Just as there are degrees of hot and cold, so there are degrees of political leftism, some very mild, some stronger, and some way too strong.
The mildest degree is what used to be called liberalism. I don’t mean the liberalism of today, which is pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, pro-transgender, etc. No, I mean the liberalism of the old days, the kind of liberalism characterized by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson. New Deal liberalism it may be called.
I myself am a liberal of that old kind. It’s a center-left kind of liberalism that believes the federal government should play an important role in helping American society make progress by incremental steps that do no violence to American traditions. It’s a liberalism that is relatively conservative. A splendid example was Harry Truman, a political liberal who was a temperamental conservative: rather an ordinary American who just happened to be President of the United States at a critical moment in modern history.
Catholics also used to be good examples of this. On the one hand, they belonged to a profoundly conservative religion; on the other, they supported a liberal political party, the Democrats.
Today, though I still think of myself as a liberal of this old-fashioned kind, I deplore almost everything that now passes under the name of liberalism. I don’t just deplore it. I hate it.
But I feel degrees of hate. I don’t hate all elements of the new progressivism equally.
My mildest degree of hatred (so mild it should be called dislike, not hatred) is aimed at the bicycle tyrants, the people who want to make the world safe for bicycles (as President Wilson wanted to make it safe for democracy). In progressive cities with very broad streets (e.g., Boulder, Colorado), ample bike lanes can be provided with little or no inconvenience to car drivers. But in progressive cities with very narrow streets (e.g., Cambridge, Massachusetts), a zero-sum game is being played between bicyclists and car drivers: the more convenient you make it for one, the more inconvenient you make it for the other.
Now I happen to live in Newport R.I., an old city (settled in 1639) with lots and lots of narrow streets. A few decades ago the state decided that Newport should have at least one four-lane highway; and so one was built, at the unfortunate cost of demolishing much of the most ancient part of the city. In warm weather, when tens of thousands of tourists come to town, the streets of Newport are of course congested, including (sad to say) our four-lane highway.
Well, the bike tyrants have recently come up with a new idea. They would like to reduce these four lanes to two, giving the other two lanes over to the exclusive use of bicyclists. Needless to say, this will lead to a great increase in our already bad traffic congestion. Not surprisingly, many of Newport’s ordinary people (people rather like Harry Truman) are up in arms about this.
Now I myself am somewhat (I stress “somewhat”) sympathetic to the concerns of the climate-change fanatics, and I was a great bike rider when I was a kid. But I am an old man now, and I’m not willing to trade in my car for a bicycle, no matter how much my riding a bike might improve my precarious health or contribute to lowering the temperature of the Earth.
But local leftists are not active on bike paths only. They are also active in our public schools. Recently our middle school sponsored a “Transgender Appreciation Day.” If the bike tyrants annoy me, those who promote transgenderism enrage me, in truth, drive me nearly mad.
Now my rage is not directed at people who are so much in the grip of transgender lunacy as to switch genders at an adult age. I feel sorry for such people, but I don’t hate them. Why should I?
But I do feel something like hate for leftist ideologues who promote transgenderism for kids, the ideologues who promote what they call “gender-affirming health care” – a 1984-ish euphemism which, among other horrible things, encourages mentally deluded, barely pubescent girls to undergo breast-removal surgery. It encourages them to be proud of their scars, just as German university students used to be proud of the scars they obtained from duels.
Even when these ideologues are not actively busy promoting gender-transforming surgery and hormone treatment, they are busy encouraging something just a little bit less Satanic. They are telling kids – all kids – that they owe it to themselves to ask themselves the important question, “Am I a boy or a girl?”, while assuring these kids that the answer to this question has little or nothing to do with the reproductive equipment they may find between their legs.
I was a kid, once upon a time. I remember that in those long-ago days, I used to spend more than a few anxious hours worrying about needless things. Those hours of needless anxiety are a price almost all kids have to pay for their necessary journey through adolescence. How cruel one has to be to inflict one more needless worry – and such a worry! – on kids. “Billy, you should think about the possibility that you may be a girl. And Mary Sue, could it be that you are really a boy?”
These ideologues are nothing less than monsters. And the very worst monster of this kind is the parent (usually a mother) who encourages her little boy/girl to believe that he/she is a girl/boy. This allows the mother to say to herself, “Oh, how glorious! To be the mother of a trans child! I am super-cool, the envy of all my friends.”
And she adds: “I am even more cool than my old college roommate who for years boasted of being the proud mother of a gay child. Eat your heart out with jealousy, old friend. Now it is ME at the top of Queer Hill.”
*Image: Queen of Hearts (Lili) by Gerda Wegener, 1928 [private collection]. ‘Lili” was Lili Elbe, the former Einar Wegener, whom Gerda Gottlieb had married before Einar became Lili. The two were the subject of the 2015 film, The Danish Girl.
You may also enjoy:
Robert Royal’s Transgenderism and Perfect Freedom
Brad Miner’s Further Thoughts on Transgenderism