For 150 years, Democrats used the Big Lie about race to justify slavery and Jim Crow, and now they’re using the Big Lie technique to challenge gender norms.
I want to share a thought with you that starts with slavery and ends with transsexuals. To get from one to the other, I have to start with one of the few decent classes I had when I was at UC Berkeley. That senior seminar looked at the history of race relations in America versus those in Brazil.
When I took the class, I had no interest whatsoever in the history of race relations. I was an English history major — the English isle, to be precise — and everything else was a distant second. Still, it became apparent to me very quickly that I was not alone and that I would not get into my preferred seminar. You see, back in the day, when it came time for enrollment in senior seminars, the history teachers would seat themselves at random intervals in the big lecture room at Dwinelle Hall. Students would then approach the teachers as supplicants, begging to get into this or that seminar.
As soon as I walked in the room, I saw that the professors teaching the seminars in which I was interested were besieged. I had no desire to hurl myself into that scrum. Instead, I checked out the teachers who were not surrounded by adoring students.
Only one of the other teachers caught my interest because he was so darn handsome. After I ascertained that he had openings in his seminar and that it worked for my schedule, I signed up, not even caring what he was teaching. And so it was that I ended up learning about the history race relations in the US and Brazil.
Fortunately, for me, that handsome young graduate student was an excellent teacher. It made up for the fact that he was happily married, had a baby, and would in any event not have been interested in me. It also made up for the fact that the reading materials were deadly dull.
Thirty years later, the only takeaway I had from the class is that America was rather unique in its “one drop of blood” approach to racism. In Brazil, there’s a great deal of racism, but it’s on a graduated scale. The darker you are, the more racism you face and the lower your status in society.
Meanwhile, in America, it doesn’t matter what you look like. If you’re known to have even a drop of black blood in you, you’re black. Nor is that a racial view that’s changed since both slavery and Jim Crow ended. After all, Barack Obama, half-black and half-white genetically, was our “first black president.” He wasn’t really, of course. He was our “first half-black president” — but that’s not the way things roll in America.
The stigma against that single drop of blood has been so strong in America that it made for a great subplot in Edna Ferber’s Showboat, which started as a book, made it to Broadway as a groundbreaking musical, and then got made into two Hollywood movie musicals. (The 1936 version of the movie is the one to see.)
If you’re familiar with Showboat’s plot, you know that, when the showboat passes through Mississippi, a vengeful man, furious that the beautiful Julie LaVerne has rebuffed him, reports to the authorities that she is, in fact, a black woman. Given that her husband, Steve, is a white man, they have violated Mississippi’s miscegenation laws and he demands their arrest. The couple avoids arrest when Steve cuts Julie and licks her blood, enabling his friends on the boat to state honestly that he has that “one drop of black blood” in him.
The question, of course, is why America, of all countries, developed such a narrow, rigid, racial hierarchy. I don’t believe we addressed that in my seminar; we just observed that it was so.
In the intervening 30 years, I’ve learned a great deal more about American history and America constitutionalism. This knowledge has made me aware that, while slavery as an institution has existed since the dawn of time, it was the Enlightenment that made it the object of moral opprobrium — and it was the American Revolution’s promise of individual liberty that made slavery in America a particularly vile institution.
Once liberty became America’s founding principle, Americans had only two positions open to them: (1) they could call for slavery’s abolition as a moral wrong and a violation of America’s core principle or (2) if they were dependent on slaves for their lifestyles, they could double-down on slavery. Unfortunately for both the slavers and the slaves, the only way to double-down was to embrace a fundamental lie about the nature of African people and their American-born descendants.
To explain what I the lie, I need to back up 100 years and travel to England at the end of the 17th century. In 1688, England had its Glorious Revolution, when it bloodlessly deposed James II, who had been trying to reestablish the royal prerogatives that led to his father, Charles I, being executed in 1649.
After James II was chased from the throne, the British invited his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange to govern as joint monarchs. To keep these essentially “elected” rules in check, Parliament drew up the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Many of those rights should sound familiar to those of us who know our Constitution. They include such rights as no taxation without representation, the right to bear arms, free elections, freedom of political speech and debate, prohibition of excessive fines and “cruel and unusual punishments,” etc.
As written, these are rights that British subjects assert against the Crown. When the colonists got restive in the mid-18th century, and Parliament wanted to crack down on them, it declared that, while the Bill of Rights limited what the King could do, it placed no such limitations on Parliament.
By the time the colonists got around to enacting their own Bill of Rights, they were not going to be specific about the governing party as to which they claimed those rights, since that had proven to be too limiting an approach. Instead, the colonists looked to the Declaration of Independence’s contention “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With that idea in mind, the Constitution anchors the rights in individuals themselves, without reference to a specific governing body.
From the moment the Bill of Rights came into being, it was understood across America that Americans did not need to petition a King, a President, a Parliament, or a Congress for leave to be free from acts impinging on those rights. Instead, governing bodies had to show overwhelming proof that any infringement on these rights was of such benefit to America as a whole that it was reasonable to allow some slight imposition. The Constitution, in other words, switched the balance of power.
For those still invested in slavery, though, the Bill of Rights was an enormous problem. If all men are created equal and have inalienable rights, how can one justify owning men? And so was born the big lie. It turns out that the only way to justify this outrageous position, one that lies in opposition to the Enlightenment, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our consciences, is to claim that Africans and their descendants are not men. They are related to men, but they are a subspecies who cannot lay claim to inherent rights. Thus, the constant refrain that blacks are brutish, shiftless, incapable of learning, etc.
Of course, the proof that these were calumnies about African men and their American-born descendants was before every slaver’s eyes on a daily basis. Blacks who were not treated as subhuman beasts incapable of human conduct were entirely human. The only difference between blacks and whites was skin color. Faced with this immutable truth, unless they were willing to turn their back on their way of life (or, in the case of poor whites, their aspirations), Southern proponents of slavery could do nothing but barricade themselves deeper and deeper behind their slanderous attacks on blacks.
Human nature is such that, once you’ve take such an extreme position, especially one your conscience knows is false, you cannot afford to back away from it, not by a single iota. To do so risks exposing how weak and immoral your position is. Thus, you find yourself holding ever more extreme positions in order to justify your original lie. If blacks are subhuman, mixing their genes with white genes cannot humanize them. They must always be bestial.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, things were different. There, slavery was something that always had been and always would be. Brazil had no Enlightenment tradition of individual liberty nor did it have an abolition movement. And most certainly, Brazil’s slavers and, after slavery was finally abolished in 1888, it’s ruling class, was not troubled by attacks of conscience.
In Brazil, slaves were slaves and that was their bad luck, just as it had been bad luck for all slaves, of all races, at all times in human history. Your luck was a little better if you didn’t look like a slave. The more white blood you had mixed in, the less you looked like someone who ought to be laboring in the fields and the more you looked like someone who ought to be part of the ruling class. In other words, since Brazilians had no invested themselves in a Big Lie that they were called upon to defend every waking moment of every day, they had a lot more flexibility in dealing with factual nuances.
Ironically, then, it was America’s commitment to liberty that created the virulent racial hostility that characterized the American South from the Bill of Rights through to the Civil Rights movement. Fortunately, the Civil Rights movement truly sounded the death knell of all efforts to subordinate American blacks. That being the case, Southerners were no longer forced to defend an inherently contemptible position. Free from that intellectual burden, they finally stopped lying to themselves and start seeing blacks as people — people, moreover, who usually shared their culture and values. No wonder, then, that with the Big Lie dead in the South, the American South has become the best integrated part of America.
That’s history. What’s happening in the present is the Big Lie about gender. There too, once you start down the line of pretending that men and women can magically transmute into women and men, merely on wishes, you have to get pretty out there mentally to maintain such a risible contention. No wonder, then, that you have a major American publication such as the Huffington Post (and it is major, much as it pains me to say so), celebrating the fact that even men can have periods. (Language and image warnings.)
The reality is that HuffPo is celebrating a disturbed woman who thinks she’s a man and has tried to morph her monthly menstrual cycles into her personal male mythology. That’s an extreme position that HuffPo probably would not have staked out a decade ago. Back then, the mainstream Left still touted the more libertarian notion that people should be able to live as they wish, provided that they are not a danger to themselves or others. No pretense was required for that viewpoint; just lifestyle tolerance.
Once having achieved gay marriage, however, the Left needed to move on. It’s newest position embraces the once marginal fantasy that gender is infinitely mutable depending upon ones personal desires. Given that this is a fantasy, without any factual underpinnings (and the trans’ movements own writings, if one actually reads them, prove this to be the case), Progressives are impelled to advocate ever more ludicrous positions — and to demand that everyone else embrace them too.
In Democrats, the more things change, the more things remain the same. The Democrats spent more than a century defending the Big Lie of racism — namely, that blacks are subhuman, a position that justified slavery. And now, the Democrats are embarked upon the Big Lie of gender — namely, that gender is a meaningless construct.
The one interesting thing about their current Big Lie is how it will force Democrats into a war against themselves. With race, the battle lines were cleanly drawn between abolitionists and Republicans, on the one hand, and slavers and Democrats on the other. With the gender Big Lie, though, there’s going to come a point at which the feminist movement realizes that it’s being sold down the river (if you’ll pardon the slavery metaphor). They’ll probably figure that out when the entire women’s cohort one or two Olympics from now is composed entirely of men who claim to be women.
(For those wondering about my regular opinings on day-to-day politics, I’m pulling back a little from the news of the day. The media’s non-stop hostility is so dishonest that it’s difficult to take any news seriously. In lieu of news, I’m tempted to trust that Scott Adams once more has a good read on what Trump is doing. As he’s noted in the past, Trump managed to move the media from “Trump is Hitler,” to “Trump is incompetent.” The next move, promises Adams, is that Trump has managed to get the job done and, moreover, he’s done it in a way that will make conservatives happy. From his lips to G*d’s ears.
Oh, and did you hear that the Dems’ Pakistani IT staffers are trouble? If you did hear that, you heard it because you’re a conservative. Those of my friends who subscribe only to the MSM are in the dark on this one. This should be interesting, although I’m not following the play-by-play. I’m just waiting for the big headlines.)