December 6, 2018

Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic


 By Stephen M. Krason

            Recently, the American Association of University Professors’ Committees on Academic Freedom and Women in the Academic Profession issued a statement entitled “The Assault on Gender and Gender Studies.” While criticizing the Hungarian government for putting the clamps on gender studies in their universities, its main aim is to derail the Trump administration’s proposed clarification of Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination to not include gender identity. It could hardly have been more classic of an example of the twisting of scholarship in the interest of promoting the very thing that corrupts true scholarship: ideology. In this case the ideology is sexual libertinism, and most specifically transgenderism and the broader homosexualist agenda of which it’s a part. The statement even has the temerity to proclaim the fantasy—maybe lunacy is a better word—that “a biological basis for gender…has been thoroughly discredited by over fifty years of feminist, trans, queer, and critical race research and by lived experience.” In fact, the viewpoint it expresses is the outcome of the corruption of sound, sensible scholarship for fifty years by ideologues who despite their utter rebellion against reality have captured much of American higher education.

The reality, of course, is that serious scholarship across the board, even that carried out at the level of a junior high school student—for that matter, common sense (which is chronically brushed aside by the ideologically-driven academics of today) and, yes, “lived experience”—understands that men cannot become women or women men. The person who truly embraces reality knows that there are fewer things more obvious than this.

One point after another in the statement exudes falsehood, fantasy, and trying to make their opponents out to be the enemies of truth when, by every rational yardstick, they are its enemies—and the bitterly ironic thing is that if one were even to mention the word “truth” to people like these they would scoff at him. They start by insisting that “gender” should not be “narrowly defined” as immutable and determined at birth, and claim that to say otherwise is “part of a broader attack on civil rights.” Besides never specifying what the broader attack is or providing any evidence that it exists, they never trouble themselves to explain how they can conclude that the official rejection of someone’s claim to be a sex that he or she isn’t violates civil rights. It certainly doesn’t occur to them that such a “narrow” definition might just be part of the nature of things—but, then again, intellectuals have long since embraced the view that man really has no nature and that he is infinitely malleable. “Lived experience” thus seems to mean whatever you want to make something into, however one wants to remake reality.

The statement claims that scholars in biology, anthropology, history, and psychology “have repeatedly shown that definitions of sex and sexuality have varied over time and across cultures and political regimes.” It, of course, provides no evidence of this and could not. Who could think of a time when a culture believed that men and women were interchangeable? Maybe they have in mind “scholars” such as Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey whose claims about sex practices and human sexuality upon closer examination have been outright discredited. In fact, some of the things that Kinsey says in his books are now so embarrassing that the institute that bears his name at Indiana University and now holds the copyrights routinely won’t let writers quote from them. Even Mead and Kinsey, however, didn’t go so far as to claim that the sexes were interchangeable. Of course, it’s outrageous to say that biology could conclude that men are anything but men and women anything but women.

The statement excoriates the Trump Title IX initiative as “state-enforced preservation of traditional gender roles,” which is “authoritarian” and aiming “to protect patriarchal family structures.” Then truth is that it signifies nothing more than public policy recognizing reality. It’s likely that the AAUP wouldn’t call out more truly oppressive governmental initiatives that conform to its ideological agenda as authoritarian. When was the last time that the AAUP criticized statism or overcentralized governmental authority? Their grasping onto the “patriarchy” claim—never forget to bring that in—underscores how they are ready to substitute ideologically-charged rhetoric for the genuine scholarship they claim they want to uphold. It goes without saying that they provide no evidence for their patriarchy claim, or even define what the term means—much less provide any analysis of why the nuclear family with the traditional roles, rightly understood, of husband-father and wife-mother are problematical or defective. They go on to rebuke attempts by government to disfavor “nonnormative households,” like the “same-sex” ones “that deviate from established nuclear family norms.” They claim that on such a thing the policymakers’ “motives are ideological” pure and simple. The latter are “attempting to override the insights of serious scholars” and are acting “without factual support” and “for purely political ends.” Of course, it’s the AAUP and these “serious scholars” who are ideological and pursuing political ends.

It’s also interesting that after its full-throated condemnation of government authoritarianism in advancing a public policy that upholds the reality about males and females, the statement says that the same Title IX should be an “instrument for ending cultures of discrimination based on sex.” There is no hesitancy about using the full force of government for this purpose, and the context makes it clear that the sex discrimination to be eliminated includes protecting homosexuality and transgenderism. The fact that it speaks about this in the context of encouraging universities and colleges to put gender studies and related programs, such as “queer and trans studies,” in place indicates that sexual libertinism is an important part of what is aimed for. These kinds of programs give their ready imprimatur to that.

Further, the statement insists that these programs are particularly essential “for research into how differences are used to legitimize structures of power.” This seems to be another way of saying that they are needed to expose the supposed white male heterosexual power structure throughout society. With the left, it always seems to come down to power. True scholarship goes where the evidence leads, but this is yet one more position that the statement—for all their crabbing about how the decision-makers opposing gender studies have no scholarly credentials—embraces without providing any evidence to back it up.

For its supposed concern with scholarship, one wonders what the AAUP’s reaction is to scholarship that shows—clearly, with hard evidence—the value of the family as traditionally understood or casts any doubt on the  claims of the homosexualists (i.e., the so-called “LGBTQ” agenda). They likely would have no use for such sound, carefully undertaken scholarship because its conclusions contradict their ideological agenda—as one would expect it would, since it confirms the wisdom of the ages and, yes, the human nature they want to flaunt. Has the AAUP defended the likes of Paul McHugh, Mark Regnerus, or Paul Sullins, who have faced ugly attacks for their research showing the harms of transgenderism and the damage to children of same-sex parenting? For that matter, in their zeal to defend alternative family forms has the AAUP taken note of the consistent research across disciplines that has shown that children are more likely to thrive and grow up to be well-adjusted, responsible adults when they come from intact nuclear families (that is, the families that the AAUP identifies with the dreaded patriarchy)? Do they even take note of the diseases that evidence unmistakably shows active male homosexuals and lesbians are much more likely to contract? It becomes almost hilarious for the statement to say that the opponents of gender ideology—and, by implication, all that is related to it—are seeking to “impose their will in the name of a ‘science’ that is without factual support.”

Just as the statement was ready to invoke the evil of patriarchy, it also tossed out the left’s other ubiquitous snarl word, misogyny. As is typical with the left’s lexicon, such damning, indicting words are never defined. They are rhetorical tools which aim only at casting aspersion on people who don’t follow its agenda down the line. The correct definition of misogyny is a pathological hatred of women, something approaching a psychological condition. The fact that the AAUP is so ready to so loosely and inaccurately use it in a statement like this further undermines its claim to be defending true scholarship. A serious scholar is attentive to the terminology he uses, especially a term with such an obvious meaning as this.

The statement also alleges that attempts to enshrine into public policy the reality of people being one sex or another from birth will cause “trans, intersex, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people” to “disproportionately suffer.” Apart from the fact that these categories are all concoctions of the homosexualist movement and its allies—they are not real—they ignore the fact that the actual suffering occurs because the psychological and personality problems that lead people to think they are in them are never addressed. Too often, these people are used by activists to further their agendas.

A final point in the statement betrays clearly how it hides behind scholarship to promote ideology. It compares the supposed threat to academic freedom posed by the legal recognition of what men and women are by nature to “attacks on climate change.” In other words, any criticism or evidence—including sound scholarship—brought forth against the left’s views on climate change is to be disallowed as an attack on academic freedom. The agenda of the left is sacrosanct and it’s okay to suppress others’ liberties to protect it.

In a statement two years ago the AAUP commendably criticized the threats to academic freedom and campus free speech by false and irresponsible accusations of sexual harassment on campuses and the failure to provide due process to the accused—even while it was careful to uphold the supposed value of gender studies. Unfortunately, in this latest statement the lure of ideology was just too great for it to uphold truth much at all—which is the very thing that true scholarship is supposed to aim for.

Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly). He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and Associate Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and a lawyer. Among his books are: Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism; The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; Catholicism and American Political Ideologies, and a Catholic political novel, American Cincinnatus. A slightly different version of this article appeared in Crisismagazine.com. The views expressed here are his own. This column may be reproduced so long as the publication it originally appeared in (Crisismagazine.com) is noted.






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