Picture, if you can, what has gone through my head over the last week. I am a Yale graduate. More specifically, I am a graduate “of color” who survived the allegedly toxic racism of New Haven in the 1980s and 1990s, back in the days when there was still apartheid in South Africa and activists didn’t generally talk about Halloween costumes.
I consider myself the inheritor of three parental figures: my Filipino father, my Puerto Rican mother (with slave roots in a sugar cane valley), and my mother’s white lesbian partner. So I can swing Asian, Latino, black, or white queer, depending on the occasion.
I spent my basic combat training in Missouri, about as far from the University of Missouri as Mizzou is from Ferguson. I was a private “of color” who survived the military-industrial complex, though we were more worried about being sent to fight jihadists in Central Asia than we were about hearing an “alleged” slur from a pick-up truck on our way to blocking a parade. I can talk your ear off about health-care issues for reservists, given that I had a head injury and received a medical discharge. But that’s for another article.
Nowadays I teach at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. I am a “professor of color,” the sort of individual that minority protesters at both Yale and Mizzou seem to be demanding more of, to diversify the faculty. Currently, not counting people in early retirement, I am one of only two Latino professors of English on full-time staff at Northridge, the only Latino male who teaches English full-time, and the only Latino professor with a degree in classics (partly because there are only two professors of classics at Northridge and one is en route to retirement).
I Check All the Diversity Boxes
But go figure. I work at a “Hispanic-serving institution” of 40,000 students and thousands of instructors, where I have, if I may boast a little, credentials that equal or surpass the credentials of any white faculty member on campus. Not based on identity politics, mind you, based on passing comprehensive exams in Greek and Latin, as well as gaining fluency in multiple foreign languages. I am also exceedingly fast at taking apart an M-16, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. Just don’t ask me to fire at anything really far away, because I’ll miss. I’m a lousy shot.
Still, according to a well-placed source in the administration, I am the only faculty member who’s been under investigation for DHR (discrimination, harassment, or retaliation) this past year, and as of October 16, 2015, I am the only faculty member in recent memory to be facing “disciplinary sanction.”
I was found guilty of a brand new crime that appears nowhere in the pertinent executive order (CSU EO 1074)—“retaliatory acts”—after an investigation that lasted 378 days. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 19, the three options for disciplinary action consist of suspension without pay, demotion, or dismissal. That’s a whole lot of suck, like choosing between arsenic, cyanide, or strychnine.
Yes, dismissal. I may be a rare case—it is fully within the realm of possibility—of a professor being stripped of tenure and fired, like John McAdams of Marquette University, due to allegations of anti-gay bias. By the way, I’m a bisexual man married to a woman, the mother of my two children.
Conservativeness Negates All Underprivileged Points
With me there’s always a catch, a rub, a wild card factor. Although I embody everything social justice warriors claim to fight for, I also inherited from my left-wing lesbian mother a dogged refusal to dissemble. I am what I am, and I don’t like closets, masks, or phony avatars. I’m conservative through and through. I can’t pretend to be anything else. The world doesn’t know what to do with that.
You’ve probably seen the image of the screaming black woman, a Yale student, beefing with the “master” of Silliman College. You’ve probably seen the image of the screaming white woman, a professor, beefing with a hapless Asian student trying to take pictures of a public event. Maybe you’ve also heard from Breitbart or The Daily Caller about my little kerfuffle involving the Ronald Reagan Library, a KKK reference, a bloodthirsty Title IX coordinator, and a student who nabbed me on charges of “retaliation” because I didn’t nominate her for an award she was ineligible for anyway. If you don’t know anything about my situation, read “Taxpayer-Funded Diversity Bureaucrats Hound Professor, Compare Reagan Library to KKK Camp” or check out this petition. The facts of my case will keep you pretty busy!
The problem is that if the human mind works as I suspect it does, then we process politics through identification. We see ourselves in one of the players of political drama. I am stuck here because I see myself in everyone: the angry Yale minority student, the staggered professor, the angry professor, the bullied Asian, the wounded gays, and the henpecked target of social-justice bullying. My final diagnosis: this is a horrible mess.
Exporting LGBT Politics of Destruction
Race is a mess, but nothing like gender, so let’s focus on sex. Gender politics couldn’t be weirder right now. The LGBT and feminist movements sprang from a similar source, even if there is considerable tension between them and even if there exist countless splinter factions within each. Much of what we see in these movements today ceased being funny a few years ago and began to terrify anybody who was observant. But there was a kernel of justifiable cause in the 1960s.
The same could be said, of course, of communism vis-à-vis earlier generations. The latter movement ended in disaster and provides a cautionary tale for the current crop of gender-fixated social-justice warriors. In “Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family ‘Equality,’” I included these points:
The scope, depth, and purism of sexual movements may ultimately surpass the overreach and eventual implosion of the global movements for class equality. [LGBT activists] are creatures of overreach. Yet their modus operandi has ended up being even more invasive than Marxism, because what ligbitists regulate is intimate, pertaining to the pleasurable acts that were previously private.
When I am in France, I have to explain to countless Europeans why this ideology became so awful. America is to the ligbitist movement as the Soviet Union was to Communism. American universities articulated the theoretical framework for this movement in its most abstract form. Then the police state and financial power of the United States have kicked in to impose it nationwide, then globally. We can blame it partly on the Scandinavians, but honestly, how much could Sweden and Denmark have inflicted this on such a massive swath of the world? It’s Americans who unleashed this on the globe.
Many ironies surround the rise of LGBT/feminist ideology, not the least of which is the role of American exceptionalism. One could argue that the United States has been far more obnoxious about imposing its gender radicalism on the world than the Soviet Union was about forcing a vision of classless societies across the globe.
Colonizing All the Languages
The language predominantly spoken in the United States—English—is extraordinarily bereft of gender constructions compared to almost all the other languages in the world. As I learned in compiling the contributions to “Jephthah’s Daughters,” most European languages involve nouns, adjectives, and articles that adapt according to feminine, masculine, or neuter forms. Other languages beyond Europe, such as Arabic and Chinese, do not have words for “parenting” or “marriage” other than compounds of “mother-father” and “husband-wife.” The obsession with forcibly changing language to scrub gender out of everyday speech came from the United States for a very clear reason—it could only be remotely conceivable in a place that spoke English.
As JD contributors Huldah Lochlan, André Jenkins, and Aphie Ng pointed out, Welsh, Spanish, and Chinese have already been subject to imperialist pressure by English-speakers demanding that they gut their whole symbolic order to keep language “safe” for transgender activists.
The bold project of trying to reorganize everything about class inequality is no greater a folly than the bold project of trying to reorganize everything in the world according to sex and gender inequality.
Boldness is at once irresistible and self-destructive to a large segment of the human race. Dreams of transformative power attract a particular type of person the more impossible the dreams are and the more proof there is of how they backfire. Hence the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” in 1973 did not discourage countless radical intellectuals in the West from romanticizing communist revolution. The liberation theology that my mother espoused remained strong until her death in 1990.
The Craziness Is Increasing
Over the last several weeks, so much news has come out about the terrifying paths taken by LGBT/feminist activists that the average American could be forgiven for wondering just how bad all of this can get. Rosie O’Donnell, a lesbian, apparently kicked out her adopted daughter Chelsea, then publicly defamed her. Chelsea’s accounts exposed the harrowing tales of growing up in a lesbian celebrity household, seeming to confirm many of the dire warnings that B.N. Klein and I provided to the Supreme Court in our amicus brief last March.
Teenage boys are mandated under federal sanction to have access to naked female classmates in high school showering facilities.
The surrogacy business, sometimes called babies on demand, is needed to create all those idealized gay families with children. It has yielded countless custody nightmares, human trafficking scandals, and even deaths of hyper-drugged surrogate mothers, yet all the momentum seems to be for expanding surrogacy, particularly in gay-positive New York.
Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting scandal sent shock waves around the nation, then fizzled out so conveniently that as recently as November 6 Whoopi Goldberg could glibly cut off Carly Fiorina on the topic, saying, “You know that’s not true.”
The Pros and Cons of Shamelessness
In the sixth and final section of “Jephthah’s Daughters,” co-editor Rivka Edelman and I compiled essays demonstrating twelve of the most powerful tools of LGBT/feminist radicalism: fraud, lies, scorn, shamelessness, faithlessness, hypocrisy, pedantry, deflections, demagoguery, McCarthyism, inhumanities, and “the siren’s song.” Each of these tools deserves its own book, but for now, I’d like to comment on “shamelessness.”
The absence of any kind of self-critique, humility, or restraint has come across powerfully in the news over the last week, particularly when we look at what is happening on college campuses. Videos by Project Veritas revealed that the diversity officers at Vassar, Oberlin, Yale, Syracuse, and Cornell all agreed to shred or cut up copies of the U.S. Constitution to placate an actress pretending to be a spoiled and distorted undergraduate.
In a marvelous performance, the actress walks into Title IX offices at all these campuses and parrots the list of traumatic effects usually cited by activists demanding “safe spaces.” She tells the Title IX officers that she can’t sleep, she’s having trouble focusing, her vision is blurred, and she can’t do her work. The cause, she claims, is seeing the Constitution distributed on campus, since she says the Constitution is an oppressive document.
The key to this faux student’s magical powers over these seasoned professionals was her shamelessness. What she said was so patently ridiculous that investigators were left speechless, immobilized, and ultimately compliant. Her lack of shame did not discredit, but rather empowered her.
Similarly, Yale, Missouri, and Northridge found that the most shameless players in the ongoing campus diversity tragedy ended up prevailing. The ludicrousness comes not from racial history but from the history of LGBT and feminist activism, which focuses on feeling and desire to the exclusion of material practicality. In all fairness, not race but gender is driving the bus into madness.