Common sense is in a race against the clock. That is to say, the more we’re able to litigate certain question in the public square, the more radical leftist notions of sex, race, and more will fade back to the fringe.
As I was chatting this week with colleagues on the Edmund Burke Foundation’s NatConSquad podcast, we entered a discussion on the swell of apolitical, grassroots opposition to critical race theory. The left wants to cast this campaign as an astroturf outgrowth of the vast right-wing conspiracy, but the viral videos and news reports speak for themselves. Even in our divided and secular culture, racism framed as anti-racism won’t pass the smell test with a wide swath of Americans.
That’s also true of biology. The consequences of regulations that insist sex is malleable have slowly provoked a similarly apolitical grassroots opposition, as in the case of Connecticut’s female track athletes who begrudgingly joined the battle to save their sport. When the Olympics air later this summer, long a unifying national event, sex will be front and center. We learned recently that Laurel Hubbard, a male weightlifter from New Zealand, will compete against women in Tokyo.
The left, of course, weaponizes a powerful progressive-or-bigot binary to silence opposition, decrying all dissent from radical bigotry. In a country where much blood has been shed to overcome bigotry, it’s enormously and rightfully stigmatized. Thus the social cost of vocalizing opposition to CRT or trans ideology intimidates a lot of people into silence, allowing elites to bulldoze culture.
But the more these issues touch communities, where enough goodwill exists to incentivize discussion, the more the left will fail in the court of public opinion. That’s at least what we can hope.
The question is whether we’ll be able to litigate these ideas in the modern courts of public opinion before they close their gates to anti-leftist voices. That’s how this becomes a race against the clock. Tech monopolies allow social media platforms to escape market opposition to their backwards policies, so their decisions to deplatform heterodox thought will likely continue unabated.
So long as our First Amendment protections remain robust, face-to-face conversation will always allow true debate to unfold, even if the majority of such debates are currently held on tech platforms. But, again, tech is normalizing narrow cultural boundaries of free expression and expression has increasingly moved to their platforms. Academia also continues to use this binary formulation to shape a chunk of parents and workers into radical cultural leftists as well, especially those who enter the corridors of power from liberal arts schools and the Ivy League.
As parents and students fight the glaring racism and sexism of CRT and trans ideology, they’re not only fighting those policies, they’re fighting the ruling class’s normalization of narrow speech boundaries. Those boundaries are, perhaps, the greatest, most immediate obstacle to cultural health right now.
The speed of the fight matters because it’s racing against the steady narrowing of acceptable speech by elite cultural monopolists, who wish to cleanse the public square of wrong-think through academia, Hollywood, economic force, and social intimidation. If they succeed totally, the work of restoring healthy norms of free expression will be much more difficult.