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“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
“Same-sex marriage…was the trigger for not only woke capitalism, but the radicalism of today’s left. It was the success that they had in achieving gay marriage that gave them momentum, made them think that nothing would ever arise within American society to stop them, and has led to a kind of acceleration of all these cultural issues. It wasn’t a week after Obergefell was decided that the cake baking episode happened, and then transgenderism became an issue, where all these same groups began accelerating their attacks on the traditional ideas that there are men and women. So I think same-sex marriage was a real accelerant in the decline of marriage from all of the perspectives, but also an accelerant in the collapse of America’s regime.”
— Dr. Scott Yenor, The American Mind podcast, July 19, 2021
The general public may be finally noticing the leftward lurch happening in universities and in K-12, public and private, but the culture has been shifting for decades. It started in the 1960s with a variety of changes in social norms, like the elimination of strict dress codes and curfews for women at the large public university my mother attended. Her first year, in 1962, the female students had a 10 p.m. curfew. The next year, those rules were scrapped. By the time I got to college, we no longer had female-only dorms. The closest to that you could come was an all-female floor. I have yet to embark on college tours for my own daughter, but what I have read suggests that it will be difficult to find such a sex-segregated living situation. Even in the 1990s, some colleges had embraced co-ed dorms to the extent that even the bathrooms were co-ed. A friend who attended one of these institutions told me about the discomfort of that living situation and the efforts she would make to find a single stall bathroom in another building when she really needed privacy.
These changes swept in with the tide of feminist thought. Americans have largely welcomed movements for increased equality, whether based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. We have liked seeing ourselves as part of a society that is fair and inclusive, or at least approaching more fairness and inclusivity. It also seems that we don’t want to be called, or to think of ourselves, as prudes or homophobes. Since the 1960s, the taboos against sexual promiscuity and immodesty have fallen away, so completely that now women complain that they are unfairly treated when airlines won’t let them fly with strapless outfits or with their midriff showing. Fine, we shrug, not wanting to seem “judgy.”
A lot of these cultural shifts seemed beneficial, or at least harmless. In the last few years, however, it has become clear that the LGBTQ+ movement, especially since transgenders have taken the primary place in it, and anti-racism advocates are making a moral claim that can’t succeed without the existence of an intolerant, bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic population. If that population doesn’t exist, they must infer its existence and presume that those awful people are secretly inculcating their hateful beliefs in their children. I don’t think that’s a particularly nice thing to do, so I am not disposed to be accepting of these insults. Thankfully, many American parents feel the same way.
What we really don’t want to be called is racist. When people were only complaining of microaggressions, we didn’t worry too much. Plenty of my friends have taken the attitude that all you have to do to avoid those is to just not be a jerk or say anything “wrong.” They are nice people, so they think everyone else is basically nice, too. But when the dominant culture skips over the step of making evidence-based accusations of racism and just moves right on to inferring racist beliefs and attitudes in our children, apparently that’s when Americans finally balk.
The demands for submission to the leftist narrative are encroaching more swiftly into the personal lives of Americans. It’s been happening gradually for decades, but I have noticed the acceleration since 2015. I could cite specific news stories, such as Christians being deemed unfit to hold certain government positions, but I noticed the shift in the public debate and in the tone of communications from our public school administrators and teachers. They were emboldened to express political opinions while treating them as simply conventional wisdom. The confidence of those on the left was not damaged when Donald Trump won the presidential election. To them, it simply demonstrated the righteousness of their cause that so many Americans would vote for a man that they deemed vile and racist. I think it was another accelerant in the leftist effort to conquer our culture. The coronavirus pandemic, the death of George Floyd, and the election of Joe Biden have all provided more momentum for progressives. They are, by definition, on the move. And they are moving pretty fast now.Published in