The Normal Vs. The Lie
The indispensable Wes Yang writes on his latest Substack, in part:
A few years ago, when my daughter was five, I took her to an event at a newly opened commercial playspace where I live in Montreal. The event had been advertised as a "Rainbow Party," which in retrospect ought to have given me more pause. (I wondered about it just long enough to dismiss the possibility that it was going to be what it turned out to be.) It began with an extremely flamboyant young man, perhaps a bit more than five feet tall, reading to a group of children around my daughter's age, from a children's book about an LBGTQ pride parade, replete with pictures of leathermen and other marchers dressed in cartoony renditions of the kink gear that is now omni-present at these events.
The children did not seem very attentive to the story. Doubtless few — preferably none — had any of the context required to pick up on its sexualized trappings, which were depicted in the background rather than featuring in the story’s plot. But it was an exhibition of something I would not have thought possible prior to seeing it myself: an open invitation, within a para-pedagogical setting, for the youngest children to revel in the atmosphere of queer bacchanalia sustained at Pride parades, which toggle between a candy-colored neon aesthetic disturbingly convergent with the things that attract and delight young children — rainbows, faeries, sparkles, unicorns, glitter butterflies — and sporadic eruptions of the rawest carnality.
I looked around at the faces of the other parents, none marked by any outward sign as the sort of people who would consider it a great moral imperative to expose their young children to the panoply of forms of sexual and gender expression beyond the heteronormative. They all looked like very ordinary straight, middle-class parents. We were in a large city where a certain default liberalism no doubt obtained. But my understanding of what that category encompassed had not kept up with the changing times. A major software update was being pushed out. Would we accept?
I have always found Pride parades to be nuisances when I have found myself stuck in them — maudlin try-hard exhibitions by those intent on treating their base appetites as accomplishments — rather than frightening threats to the civilized order. It would not, of course, pass muster among cynical urbanites to feel threatened by such displays. The correct position was to see the marchers as needy dorks, recent transplants from the provinces feeling their oats in cringe-inducing spasms rather than Satanic influences trying to corrupt the youth. Underneath the carnival of transgression, there was always a room temperature banality to these daytime open-air proceedings, which invariably included many young children among the onlookers.
Read the whole thing: he has lots of thoughts on how a radical minority and a passive public prepared the culture to accept the grotesque and evil. Among them, this reflection on how he and all the other parents at that reading found themselves mute:
This was the source of the docility. We all understood implicitly in that moment that where once we had lived in a culture that would have penalized those who had exposed children to material normalizing a queer bacchanal, we were transitioning to a culture that would penalize anyone who would resist exposure of children to material normalizing a queer bacchanal.
This happened, he said, because the radicals had already seized control of all the norms-defining institutions in the culture.
Yang makes a very good point at one juncture: his daughter is growing up with partnered gay uncles on both sides of her family, and with many examples in her life of non-heteronormativity. She has always accepted this as how things were. If learning to accept this were the goal, then neither his kid nor anybody else's kids would have had to have been exposed to the polymorphous perversities of kink and other forms of sexuality, queer and otherwise. What's going on here? He doesn't say in this post; he does say he's working on a longer piece about it.
How do we get to this, from last week, in an ad from a haute couturier?:
Balenciaga included this image -- of a scared little girl holding a teddy bear in bondage gear -- in its Christmas ad campaign! The fashion house apologized today, and blamed the photographer, who responded by saying he was not at all responsible for the design of the ad shoot. I believe him, though it does him no credit that he went along with this perversion. It surely came from someone inside Balenciaga in charge of its creative advertising.
Those people know exactly what they're doing. They're pushing the boundaries, as they have been doing for years, in the ways Wes Yang mentions. And the rest of us just sit back and accept it, out of fear of seeming uncool, or even bigoted. Look what they have done to us. Our children are going mad, their minds and bodies wrecked. And the sexualization of children is becoming normal now in this re-paganized culture.
About our re-paganization, Pascal-Emanuel Gobry wrote back in 2015:
In the Ancient world, it was simply taken for granted that sex was about power. The social order was defined by a hierarchy of concentric circles. At the center, the free, male, citizen, and then in concentric circles, women, freedmen, foreigners, children, and so on. The main paradigm for sex was not heterosexual/homosexual, married/unmarried, even reproductive/non-reproductive, it was active/passive or dominant/submissive, and the main taboo was for someone who was supposed to be “active” to be “passive”.
This is why sexual slavery (particularly of children) was not frowned upon, and neither was homosexuality as long as it involved an older man and a younger man so that it was clear that the relationship had an “active” and a “passive” participant. Heterosexual marriage was also perfectly understood, since women were of a lower social status than men.
It’s worth dwelling for a second on the world that these beliefs created. The practice of expositio, the exposing of infants, was widespread and unproblematic, since children were of lower status than adults. And the extant sources we have concur: the typical fate of exposed infants was either death or ‘adoption’ into slavery, which was typically sexual slavery since that was the most profitable use for a child. Brothels specializing in child sex slaves were established, legal businesses; the majority, it seems, specializing in boy sex slaves. Sources describe sex with castrated slaves as particularly exciting, and sources report that babies were sometimes castrated so that they could work in brothels later on. Pagan apologists roundly mocked the early Christians for not only not practicing expositio (an echo of which can be found in anti-Catholic Protestant polemics against teeming mackerel-snapping families) but rescuing exposed infants and adopting them.
When Suetonius condemns Tiberius because he “taught children of the most tender years, whom he called his little fishes, to play between his legs while he was in his bath” and “those who had not yet been weaned, but were strong and hearty, he set at fellatio” he is not writing with the shock and horror we would have or expecting his audience to react in that way; instead, he is essentially mocking him for lack of self-restraint and enjoying too much of a good thing.
This is the world that the people who control our corporate and cultural institutions, and the media, and yes, the Democratic Party, are bringing back, whether they realize it or not. In the world of ancient Rome, that frightened little girl from the Balenciaga ad might have been a sex slave. Think about it.
And what have our useless Republicans done in response? Suggested legislation, or even something as mild as calling hearings into the sexualization of children in popular culture, including through hardcore porn widely available on smartphones? Heavens no -- somebody might call them Tipper Gores! If not for Tucker Carlson, Chris Rufo, and a few high-profile activists, the response from the Right would be mild indeed. For that matter, what about the churches? Some have raised their voices, but if we had any kind of healthy, courageous Christianity in America, nearly all the churches -- aside, of course, from the apostate ones -- would be raising their collective voices in a howl of outrage.
But mostly, it's crickets. Life's easier that way.
We are a depraved culture that does not deserve to survive -- and at this rate, won't. A friend who escaped Communism and came to America as a young man e-mailed today, about the blood libel of the media against conservatives regarding the Colorado mass murder:
There is absolutely no way that this moment in history will roll back into some kind of reconciliation. The toxins — thanks to “social” media — have reached and poisoned even the lowest echelons of society traditionally uninterested in this stuff and definitely ill-equipped to deal with it. If lucky, we are in a Pinochet Moment. If not, Franco it is.
Joe Biden and the media liberals love to gas on about how Our Democracy is in peril from the MAGA hotheads. Maybe so, but it's truly in peril from people like them, who are relentlessly dumping their toxins into the waters we all swim in -- especially our children -- and demonizing anybody who protests, or even notices. They are calling forth a sense of disgust with our common culture that will cause all normal people -- or, let's be honest, mostly normal men -- eventually to revolt, and, as my Eastern European friend predicts, choose fascism over further degradation. I'm not saying this is what should happen; I'm saying that this is what history suggests will happen. Look at Weimar Germany. Look at pre-revolutionary Russia. No sane person could possibly want that, or anything like it.
How might we turn back from this abyss? N.S. Lyons, in this interview, suggests a way, in talking about how to roll back wokeness:
I don’t think there is any chance at all that wokeness will vanish by the end of the decade; I think even in the best case scenario it will long persist as a cult movement – a bit like Scientology, or, probably more aptly, like Jihadism. But let me reframe the question a bit to be an argument for why wokeness could have its institutional power and vice-like grip over society broadly smashed within a decade.
I think that would essentially require two things to happen at once, one bottom up and the other top down. From the bottom there would need to arise a distinct counter-culture that is explicitly anti-woke, and which – just as importantly – offers an alternative, manifestly superior, happier, and more meaningful way of life to that of the woke cult. This counter-culture would have to succeed in becoming the cool and attractive new “transgressive” mode of rebellion among younger generations. And, critically, this counter-culture would have to strongly appeal to the educated elite, not just function as an outgrowth of populism. Because what this counter-culture would have the greatest potential to accomplish is to essentially foster the growth of a new counter-elite within the woke’s own class base. I actually think this is already happening, which I consider rare cause for a little hope.
This would have to be combined, however, with exceptionally smart, focused, and determined political action from the top down aimed at fundamentally breaking the structural, legal, and institutional incentives that are primarily driving the wokeification of everything in American society (which America then exports around the world as a cultural product). That would necessarily have to begin with uprooting the explosive growth of the civil rights bureaucracy, including by repealing or amending the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which together functionally made surrender to wokeness a legal requirement for any organization of even moderate size. Sweeping executive orders mandating disparate impact assessment and other equity agendas through the federal government would also have to be replaced. Without doing so the stranglehold that HR departments – which are the key pipeline pumping cultural pollution from the academy into every corner of society – will not be broken, and wokeness will continue to proliferate. Some other top down actions by the federal government might also be necessary, namely cutting off the vast funding American tax payers provide for wokeness through subsidies to the universities and non-profit foundations. Taxing endowments, making universities directly liable for student loans, and other creative measures such as banning employers from asking about or receiving any details on where applicants received a degree (breaking elite schools’ cartel) could also have a real impact on circumscribing the power of the over-produced woke managerial elite.
There are of course many other causes of wokeness that I discussed in that piece, such as the crisis of meaning in the West. But tackling these key drivers would have the most immediate and practical impact, given that it is material incentives, not true belief, that lead most people to convert to wokeism. The phenomenon is unlikely to slow down in the slightest until those incentives have been upended. Unfortunately, I think the chances of the political opposition in the United States having the competence, focus, discipline, and fortitude to actually accomplish this are currently close to zero.
(What did I say about our useless Republicans?)
I want to draw your attention to a recent terrific long essay by the pseudonymous writer Lyons. I blogged about it the other day, but it's so good that I'm going to re-up it, and quote from it with reference to the evil that Wes Yang writes about. Here he's talking about C.S. Lewis's idea of the Tao:
If there is any Tao (objective values or base truths that do not change based on our feelings and opinions) then there must be a Normal, a proper and right ordering of things. Indeed the Normal and the Tao are the same thing. To be able to discern this Normal is to be able to exercise what we call “common sense,” or what the Greeks called phronesis, or practical wisdom: to be able to know and choose – or at least be drawn toward – the good, the true, and the beautiful by experienced instinct. And to be able to recognize through the same cultivated moral instinct when someone or something has departed from the Tao.
Therefore the first step to degrade the Tao must be to sever man from his common sense by undermining the very idea of the Normal – or, even better, to successfully deny its existence entirely. To do this (to break the human moral and aesthetic instinct) requires a form of re-education or conditioning: a perversion. Originally meaning an “action of turning aside from truth,” or a “corruption [or] distortion,” the word “perversion” derives from the Latin perversionem, “a turning about.” It is an intentional inversion of the Normal.
Sometimes the upholding the truth of objective value must bring not peace, but a sword. Saying “no” in defense of the good and the true takes men with chests – and not just in the sense of having the intuition of right and wrong, either. It takes the kind of spirited assertiveness and willingness to upset others that is not associated with geldings. Soft men cannot long walk with the Tao.
This is a core theme found across Lewis’ works. When in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, young Lucy travels to Narnia and first hears about Aslan the lion (and Christ-figure), and asks if, being a lion, he is “quite safe?” the sensibly baffled response she gets is “Safe?... Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Aslan is an embodiment of ultimate virtue. That includes love, but also righteous anger – of Aquinas’ anger in service of proper justice, or Aristotle’s anger “at the right things and towards the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time, and for the right length of time” – and he never hides his powerful capacity for it, or indeed for violence. That he nonetheless consistently chooses to act with mercy and kindness is then a choice made only greater, and truer, by this fact.
One more clip:
[A] war is indeed coming… A war to defend the Normal from the Lie. A war for the freedom to remain human. A war that can and will be won only by Men with Chests. This and no other is the true great war in our time – and indeed it is already here. We have no choice but to muster our courage and fight it, or perish.
Read the whole thing -- really, it's one of the best things anybody has written all year. If you don't subscribe to N.S. Lyons's Substack, titled The Upheaval, you are missing one of the most vital writers commenting on the contemporary scene.
Anyway, we are at war now. We are in a war to defend the Normal from the Lie. Lyons is talking about a broad sweep of issues; I am focusing on defending normal human sexuality from the lying Controllers of our culture. I am focusing on defending our children from these monsters who would corrupt them, steal their innocence, and ruin their lives. Why do we put up with this? Why do we submit to the Lies? Where is our courage? Where is our love for our children, for our community, for goodness, for God?
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In Live Not By Lies, I end by quoting Solzhenitsyn, in his final communiqué to his Russian followers before the Soviets exiled him. It's from his essay titled "Live Not By Lies," which ends like this:
And so: We need not be the first to set out on this path, Ours is but to join [the brave people who already speak out]! The more of us set out together, the thicker our ranks, the easier and shorter will this path be for us all! If we become thousands—they will not cope, they will be unable to touch us. If we will grow to tens of thousands—we will not recognize our country!
But if we shrink away, then let us cease complaining that someone does not let us draw breath—we do it to ourselves! Let us then cower and hunker down, while our comrades the biologists bring closer the day when our thoughts can be read and our genes altered.
And if from this also we shrink away, then we are worthless, hopeless, and it is of us that Pushkin askes with scorn:
Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?
Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.
War is upon us. Live not like cows with cuds, but like men with chests.