Home/Rod Dreher/Trump’s Progressive Allies

Trump’s Progressive Allies

With enemies like these, does President Trump need friends? (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Turns out that the President of the United States is afraid to work in the Oval Office, partly out of fear that his own people will betray him: 

Maintaining a sanctuary to work and think has taken on greater importance for the president as he increasingly feels under siege by the Democratic impeachment inquiry. Frustrated by the whistleblower complaint and a parade of administration officials testifying on Capitol Hill, Trump is as wary as ever of the staffers around him and distrustful of the traditional White House infrastructure. Working from his private quarters gives him space away from what he perceives as prying eyes and guards against his omnipresent fear of leaks to the media.

It also gives Trump a greater sense of control as he faces the dual challenges of impeachment and his reelection, according to interviews with a half dozen current and former senior administration officials.

“The Oval presents itself as historic and it gives off a sense of power, but the residence has a sense of exclusivity,” said a former senior administration official, describing Trump’s affinity for conducting business there. “He works more in the residence because he is not constrained there by staffers knocking on the door.”

Good grief.

And yet, even if our embattled and not-entirely-sane president might win re-election, even if impeached. Why? Because as crazy as he is, to many of us, the idea of him staying on for four more years is not as scary as the Left coming to power. Mediaite columnist John Ziegler says the climate protest that stopped the Harvard-Yale game over the weekend may be a small thing, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that could help Trump’s re-election. Here’s why:

I get mocked on Twitter all the time whenever I mention a crazy episode like this helping Trump’s re-election efforts. Obviously, no one is going into the voting booth next November with this debacle on their minds (though, now that this horrible precedent has been set, I can see stuff like this happening more frequently and becoming a prominent news topic).

Instead, what I mean by this is that there is a whole group of key voters, particularly in critical states, who are more than willing to ditch Trump as long as that doesn’t mean giving liberals the power to completely mess with their lives in a radical way. Seeing a major college football game almost destroyed because of this kind of liberal nonsense and overt hypocrisy is the exact type of story which makes those voters very nervous about handing everything over to a bunch of lunatics.

As I have said many times before, Trump’s political rocket-ship is fueled by the extremely negative reaction Middle America has to political correctness. What the kids at Yale did was just add a bit more gas to his tank (which is ironic given their protest of fossil fuels).

If you read it all, you’ll see that the Yale authorities appeared to indulge the student climate-change protesters, not have them immediately removed from the field. Ziegler observes that it’s unthinkable that had pro-life demonstrators shut down the most important game of the year, and in a stadium in which its impossible to play in the dark (because Yale Stadium has no lights), the school administrators would have had them hauled off at once. But as we know, elite colleges, like many American institutions, pamper left-wing brats.

Again, if you think that Ziegler (and I) claim that voters in Wisconsin are going to go into the voting booth next fall thinking about the Harvard-Yale game, you’re being silly. It’s rather that these things — like Ann Coulter and her fans needed heavy police protection to meet at Berkeley — accumulate, and signal to normal people that the loony Left cannot be trusted with power. Not all liberals are like the nutters, but many liberals are afraid to stand up to the nutters. This comment on the Coulter-Berkeley thread speaks about this concern:

I’m a senior university administrator, and whenever I read about protests like this I ask myself, “Are the conservative news sources I read cherry picking these incidents, which are unfortunate but fairly rare (given the thousands of talks that occur without incident every month at universities across the U.S.)?” Yet the answer I give myself is not reassuring.

Yes, it’s true that at my campus we have never had a major de-platforming incident. But the reason, I’m quite sure, is that our faculty and students self-censor to such a great extent that we rarely, if ever, invite conservative speakers to give talks. Why would we, they are wrong about everything, and our mission is to teach “The Truth”, right?

Once a group of students independently tried to invite an internationally known conservative politician, very high profile, and our faculty nipped it in the bud immediately. Incidents like the one described in this article are simply the most visible symptom of a much deeper, festering disease, let’s say the outward manifestations of Stage 4 of a cancer that has been lurking in the bone marrow for some time. The observers, which include many of my “moderate” (read, just slightly left of center) colleagues, who claim that the campus free speech hysteria on the right is overblown, are willfully ignoring the chilling effect of an ideology that permeates every aspect of our institution. We don’t have these protests because it would simply not occur to anyone to invite a right wing speaker (or, God forbid, a “Controversial” right wing speaker!).

Just last week I was told by a faculty member, who was interviewing prospective students, he had spoken with a very impressive woman, a self-described conservative, who somewhat sheepishly inquired whether we had “diversity” at our campus (his description of her to me was revealing, he said, “she’s a conservative, BUT she was very smart”). “Of course!” he replied, “we have students from many countries, races, backgrounds, etc.” She replied that what she meant was diversity of opinion, of thought. He tells me he pointed out that we were still teaching “the great books” (you know, old white men), so yes, definitely.

I initially asked him to put her in touch with me, I would beseech her to give us a chance, tell her that there was at least one like-minded person on the campus (albeit in the administration). But ultimately I think that it would not be fair of me to invite her into our liberal lion’s den, would it? Of course if her alternatives are Yale, Georgetown, et al, then perhaps we are the lesser of evils, I don’t know.

Madeleine Kearns’s utterly chilling National Review piece on the politicization of pediatric gender identity care is another instance of what happens when the activist left takes over an institution — in this case, key institutions in medicine. Excerpts:

Then there is a third option — informed by an ideology according to which it is possible for a child to be “born in the wrong body.” In this option, clinical activists recommend a drastic response when a child expresses confusion about gender. First, parents should tell the child, however young, that he truly is the sex he identifies with. Second, parents should consider delaying his puberty through off-label uses of drugs that can have serious (and largely unstudied) side effects. Third, parents should consider giving their child the puberty experience of the opposite sex, through cross-sex hormonal injections and gels (which result in sterility). Finally, parents should consider greenlighting the surgical removal of their child’s reproductive organs.

Since there are no objective tests to confirm a transgender diagnosis, all of this is arbitrary and dependent on a child’s changeable feelings. To make aggressive treatment more acceptable, its advocates have come up with a media-friendly euphemism, “gender affirmation.” If it’s affirming, activists say, it’s also kindness, love, acceptance, and support. The opposite, trying to help a child feel more comfortable with his body, is a rejection: abuse, hatred, “transphobia,” or “conversion therapy” likely to lead to child suicide. This is a lie — a lie designed to obscure a critical truth: that neither a child, nor his parents on his behalf, can truly consent to experimental, life-altering, and irreversible treatments for which there is no evidentiary support.

More:

In his deposition in the James Younger case, Dr. Hopewell stated that “you’re not going to cut off [healthy] body parts unless something’s wrong with your thinking.” But Dr. Olson-Kennedy — again, the head of the largest transgender-youth clinic in the United States and one of the leaders of a publicly funded NIH study — took a rather different view in her own deposition. Younger’s lawyer, Logan Odeneal, asked Olson-Kennedy whether it is safe or ethical to remove healthy breast tissue from adolescent girls as young as 13, as has been recommended at her clinic.

Odeneal: Well, if you remove the breasts from a young woman, she will never be able to lactate or to breastfeed an infant; is that correct?

Olson-Kennedy: Well, I, I don’t advocate removal for breast tissue from young women. I advocate for chest reconstruction in young men.

Odeneal: Well haven’t you referred girls to have the chest surgery from your clinic?

Olson-Kennedy: They’re, they’re, they’re not girls. They’re not girls. They don’t identify as girls. So I have referred people who identify as transmasculine or as boys or young men for surgery, yes.

Odeneal: But do their birth certificates identify them as girls?

Olson-Kennedy: Sometimes, and sometimes they’ve had their gender marker changed on their birth certificate.

Odeneal: How many patients have you referred for the chest surgery?

Olson-Kennedy: Probably about 200.

When Odeneal asked whether the procedure involved the removal of “healthy” breast tissue, Olson-Kennedy explained that she takes “issue with the word ‘healthy’” since it’s not healthy “if it’s creating a lot of distress in their life.” Elsewhere, she told an audience, “If you want breasts at a later point in your life you can go and get them.”

The National Institutes of Health study on early intervention in transgender youth that Olson-Kennedy oversees along with three others involves multiple sites and hundreds of participants. In a talk at an activist-clinician conference in September of this year, she explained that the study was “observational” and didn’t have a control group (a group of participants receiving the standard, accepted treatment for the purposes of comparison). “When we first put this grant into the NIH five years ago, they came back with primary concern that we didn’t have an untreated control group. Yeah, so we’re not going to have an untreated control group, I’m warning you right now,” she said, prompting audience laughter.

Presumably, Olson-Kennedy’s reasoning for not having a control group is that it is unethical for a physician to treat (or not treat) a patient in a way he considers not to be in the patient’s best interests. Olson-Kennedy told Younger’s lawyer, Odeneal, that the reason this study does not have a control group is “because not treating people with gender dysphoria who are seeking treatment is unethical practice.” Does this mean she considers treatments other than gender affirmation “not treating” patients? If so, to repeat, the evidence for gender affirmation is unclear and unconvincing, while the majority of children who have been managed under a watchful-waiting or talk-therapy strategy have apparently improved. The latter is the clinical standard for which there is the most substantial, albeit imperfect, evidence of effectiveness and safety. I have to speculate here because, although Olson-Kennedy agreed to an interview last summer, she twice failed to dial in at the appointed time to the conference number her office had emailed me. Her office has since gone dark.

More:

Ordinarily, when investigating complicated and life-altering treatments emerging in medicine (and especially pediatrics), investigators must follow a series of steps: First, the researchers must demonstrate to their institution’s Institutional Review Board that their treatment is credible and ethical. Second, the patients and parents of children must sign an informed-consent paper, with emphasis on the word “informed,” especially if the treatment is experimental. Third, the group of patients receiving the treatment must be paired with a control group that is treated in more standard fashion.

But why is the NIH facilitating this study on early intervention among trans youth in the first place? What do they hope to learn? What kind of information about risks has been given to parents and children? These are some of the questions to which I might have found answers if the relevant documents, which a concerned medical doctor obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, had not been so heavily redacted, most notably in the sections related to informed consent. Does the NIH, or do those in charge of this study, have something to hide?

Please, please read it all. This could happen to your family. This is a national scandal. Mind you, the Trump Administration and GOP lawmakers, to my knowledge, are doing little or nothing to stop this medical abuse. They should! Do they really think that the public, once it knows the facts, would be against them? In any case, they may not be trying to stop it, but we know — we know — that a Democratic administration would fast-track these atrocious policies.

These stories in which doctors lop the breasts off of teenage girls, or peeling the skin off a boy’s penis and inverting it to make a fake vagina, are a long, long way from Yale Stadium or the faculty lounge. But there is a continuum here. Left-wing extremists are controlling institutions, mostly because liberals within those institutions and fields are afraid to say no to whatever the extremists want. And conservative lawmakers are afraid to touch this stuff too.

Many, many people feel powerless to stop these cultural revolutionaries. (By the way, I’ve reached out to the reader who commented here the other day about his wife, a Chinese immigrant who saw people killed during the madness of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, bursting into tears when she saw the raging mob at Berkeley on the TV news the other night; she wept because she fears for her adopted country, and doesn’t understand why Americans can’t see the mounting danger. I am going to have an interview with her in this space soon.) Anyway, people don’t know what to do about this. One thing they feel that they can do is throw a roadblock in front of the militants’ triumphal march through the institutions, by voting for Trump. It is a vote of despair, maybe, but what other choice do they have? Vote Democratic, and acquiesce in their conquest by cultural revolutionaries?

I received the other day the galleys of Ross Douthat’s upcoming (February 25, 2020) book The Decadent Society. My initial impression, based on reading around in it: this is going to be his best and most important book yet. I’ll give a full review when it’s out. In it, I was pleased to run across this quote from a Freddie de Boer blog post from a while back. Freddie, as you’ll recall, is not a liberal, but a true man of the Left:

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.

And in 2020, some of them are going to run right into the arms of Donald Trump, not because they love him, but because they fear and loathe the alternative.

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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