Imposing the new 'realism'
Ordinary Americans are for the most part commonsense realists. For most Americans, especially those who have not had the privilege of being steeped in sophisticated Ivy League thinking, it is still self-evident that a boy in a tutu and a tiara is a boy even if he claims he is a female. But according to our ruling elite in and out of government, what the boy says must now determine which bathroom and shower room he has access to.
I suppose you already know that all this does not stop with boys who claim to be female. For example, in 2016, New York City released a list of 31 genders approved by the city's Commission on Human Rights. The 31 genders listed include "drag king," "drag queen," "butch," "femme queen," "gender fluid," "gender blender," "gender gifted," "gender bender," and "femme person of transgender experience." Businesses can now be fined as much as $250,000 for refusing to address someone by his preferred pronoun. In addition, New Yorkers may use the bathroom or locker room of their choice, based on their "gender identity," without having to show any kind of documentation or proof.
The ruling class has declared war on common sense.
Our ruling elite is now trying to replace commonsense realism with what can only be called "linguistic realism" – if I say I am female or "gender gifted," then that is what I am. To paraphrase one of America's most revered thought leaders, "it all depends on what the meaning of the word 'boy' is."
Linguistic realism takes us far beyond the war on common sense that is political correctness. According to the dictates of political correctness, the commonsense claim that importing huge numbers of Muslims from the Middle East amounts to importing trouble and terrorism is disallowed. Anyone who makes that commonsense claim is denounced as a racist or an Islamophobe. But at least political correctness still allows us to say a Muslim is a Muslim.
According to linguistic realism, you can't say the boy is a boy. And according political correctness, you can't say that importing large numbers of Muslims is unsafe. There is a whole lot of "you can't say that" going on in the war on common sense.
The split between the commonsense realism of regular Americans and the linguistic realism and political correctness championed by the sophisticated members of the elite goes a long way toward explaining the current divide between regular Americans and America's elite. America has always had an elite, but America has not always had this divide. Once upon a time, during the American Founding and for quite some time thereafter, elite Americans and ordinary Americans alike were commonsense realists. The Founders were skillful masters of the formal philosophic logic of commonsense realism, and for generations, the education of elite Americans was grounded in commonsense realism. (For a more complete discussion of this fascinating story, I refer the reader to my book Common Sense Nation.)
I often hear it said that common sense has become uncommon. That did not just, somehow, happen. There is a relentless and escalating campaign against common sense in America, and it is coming from the political left.
Of course, people cannot abandon common sense in the conduct of their daily lives without putting their survival at risk. No matter how vehemently sophisticated people reject common sense, they can be counted on not to let their infant children play with sharp knives. Nor are they going to try to outrun the police in an ancient Toyota. They aren't going to jump into the Grand Canyon with an umbrella to find out whether doing so would get them safely to the bottom. And so on.
Consequently, the abandonment of commonsense realism is necessarily restricted to areas of life in which nonsense can run unchecked by contact with reality – areas such as movies; fiction; philosophy; and, too often for too long, political discourse.
Robert Curry is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books. Common Sense Nation was selected as a finalist for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's prestigious annual book award for 2016. You can preview the book at here.