In response to Iowa’s recent legislation banning males from participating on female sports teams, a March 3 article at CNN accused Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of using “transphobic language to justify the need for the ban.” After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order rightly labeling the genital mutilation of minors as “child abuse” and urging such abuse to be reported, a Feb. 26 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times described the move as a “toxic cocktail of ‘what about the children?’ hand-wringing, unregenerate transphobia and MAGA-friendly demonizing of medical expertise.”
MSNBC talking head Joy Reid brought far-left Democrats on her show on Feb. 22 to call homophobic and transphobic Florida’s bill banning public schools from teaching “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” to kindergarteners through 3rd-graders.
It’s a common tactic from those on the left: accuse their political and ideological opponents of suffering from various phobias or disorders, whether it be homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, or “Asian phobia.” It’s a clever rhetorical move: if your opponent’s opinions are not motivated by reason and argument, but irrational fear, then you don’t need to acknowledge or refute those opinions.
In this game, the problem isn’t the argument, but the person, who is caricatured as bigoted, racist, or sexist. And if your interlocutor is that irredeemably evil, the solution isn’t to debate such a person, but to ridicule and silence him.
Of course, this is not arguing in good faith. It is instead one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book: the ad hominem, in which one party seeks to delegitimize the other (and his position) by attacking him. But there’s also a deep irony that this tactic is so frequently employed by leftists, for it is many left-wing policies that promote and engender various psychological maladies.
Consider for example the way our academic institutions have groomed younger generations to view themselves as so weak and vulnerable that even encountering an alternative opinion is viewed as a threat to their emotional well-being. The slogan that “words are violence” has migrated far beyond college campuses into corporate media and the way many on the left understand debate. Students at institutions of higher education from the University of North Texas to Middlebury College to Evergreen State College have aggressively and often violently expressed their unwillingness to have conservative voices on campus.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
These students are the next generation of our cultural elite, beginning to dominate not only academia, but media, entertainment, government, and corporations. Their demand for “safe spaces,” where they will never be confronted with ideas that might question or criticize their “identities” and life decisions, have seeped into the federal government. Their belief that offensive free speech should be limited is becoming more widespread, as calls for restrictions on “hate speech” grow — yet what constitutes “hate” seems to be anything that might refute their racial, sexual, or gender ideologies.
This points to another trait encouraged by leftist elites: narcissism. Media and prominent publishers offer endless content promoting the idea that those of supposed victim classes (be they racial, gender, sexual, or anything else) have every right to obsess over their alleged victimization and demand redress and special treatment. It doesn’t matter how tenuous such claims of oppression may be — and most are, given they are vocalized by those with elite status, making good money in the freest country in the world. These ersatz victims constantly complain that no matter how much our society favors them, it is never enough.
Dysphoric Delusions about Sex
Finally, we must mention the rise and normalization of alternative sexual identities, with an ever more confusing list of genders. We are expected to know (and respect) a risible number of pronoun options that have no connection to reality.
Not long ago, believing yourself to be a different sex than you are was considered a mental disorder that required medical treatment. Now, leading federal officials identify as transgender and businesses are exhorted to encourage trans-friendly workplaces.
Yet simply claiming to have a new gender identity doesn’t make it so, given the chromosomal and teleological nature of our bodies. And as Federalist contributor Walt Heyer regularly notes, championing transgenderism, especially for youth, aggravates rather than relieves mental illness.
None of these are simply conservative critiques. We know Gen Z has the worst mental health of any generation in America in what many scientists and pundits are calling a public health crisis. Researchers and reputable surveys have tracked the rise in narcissism among younger Americans, with the addictive, self-worshiping qualities of social media playing a significant role. And medical professionals not subservient to the LGBT lobby have warned of the damage caused by puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical mutilation, including “potential sterility, sexual dysfunction, thromboembolic and cardiovascular disease, and malignancy.”
It’s enough to ask the question: which ideologies actually encourage mental illness? For as much as the left accuses the right of suffering from a groundless, admittedly creative list of phobias, leftist institutions are the ones promoting mental illness in America.
How Leftist Institutions Promote Mental Illness
Students are coddled into believing their identities and actions are sacrosanct (unless, of course, they are conservative), never to be questioned or critiqued. The media multiply victim narratives, kindling a tribalistic narcissism that expects special treatment. And our young are told the feelings of disorientation and depression caused by societal change and normal hormonal changes during adolescence are best addressed by radical, damaging medical abuse.
The left’s ideological platform has mainstreamed a variety of mental illnesses, some of which were acknowledged as such until the aggressive politicization of psychology and sociology over the last couple of generations. The result will be generations of Americans ill-equipped for the responsibilities of civic life, as well as a substantial drain on our economy, given this weak-kneed, narcissistic, gender-dysphoric class will likely require medical care and other subsidies for the entirety of their lives.
Indeed, even their talk of “phobias” allegedly ubiquitous on the right is a component of this mental derangement. It is what First Things editor R. R. Reno calls “bigot-baiting,” when the media and academia warn their left-wing base that conservative “bigots” and their various phobias present an existential threat to leftists’ well-being.
The irony and hypocrisy of all of it would be funnier if it wasn’t harming our nation and our neighbors, who need the mental strength and emotional intelligence to combat the multitudinous domestic and foreign threats that we currently face. Do China or Russia care about safe spaces? For the sake of the country, it’s time to put the phobias, real and imagined, to rest.