how the trans movement has become a juggernaut that silences anyone who dissents. He writes:
Everywhere the feeling is the same. Among the crowd madnesses we are going through at the moment, trans has become like a battering ram — as though perhaps it is the last thing needed to break down some great patriarchal wall.
He talks about how parents are being deceived by schools, in accordance with official policies designed to “support” children who believe they are trans. And he talks about how among medical authorities, parents are warned that to object or question in any way what their trans-seeking children want is to set their kids up for suicide. Murray writes:
The problem with the choice being presented this way — in the most catastrophizing light possible — is that it leaves no room for discussion or dissent. Instead, the moment that a child says they think they may be of the opposite sex, they must be greeted only with acceptance and from then on only with a set of life-changing steps which an increasingly body of professionals appear to want to encourage with as little pushback as possible.
His trans chapter is sympathetic to the challenges faced by people with gender dysphoria. His objection is not to the phenomenon, but to the ideological bullying around the topic. There is only one approved opinion, and anyone who doesn’t share it (and doesn’t stay silent) faces personal and professional destruction.
Darel E. Paul’s book From Tolerance To Equality tells the story about how gay rights won by first conquering elite culture, then spreading outward. He ponders at the end whether or not trans can follow the same script successfully:
Is gender identity simply a logical extension of sexual orientation? In some ways, the answer is clearly “yes.” Their social constructions have been very similar. Both sexual orientation and gender identity advanced in America thanks to essentialist arguments. The assertion of being “born this way” has carried a great deal of cultural and political freight. This has been aided by building atop the country’s cultural core of radical individualism and the sacred self, nowhere better expressed than in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 1992 majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
But transgenderism is not like homosexuality, says Paul, in several ways. For one, it doesn’t resonate with the experiences of ordinary Americans, as homosexuality does. For another, it is problematic with relation to feminism (a fact that trans advocates strenuously try to suppress).
[T]ransgenderism is not simply another useful stick with which to beat religious conservatives. It is a radical challenge to all external forms of authority and thus to the social and cultural foundation of elite rule itself. Transgenderism is the most radical form of individualism yet produced by the Sexual Revolution. Gender identity is self-authenticating in a far more extreme fashion than sexual orientation has ever been. … The legal authority of doctors and parents crumbles as gender identity becomes self-defined.
Paul goes on:
The rapid normalization of transgenderism among elites is a symptom of a larger crisis. Elites are failing to exercise authority. Meritocracy’s promise is deference to the superior technical knowledge of elites in exchange for efficient and effective social outcomes. Increasing numbers of Americans see that project as a failure. The evidence is all around. Confidence in all institutions — whether the state, the professions, or big business — drags along near forty-year lows.
I think this is an underappreciated point. Believe what you want to believe about Ukrainian diplomacy, health care policy, immigration, and so forth. There is almost nothing more fundamental to a society than the way it regards males and females. Does it not trouble you even a little bit that we can’t have a public discussion about transgenderism beyond talking about whether it’s one of the greatest things in history, or absolutely the greatest thing in history? Douglas Murray tells horrific stories about how feminists and others have been smashed by trans campaigners and their allies, simply for raising uncomfortable questions, or objecting to trans claims.
There’s something extremely sinister going on here, and it’s not just the totalitarian silencing of debate. It’s creepy things like Drag Queen Story Hour, and Mattel’s training children to normalize genderfluidity through playing with certain toys. Elite culture is massively screwing up a generation of children, and our political, business, academic, and cultural leadership is making it happen.
The Republican Party is almost useless here, because none of them will stand up openly for common sense. But I’ll take almost over what the Democrats offer. All the Democratic presidential candidates, and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, support the Equality Act, which writes transgender ideology into federal law. The Republicans do not. That’s not nothing. In fact, it’s about the only thing ordinary people have left to protect them from the state forcing this ideology onto them.
People who wonder why Christian conservatives, and other social conservatives, are not willing to give Trump up despite his awful behavior in office ought to stop and think about this. The Democratic Party is on record supporting a federal law that declares sex is whatever an individual claims it to be. This law would have serious consequences. It would mean that the Sexual Revolution (cleverly characterized by Michael Hanby as the technological revolution applied to the body) has at last become a totalitarian project.
The left has created a world in which physicians and schoolteachers conspire against parents to jack their children up with hormones and prepare them to mutilate their bodies in a vain effort to become the opposite sex. For those on the left who have already accepted the ideology, this is a righteous cause. For those who have not, and who see it as their responsibility to protect their children from this madness, it’s difficult to see why Trump’s personal corruption is a greater threat to the social order than this.
Paul says that transgenderism is a crisis of elite authority. I hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but he’s got a point: when the top leadership in America — political, corporate, academic, media, cultural — all tells you that men can become women and vice versa, just by an act of the will, and works to mandate the acceptance of this perverse ideology, and even catechize children in its precepts … well, to hell with the elites. They’ve lost their minds, and their moral authority.
UPDATE: Reader Nate J.:
I don’t think it can be overstated just how much meaning this woke BS provides to a generation devoid of meaning (as a recent post of yours showed).
I went to school with a girl who now believes herself to be a man by virtue of pumping herself full of testosterone and mutilating her breasts. Throughout school she was a female. Throughout post-secondary, she was a female. She married a heterosexual man and was a “wife”. She was a female for the first ~30 years of her life and, given her marriage, a heterosexual one.
Almost every single day now, her social media feed contains some post about how some big, bad conservative government somewhere is ATTACKING LGBTQ RIGHTS! or some particularly condescending web comic “explaining” how the latest made-up progressive buzzword works (I think the other day it was about “deadnaming” or some such nonsense) or about her life as a “gay man” in a “gay marriage”. That last bit always struck me as somewhat bizarre given society’s insistence on the fixed nature of sexuality. Presumably, the husband was blissfully unaware that he was, in fact, a gay man for the first 5 or 6 years of his marriage.
As I started to pay attention to the content of the things being posted, and especially the tone, it became clear how much meaning they find in these memes and web comics and news stories that make them feel like part of the #resistance. Both of them are socially awkward and, having gone to school with one of them, unpopular types. I can say with some confidence that both are likely on the autism spectrum. Since the hormones have begun, this woman’s story of transitioning to male has garnered her attention and acceptance like you wouldn’t believe, at least at the superficial level of social media validation.
The content that gets posted sometimes has a strong whiff of hero fantasy to it–you know, like when you’re in the shower and you “win” an argument against some non-existent opponent in your head. Except they put it out there publicly, these condescending and combative rebukes against opponents they have never seen or experienced (and, thanks to the culture of fear and self-censorship that exists around any criticism of contemporary gender ideology, they never will).
At once, they are bold heroes and humble martyrs. They are the oppressed, but members of the “in” crowd for once. You can see where the totalitarian impulse comes from. This is where they get their meaning from. Their political agenda absolutely must win–and must win totally–because what else is there? Exerting this cultural power has to make them happy because they were promised it would. There is always this insecurity, this resistance to just settling in and living a “normal” life as they now have every ability to do.
The agenda has to be pushed another step further in order for them to stay in a constant state of angst, half-way between victim and hero. Mere comfortable existence is not enough. For people who just wanted to “live and let live” or be “comfortable in their own bodies”, I just don’t see it. Nobody truly at peace would obsess about his or her identity this much.