On trans and much else, NR bucks the new orthodoxies.
The world may have gone crazy, but, at National Review, our answer remains steadfastly “No.” No, we don’t believe the nonsense we’re being sold. No, we won’t believe the nonsense we’re being sold. No, we don’t believe anyone else believes the nonsense we’re being sold, either.
It doesn’t matter if you throw a tantrum. The press may acquiesce, human resources may gather its forces — but our answer will still be “No.” Shout, complain, send an indignant Gish gallop, it’s “No.” We see the Emperor, we see that he’s naked as all hell, and we have no intention of pretending otherwise. This magazine was founded to say “Stop” to the purveyors of “modish fads and fallacies,” and it will continue to do so into the future. Maddy Kearns will continue to say “No.” Alexandra DeSanctis will continue to say “No.” Dan McLaughlin will continue to say “No.”
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Told by Alice that “One can’t believe impossible things,” Lewis Carroll’s ludicrous White Queen responded that the key to the trick was “practice.” “When I was your age,” Her Majesty affirmed, “I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” National Review has the opposite habit. We wake up, read reams of the newly impossible, and set out to dismantle it with all we’ve got to give.
Frankly, at this point just “half-an-hour a day” of impossibility would be progress, for it is now the unwavering position of large swathes of the establishment that it is impossible for a layman to know what a woman is; that government expansions costing trillions of dollars are, in fact, “free”; that the murder of unborn children is routine and unremarkable “health care”; that, ad nauseam, the Treasury may print money without consequence; that the meaningful history of the United States is to be found in slavery alone; that our foundational laws are “living” and should be reinterpreted at will; and that biological sex is determined by faith alone.
These are no mere abstractions. Consumers staring at inflation have been told that it is not happening, that it’s not happening much, and then that it started two weeks ago because of Russia. Spectators at sporting events are being informed that the men they see before their eyes are no such thing. Economists worried about the debt are being pointed only to magic beans. Line by line, departure by departure, reality has been rendered optional and its partisans rendered outré. Once, “What color is the sky in your world?” was a rhetorical question. Now, it may invite a ridiculous answer that, given the right ideological incentives, will become progressive orthodoxy within the month.
The advocates of this lunacy have a battery of reinforcements. They have groups that denounce, and acolytes who pronounce, and activists who take studied offense. And then there are the experts — well, the “experts” — who enjoy the imprimatur that conveys trustworthiness, but the flexibility that derives from chasing fashion. Together, this cadre pours scorn on the elucidators, and convenes to obscure, to bully, and to confuse. It creates nuance where none can exist. It substitutes clear, satisfactory words (“mother”) for daft political neologisms (“birthing person”). It plays judge, jury, and executioner — and revolutionary and historian, too. Nothing is constant, nowhere is off limits, nobody is immune from being thrown violently under the bus. Former favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been dead for less than a year before the ACLU rewrote her most famous quote to mean the polar opposite of its intent.
The result is stupidity, incoherence, confusion, and caprice. This week’s rule book holds that Americans cannot possibly know what a woman is (that being the job of a biologist, or a gender-studies major, or neither) but that, despite this inability, women in general must be celebrated whenever one is elected or appointed to high office — unless, of course, that woman subsequently says she’s a man, in which case the historical record must be immediately changed to reflect that she was born a man. Such paradoxes are enough to drive a man — sorry, a person — to drink. We are at present expected to believe that a man who says that he’s a woman is, in an entirely real and irrefutable sense, a woman, but that a woman who says she’s a woman is making an unjustified assumption; to believe that we must replace the term “mother” with “birthing people” unless that mother happens to belong to a demographic group that dislikes this game, in which case they’re a “mother” still; and to believe that all the sex-equality laws in America remain imperative — including the unratified Equal Rights Amendment — unless a man comes along and claims their protections for himself. How peculiar it is that in the space of ten short years, the “War on Women” went from a baseless electoral slogan to an accurate description of the progressive movement’s role in society.
By happy contrast, National Review’s role remains as it ever was: to reject “radical social experimentation,” to protect America’s “tradition of fixed postulates,” and to remind our fellows citizens that “truth is neither arrived at nor illuminated by monitoring election results, binding though these are for other purposes.”
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