All posts filed under: Culture Wars

Standing Up to the Gender Ideologues: a Quillette Editorial

On June 23rd, Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts put out a carefully worded five-paragraph media statement regarding German-born textile artist Jess de Wahls. “We have apologised to Jess de Wahls for the way we have treated her and do so again publicly now,” read the RA communiqué. “We had no right to judge her views … This betrayed our most important core value—the protection of free speech.” The controverted speech in question was contained in a 2019 blog post, in which de Wahls wrote that “a woman is an adult human female (not an identity or feeling),” and that trans women are “biological males [who] choose to live as a woman, or believe they actually are women.” These are statements that almost every person knows to be true, but which have become unfashionable to say out loud in highly progressive subcultures. And so, when a handful of people raised a fuss about de Wahls’ work being sold in the RA gift shop, Academy officials not only purged de Wahl from their inventory earlier this month, …

The Limitations of Black Conservative Thought

I. Can we choose to be optimistic or pessimistic about our future prospects? Can we choose our appetite for risk or our attitude toward conformity? Can we choose to bolster our self-esteem if we know that low self-esteem is causing us grief? Few of us believe we are entirely free to conduct a sober, sophisticated cost-benefit analysis every time we face an important decision in life, whether it’s how much to study for a final exam, when to end a long-term relationship, or if we should order one last drink before the bar closes. Similarly, few of us believe we live in an entirely deterministic world in which we are free only to rationalize our behavior after the fact. So, how free are we? Science provides us with plenty of empirical evidence to suggest we are not as free as our most exuberant defenders of human freedom assume, but it will likely be a few more decades, if not longer, before neuroscientists, endocrinologists, evolutionary biologists, sociologists, psychologists, and scientists of as-yet-unnamed disciplines identify precisely where …

The ‘Gender Supremacist’ Threat to the Progressive Alliance: Part One of a Three-Part Series

There have always been conflicts within the LGBT+ community. But the recent capture of Western political and cultural institutions by a faction of radicalized transgender activists presents a more existential type of crisis. The backlash against this clique’s overreach, which we are already beginning to observe, won’t be felt merely by the LGBT+ movement in whose name these activists present their demands, but by progressive causes more generally. Gender supremacists (as I call them) seek to entirely replace sex with gender as a legal category, an unpopular project that is squandering decades of hard-won LGBT+ social capital; contradicts the arguments that led to our most important policy victories; alienates our allies (especially in the women’s movement); and redefines gays and lesbians in a way that effectively erases us out of existence. To be clear: Trans people should have the same rights as everyone else to live openly, freely, and safely. Gender identity and expression deserve legal protection under human-rights and anti-hate-crime laws. I am not arguing that the LGBT+ community’s component groups and their progressive …

A Conversation with Daniel Elder, the Choral Music Composer Who Was Cancelled for Opposing Arson

On May 30th, 2020, amid an anti-police-brutality protest in Nashville, TN, several white protesters allegedly attempted to burn down the city’s Metro Courthouse. In response, choral music composer Daniel Elder, who lives nearby, wrote an Instagram post that read, “Enjoy burning it all down, you well-intentioned, blind people. I’m done.” As Robby Soave recently reported in Reason, this single post resulted in Elder being mobbed on social media, and effectively cancelled as a composer. In particular, his publisher, GIA Publications, publicly denounced Elder, and demanded that he communicate an apology (of GIA’s own composition) that read, in part: Over the weekend I made a post on my social media accounts that was insensitive and wrongly-worded. I deeply apologize for the anger, offense, and harm that this post caused. While this offense was not intended, it is what was created. For this I am truly sorry. There is no justification that I can offer for my post. So, rather than try to offer an excuse for what was done, I offer a promise for what I …

When Sons Become Daughters: It’s Time to Admit That Reflexive ‘Affirmation’ Has Been a Mistake

What follows is the seventh and final instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series. “What are your preferred pronouns?” I ask Rene Jax, somewhat in jest. The answer: “Your Imperial Majesty. Look, you call me what you want. I don’t care. My friends say I’m half this and half that.” Rene (a real name, unlike the pseudonyms I’ve generally been using to describe others) is a 60-year-old male-to-female post-operative transsexual who looks both like a woman (hair, clothing, style of glasses) and a man (hands, Adam’s apple, jawline). My question felt farcical to both of us because Rene has written openly about the pathway that led to transition—and then to regret. …

The Conservative Case for Cannabis Legalization

Last November, more than 75 percent of voters in Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana. By February, neighboring Alabama’s Senate had passed its own legalization bill for the third year in a row. Of Alabama’s four neighboring states, only Tennessee still treats all marijuana possession as a crime. If this is where weed stands in the deep south, its legalization recreationally in 18 states (as of this writing) should not be surprising. More than 128 million Americans now live in these states, including New Mexico, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Virginia, and nearly 224 million live in states that have legalized medical marijuana use. According to an April 2021 Pew poll, more than 90 percent of Americans (and more than 80 percent of self-described political conservatives) now support legalization in some form, with 60 percent in favor of recreational legalization. Given this reality, conservative leaders should reconsider their traditionally hostile approach to marijuana and embrace the end of state cannabis prohibition as both good policy and an embodiment of core conservative principles. As the conservative economist and …

Why Is the Society for American Archaeology Promoting Indigenous Creationism?

In April, one of us—Elizabeth Weiss—gave a talk, titled Has Creationism Crept Back into Archaeology?, at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). The 87-year-old SAA identifies itself as “an international organization dedicated to research about the interpretation and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas.” The SAA board of directors includes professors, curators, and government archaeologists, all of whom presumably appreciate the importance of studying artifacts and human remains as a means to understanding the history of our species. The subject of the April 15th talk, co-authored with James W. Springer (who also co-authored this essay), was the threat of religious literalism being used as a means to insist on the repatriation of human remains (mainly skeletons) and artifacts to presumed descendent populations—i.e., present-day Indigenous communities whose members live near the location where such remains are discovered. However, our use of the term “repatriation” more broadly encompasses the new laws, ideological claims, and policies that serve to give Indigenous claimants control over remains and artifacts, as well as over …

Silicon Valley’s ‘Mission Protocol’ Revolution Is Beginning to Attain Critical Mass

In December 2004, during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, I spent a night in one of the many tents that had been pitched in Kiev’s central square. There were five of us inside, and it smelled like cigarettes, black tea, and sweat. Outside, it was snowing. It seemed that everyone—protesters and riot police—had a megaphone. The voices bounced off the square’s gray facades, blending with snippets of shouting, laughter, dogs barking, a couple in a nearby tent having sex. The 25-year-old travel agent who owned the tent I was staying in had taken the bus from the city of Vinnytsia, a few hours to the southwest, with some friends. The group included a medical student and a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy. “We wanted to see history happen,” the tent owner told me. The pregnant woman interjected: “But we didn’t come until we knew it was safe—until other people would be here.” In the former Soviet Union before social media, there was a calculus to demonstrating. If you wanted to demonstrate against the regime, and …

Are Activists Protecting Asians from Hate—or Protecting Their Narrative of White Supremacy from Criticism?

Asia Society, the global NGO dedicated to “forging closer ties between Asia and the West through arts, education, policy and business,” recently shared a video in which activist Manjusha P. Kulkarni spoke about anti-Asian attacks in the United States. Kulkarni, whose own group self-describes as a “national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” emphasised that anti-black bigotry was causing people to falsely attribute these anti-Asian attacks to African American perpetrators: And I will tell you that while we don’t collect ethnic specific data on perpetrators … we know that it is a very small minority that are African-American. And in fact, when we look at these broader types of discrimination, the ones that involve civil-rights violations, of course, we know that those are institutional actors, heads of businesses, et cetera, and that these are the folks who often, because of positions of power that they are in, are actually white. .@StopAAPIHate co-founder @KulkarniManju discusses the “white adjacency” of Asians and Asian Americans, anti-Blackness, and the misleading trope of the Black perpetrator. Watch the …

When Sons Become Daughters, Part VI: Asexuality, Intelligence, and the Trans Co-Option of Intersex Discourse

What follows is the sixth instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a seven-part Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series. Whether they exhibit autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, many trans-identified boys seem to be fixated on a hypothetical future self: Once brought to life, it is believed, this woman’s mere presence will resolve whatever existential crisis the young man is going through. In many cases, the boy will spend a lot of his time thinking about the differences between his status quo and his imagined (feminine) ideal. This “hyper-ruminative” behaviour is something many parents I interviewed discussed with me. From Milwaukee, Liz emails me a number of papers she’s found over the years …