Reality is Not an Option
Recently, my local morning news channel aired a story about a body discovered in a city park. Sadly, that’s not especially unusual. I was still a little bleary from having just gotten out of bed, so I don’t recall many details. I think they said the body was aged thirty or so, but I remember very clearly that they said it was the body of a man. I remember this because, being of a cynical turn of mind whenever I am conscious at all, I asked my wife -- “How do they know it was a man?” My wife ignored me, of course, either because she was asleep or because she knows a rhetorical question when she hears one. So, I put it to you: In a world in which gender is a characteristic entirely at the whim of the individual – how does one determine the gender of a corpse?
Does a corpse have the gender it thought it did when it was alive, or does it cease to have a gender when it ceases to have the power to choose one for itself? To echo the old philosophical wheeze about the anonymous tree falling in the anonymous forest, if a person dies in a park and no one is there to recognize and celebrate (its) gender identity – does it even have one?
Progressives have choked the Western world nearly to death with just this sort ontological goo. Let us suppose we see a statistic that claims that women make less money than men for the same work. Since the state of being male or female is purely at the discretion of the individual, then it would appear to the logical mind that discrimination by gender must also be, in a way, at the pleasure of the victim. After all, if you’re a woman you are entirely a woman by choice – your mere physiology having nothing to do with it. To avoid discrimination, why can’t one just self-identify as a man during working hours, and be a woman, or whatever fantastic gender one prefers, in one’s spare time?
If the left has its way, and all the white people in America are made to pay reparations for the chattel slavery of bygone days, will Rachael Dolezal, who pretends to be black, pay her share – or will she reap the benefits of her self-defined identity? Can one “feel like” a black person for tax purposes alone? Can one self-identify as handicapped for the convenient parking spaces? It is fortunate that one’s self-identification as either competent or incompetent has not yet achieved the much-coveted protected status. I dread the day when I will be treated by a physician who simply “feels like” a doctor.
All sarcasm aside, I have little doubt that the current fad of ignoring brute realities in the name of fairness and “social justice” is nearing the end of its road. Realities are strong creatures with a way of reasserting themselves -- often rather brutally.
The beginning of our present course certainly looked innocent enough. It began with a naïve, hopeful, desperate assumption that all of us are absolutely equal. Or, to reach only a little further back, it began with a tragedy. It began when the advancing Allied armies exposed the Nazi death camps at the end World War II, and everyone across the West rightfully recoiled in horror. People concluded that we had better not let a thing like that happen again -- which was a laudable sentiment. Liberals (and yes, I do mean liberals -- not today’s degenerate progressives) decided that, to avert the possibility of future genocide, we had to throw out any evidence that any person might have a genetic edge over any other. This was no minor adjustment. Before the war, almost everyone understood that different peoples, races, and cultures were just that -- different. They understood that genders were binary -- and different. People were allowed to see what they actually saw. The people of the rest of the world, from South America to Africa, from the Middle East to the Far East -- still understand perfectly well that all people are neither the same nor compatible with one another. It is only we in the West who have had this counterintuitive and utterly false idea pounded into our heads.
No one should think our ancestors all so narrow-minded that they didn’t realize individuals from other groups might break the mold from time to time. England had a prime minister of Jewish descent in the 19th century. Even in the antebellum South there were a few black slaveholders among the millions of black slaves. There were successful women long before the women’s liberation movement came along. The belief, at its strongest in America, that the individual should be judged on his or her own merits is the rational remedy for blind group hatred. Making everybody equal every which way by mere wishful thinking isn’t.
As soon as people started to believe that everybody isn’t merely equal before the law, but that all groups of people must be equal every which way, we made enemies with an ocean of inconvenient facts. Instead of the slow, methodical practice of ferreting reality from nature (we used to call this science) people began to tie their beliefs to what they thought would be nice. It would, of course, be nice if homosexual men didn’t engage in pedophilia at an alarming rate compared to heterosexual men -- but they do. It would also be quite nice if blacks had, on average, about the same IQ scores as whites or Asians -- but they don’t. It would certainly warm our hearts if Islam really were the religion of peace -- but fifteen hundred years of history and the uncounted dead of virtually every culture that has ever come in contact with Islam say otherwise.
When people detach themselves from hard, unpleasant realities they get very good at creating and maintaining flexible narratives. When facts are banished, reality just is what you want believe. Or what you’ve been told to believe. Today’s white male who doesn’t want to be harassed for “whiteness” or “toxic masculinity” can become some miserable facsimile of a female because it is now a widespread taboo to say he can’t.
The bitter irony produced by all this this fanciful cognitive gibberish is that, in a world in which people are in a constant state of competition for official pity, all that was good at the beginning of the liberal project has been wrecked or overturned. What is “equality before the law” when some people are entitled to extra protections under hate crime laws? What is “basic human decency” when, to be a victim, one must identify a group of people as oppressors and revile them publicly as a class?
Slavery, the Holocaust, and all the other tragedies of the human past were never a just reason to plunge ourselves into this suicidal faux-egalitarian nightmare. There isn’t the slightest evidence that illiterate third-worlders or a tattoo-defaced generation of the sexually confused are inclined to be either tolerant or productive citizens. There is plenty of evidence that many of these disorderly creatures have good old-fashioned tribal axes to grind. If we are really going to save the West, we need not resort to simple-minded bigotry -- but we had better relearn the principle of simple realism.