My FRC talk about Social and Emotional Programming, the latest fad in Education

I recently spoke at the Family Research Council about a new fad in mass public schooling called “social and emotional learning” (SEL.) Those who advocate for SEL claim the program will give children critical life skills, such as empathy, getting along with others, and making good decisions. An organization called the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) wants a government mandate that will bring this program into every school. You can watch my FRC policy lecture here:

In this talk I give my perspective on SEL.  While good teachers are always a godsend, bureaucrats can never achieve what they promise in such programs. Especially since their framework is mass schooling. Such values and attitudes need to be taught in intimate settings of trust, such as families.  Not in hyper-bureaucratized mega-schools.  I see the SEL program as a bait-and-switch operation, because it demands universal compliance with its methods, with its content, and with its monopoly.  By its very monolithic nature as program driven by a government monopoly, it is coercive. In the video, you’ll see a clip in which a representative for SEL tells us that they “need the WHOLE child.” And if you delve into this more, you can see that the SEL program is really all about enforcing conformity: Conformity of feelings, attitudes, emotions, speech, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior.  When such things are directed by a centralized State mandate, rather than by de-centralized mediating institutions —  institutions of family, faith, and voluntary associations — there can be no freedom, nor can there be real diversity.

Gratitude for the Devotion and Labor of Fathers

Saint Joseph, patron of fathers and workers. Guido Reni c. 1640. (19th c. photograph by James or Domenico Anderson, Wikimedia Commons)



















My Father’s Day piece at the Federalist is a meditation on the contributions of fathers to the labor of their households.  You can read it here: “Rather than Judging Fathers’ Household Labor, Let’s Appreciate It.”

One of the recent feminist complaints is that men should contribute more to  housework — as in laundry, dishes, and child care.  Rarely do we hear anything about “gender equity” when it comes to the sort of household labor that is traditionally masculine.  But Dads who take on projects to add sweat equity contribute a lot to their families, though those things are little noted in the culture.  When I think of all my husband  has done to promote the little homestead, I’m grateful. And I’ve always preferred doing the housework if it frees him up for such big ticket projects.

And when I think back on my own father who actually did a lot of housework, grocery shopping, and caregiving, I am very grateful for all he contributed both as a breadwinner and on the homefront.  He was an amazing man who had a hard life. But he always appreciated his blessings, especially his family. He was cheerful,, and truly a delight to be around.  Remarkable. In my Federalist piece, I reflect on the many things he did for his family, quietly and without complaint.

I think trying to keep score in household chores is a lose-lose situation in any relationship, assuming both are contributing according to their gifts. Fathers in particular should be more appreciated for their efforts, whether the labor is “gendered” or not. Everyone has something to offer, and it’s up to the team to work out a system without fixating on 50-50.

On this Father’s Day, let’s appreciate the devotion of fathers and their unique gifts, whatever they might be.

I Hope you Had a Happy Mother’s Day (and Steered Clear of Social Gender-neering!)

My Mother’s Day essay for the Federalist this year was entitled “Let’s Realize as Moms, that Work-Life Balance Just Doesn’t Exist.”  In it, I explored what I think is going on with the meme about achieving “work-life balance” especially as it relates to motherhood and the feminist push to get more women into career leadership positions.

Many high-achieving feminists are chagrined to find — even in this day of supposed enlightenment about “gender roles” — that more women are now choosing to stay home with their kids if the family can afford to do so.  Superwoman Anne-Marie Slaughter had this to say about that:

“The pool of female candidates for any top job is small, and will only grow smaller if the women who come after us decide to take time out, or drop out of professional competition altogether, to raise children. That is exactly what has [Facebook CEO] Sheryl Sandberg so upset, and rightly so.”

Sigh. Where to begin with that?  The frustration of gender warriors like Sandberg and Slaughter has led them to devise more and more new schemes to keep the maternal instinct under control.  In my opinion, their tweaks add up to little more than a push for social engineering, or “gender-neering.”

Here’s an excerpt from my piece, which you can read in full at the above link:

To her credit, Slaughter had a good epiphany: the maternal instinct—or to use her term, the “maternal imperative”—isn’t really a choice.  It dies hard. Which, of course, leaves professional moms in a difficult spot, especially if their clueless husbands call it a day while moms are still doing all the housework and childcare after work. Not fair. I get it.

But here’s another epiphany to consider: we all live in the time-space continuum. That means absolutely nobody can “have it all.” Ever. We all must make choices with the limited time and circumstances we have. And if the maternal instinct is hardwired into us, why is it a problem?

And if you’re in the mood for more, take a look at my piece from last year in which I argue that devoted mothers are the first and last line of defense against Big Brother:  “A Little Mother Prevents Big Brother.”


March 8 as a Day of PC Reminds me of My Little Gig at the UN Conference on the Status of Women

The “International Year of the Woman” was 1975.

March 8 was introduced as the “Day of the Women” early in the 20th century when it was called International Working Women’s Day.  The first observance in the US was in 1908 and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. The communist government of the Soviet Union made it an official holiday soon after the Bolshevik revolution.  This seems logical as the mother-child bond at home was never something celebrated among communists.  Instead, a woman’s place was in the communist workforce, honored to do Drudgery for the State.

We’re hearing a lot more about the Day of the Woman this year than in previous years combined, at least in the United States.  For example, there are calls for women to take part in a general strike on March 8.  Schools around Washington, DC are engaging in political closures  for it this year.  The idea behind the strike is supposedly to help people see what it’s like to have “a day without women.”  I’m not sure how working mothers feel about the last minute political closures that will keep their kids home. Maybe they’ll stay home with the kids? That would seem ironic.  But, I suppose a day without K12 education these days should be welcomed as a day without brainwashing.

In any case, it all reminds me of a talk I gave around this time last year at the United National Conference on the Status of Women in New York.   I was honored to speak on a panel about “Political Correctness and Gender Ideology” along with Michael Walsh, author of The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, and Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM.  C-FAM wrote the event up here:  “UN Panel on Political Correctness Startles Young Social Justice Warriors.”

One of the great ironies today is that those who purport to support women are actively involved in the legal abolition of women.  Think about it.  Acceptance of gender ideology, specifically transgenderism, among feminists results in the erasure of women. Because if one’s biological sex is meaningless and interchangeable with something called “gender identity” then nobody is either male or female in the eyes of the law.  It means, for example, that I am only a woman because I think I’m a woman.  We should be challenging these folks to tell us exactly what a woman is. And why merely thinking about being male or female makes it so.

The central point in my presentation at the UN Conference was that censorship – and especially government sponsored censorship – is central to pushing through the agenda of gender ideology.  The gender identity anti-discrimination laws require us all to reject the physical reality of  our sex, and legally replace it with something called “gender identity.”  This means that being male or female can only exist in our minds. So once that notion is enshrined in law you end up with severe limits on what you express not only about your perception of reality, but about yourself.  Gender ideology does not tolerate physical sex distinctions.  It is a universal requirement based in the premise of every one of its laws passed so far – that our sex is merely “assigned at birth.” So this restricts what you may express about your own physical reality, your own personal identity, and your own relationships.

Gender ideology absolutely requires a regime of political correctness – or political conditioning – that manipulates the fears of social isolation in people in order to get them to self-censor.  Once self-censorship like this takes hold, a society can be induced to conform to any agenda at all. It takes on a life of its own.

I discussed the four main ways gender ideology serves as a vehicle for consolidating the power of the state.  I also wrote up my experience at the event in the Fall 2016 issue of The Human Life Review in an article entitled, “Transgenderism: A Creature of Political Correctness.”

Two Quotes on Ignorance and Tyranny

Let’s spark imaginations, not stupid Molotov cocktails.

Maximillien Robespierre was a major figure of the French Revolution, probably best known for his role in the reign of terror.  I only bring him up because of this fascinating quote:

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

In that same vein, Thomas Jefferson noted:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

But what is education?  What is ignorance? What do those words mean?   Today, only a clear and free mind — not one that has been pre-programmed — can begin to approach the true answers to those questions.  And that’s because our language has been so throughly corrupted by radical education reforms that have replaced content knowledge with politically correct scripts in our schools.  In his novel, 1984, George Orwell showed how the corruption of language leads to a dystopia whose people will accept as true such slogans as “Ignorance is Strength” and “Freedom is Slavery.”

So we need to demand the teaching of real knowledge.  Our schools should encourage natural curiosity instead of enforcing politically correct scripts that squash that curiosity.  They should allow for real tolerance instead using a PC label of tolerance that’s only meant to empower the power mongers, and to smear anybody with whom they disagree.  If we don’t do these things, we have essentially given in to the building of a cult mindset.

Instead, let’s encourage the building of axemaker’s minds that will promote innovation, self-reliance, true community building, and real knowledge.  And let’s fight the mind arson that’s been committed for too long by radical education “reformers.” By doing all of these things, we can begin to spark the productive fire of imagination, not the ignorance that causes people to mindlessly throw Molotov cocktails.  In this way, we can promote domestic tranquility, real friendship, and the possibility of real love among us.


On Friendship, Faith, and Martyrdom

Faith Abbott McFadden (1931-2011)

October 6 is the feast day of Saint Faith of Agen.  Few people are aware that there is actually a saint named “Faith” in the martyrologies of the Church.  I took the occasion of her feast day to write about my friendship with the late Faith Abbott McFadden, who was senior editor of The Human Life Review until her death in 2011.   The good folks at Review posted my reminiscences on their blog today.

Faith was a champion of the fight for life, and she was a huge influence on me.  She and I had a 20 year correspondence in which we shared our observations on the changing culture and life in general.  Today’s struggle to create a culture that respects and values human life was central to Faith’s work.

We both understood that to openly identify as pro-life is an act that will get you socially rejected in most social and academic circles. And to persist in doing so – to refuse to trade in the Truth for the shiny objects of worldly “rewards” no matter the price — is where true martyrdom begins. Martyrs who hold that fast to the Faith are willing to shed blood if it comes to that.  That’s the story of Saint Faith of Agen.  Though mention of that saint never came up in our correspondence — I only discovered Saint Faith recently — today I seek to link the devotions of both women.

And so I offer this excerpt from the Review’s blog on the feast day of Saint Faith:

Saint Faith’s refusal to renounce Christ and sacrifice to pagan gods got her tortured and killed. And that’s what true martyrdom is about, really:  refusing to bow down to idolatry under pain of punishment, and even death.  It means holding fast to Faith.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and an old French adage rings truer than ever:  “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”  My favorite translation of that is this: “The more things ‘change,’ the more you get same old, same old, same old.”  Indeed, as we witness the lightening erosion of religious liberty in today’s transformed America, we are increasingly facing the same choice as Saint Faith and all the saints: true worship or idolatry? God or mammon?

Such are the things my friend Faith and I reflected on.  And I can hear Faith adding a stoic “Natch” to all of the above.  I believe her outreach to me — and to everyone — was built on her understanding that God leads us to do his work through friendship, through one-on-one personal relationships, influencing the lives of others as well as our own lives.

I still fall short whenever I try to express the impact her letters had—and continue to have—on my life. And why wouldn’t I fall short? Why wouldn’t anyone who ponders the influence of another person on their life fall short in sizing it up?

I think the answer lies in the eternal mystery of love and the limitless trajectories a life can take. It lies in the fact that every human life is an entire universe of God’s making. There is just no way that the effect of one life upon another can be measured or predicted.

You can read the whole post here:



What Happens when Human Beings are Neutered in Law?

The other day Public Discourse ran my piece entitled “A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized Society.”  It was my analysis of President Obama’s directive to enforce a transgender policy on all K-12 bathroom and locker room facilities throughout the nation.  We need to understand that this project has nothing to do with “gender identity” or civil rights for anybody.  That’s the pretext, sure.  But the endgame is to abolish all sex distinctions in law.  That’s definitely the trajectory we’re on.  We can already see the telltale signs with government documents such as passport applications no longer allowing for the identification of mother and father, but only the more generic term “parent.”  In Canada, nine plaintiffs to the high court have sought to have sex distinctions removed from all birth certificates.

So obviously, this agenda applies universally.  We need to get that through our heads.  It’s not about transgender individuals.  They are merely the vehicles, the pawns that the administration is using to push this project through.  But in the end, it’s about every single one of us. It means we are all in the de-humanizing process of being legally “de-sexed.” And like sheep to the slaughter, so many of us just don’t seem to get it.

This “gender identity” nonsense is the cornerstone of probably the biggest social engineering project in human history.  That’s because it will allow the mass state to treat us only as isolated individuals, separated from our familial relationships.  When the State no longer has to recognize the existence of “male” or “female,” would it have to recognize the existence of a husband and wife or a mother and father? I don’t think so. Nor any other biological relationship.  And therefore, no relationships at all. This would eventually wipe out spousal immunity, which means the state can force spouses to testify against one another in court.  It puts the State in a stronger position to regulate personal relationships.  As you know, my theme on this blog is that personal relationships are the source of all real power.  So if you go along with this transgender project, I believe you are ceding that power to the state (for everybody) whether you know it or not.

Of course, no law can make reality go away.  But the force of law can manipulate you to behave as though reality has gone away.   Here’s an excerpt from my article, which I hope you’ll read:

What will happen when all of society is sexless in both language and law? If the law does not recognize your body as physically male or female—applying only the word “gender” to your internal, self-reported self-perception—does the law even recognize your body? Every single cell of you has either “male” or “female” written into its DNA, but the law refuses to recognize such categories. Such laws will only recognize an infinite, immeasurable “gender spectrum,” your place on which is determined only by your mind. So what exactly are you after the law has de-sexed you? In what sense is your body a legal entity?

And what happens to your familial relationships after the law has de-sexed you? Are they legally recognized? I don’t see how they could be. Certainly not by default, certainly not by the recognition that each child comes through the union of two opposite-sex parents.

In the end, there is nothing “brave” about this new world chaos. Just sheer insanity.


The Devoted Mother is the First and Last Line of Defense against Big Brother

Mary Cassatt, Breakfast in Bed (1897)

Happy Mother’s Day.  For me this is a time to contemplate the difference devoted mothers make in our lives. And the difference is much more seismic than it is sentimental.  That’s the subject of my lengthy essay at The Federalist this past week.  Of all the things we take for granted in this life, the sacrificial love of a mother is at the top of that list.  We forget how that bonding has a such a stabilizing and humanizing effect on people — until we are confronted with the depth and breadth of today’s cultural rot.

And the gifts of devoted motherhood are magnified countless times over in the context of an intact family, when the child gains the positive effects of strong and healthy mother-child-father bonds. Unfortunately, broken families and dysfunctional motherhood and fatherhood are epidemic today.  So, we ought to ask ourselves: Whom does that brokenness serve?  There’s no question in my mind that it serves the bureaucratic, authoritarian State, the source of so many policies that serve to break up families.  In a word, the Orwellian monster known as Big Brother. He’s all about separating people and trying to extinguish real love and real beauty.

You can read my article at this link:  “A Little Mother Prevents Big Brother.”  The 19th century philosopher Edmond Burke wrote about the “little platoons” of society being the ultimate source of all other affections:  friendship, community, love of country, love of one’s fellow man.  Erase the little platoons, and you’ve erased the source of all human affections. Here’s the relevant Burke quote that I include in my article:

“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.”

Without those bonds to our “little platoons” — which begin in the family, and specifically through the instinctive mother-child bond — there can be no real inter-connectedness.  Just a fake and forced “collectivism” that takes the place of love.  The instinctive maternal bond has been meddled with, abused and broken through a variety of forces.  The sexual revolution plays a huge role, along with the false doctrine of gender ideology and the siren call of government dependency.  And when we see how coalitions of big government and big corporations are bullying  small businesses and families to bend to the dictates of transgenderism — which has the end effect of abolishing motherhood and fatherhood — we can’t help but see traitors bartering away the family life of others for their own personal advantage, their own power.

But as C.S. Lewis noted in his essay “The Abolition of Man,” we owe a great debt to the “beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.”

Let’s try to shore up the remaining sanity by shoring up the strength of our little platoons and injecting them with a fresh and heavy dose of such obstinacy.  Let’s celebrate and encourage the devoted and sacrificial love of our mothers to help them deliver that antidote against the poisons of Big Brother.

A Happy Childhood is the Root Cause of “Privilege,” and It’s Nothing to Apologize for

“Privilege theory” claims that the “haves” are basically endowed with “privilege” that comes from being white or male or heterosexual or any number of other things.  And that such people should engage in self-criticism and privilege awareness for being responsible for inequality and the suffering of “have-nots” in society.

But it’s more likely that what these self-appointed “diversity and equality” experts see as privilege actually has its source in something else:  the gift of sacrificial love to a child from his or her parents.  Such sacrifice by parents gives a child an immense sense of security and happiness that allows him or her to explore the world with gusto and joy.  The child isn’t aware that this is “privilege,” nor should he or she be.  Because, when you think about it, it is more likely every child’s right – to feel connected and loved by his or her own parents whenever possible. This is the thesis I presented in my Federalist article last week:  “Privilege Theory is a War on Happy Childhoods.”

To illustrate, you can watch NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen explain how his success is due to having attentive and loving parents. This is yet another testimonial to the fact that true power ultimately comes from having strong personal relationships.


Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Herein lies the real root of “privilege”—its deepest root, in fact. Having loving family bonds is the foundation for success. The good news is that a society need only have an ethos that recognizes and supports such family bonds to make them accessible to virtually all children.

Obviously, there’s nothing “white” about valuing family and personal relationships. Likewise for good habits, such as thrift, common courtesy, or diligence. What about attitudes of kindness and generosity? Good attitudes are equal-opportunity decisions. They don’t belong to an ethnic “ideology” that causes inequality. Quite the contrary. Everyone is capable of good habits, and such habits are worth praising and instilling in everyone.

If we all promoted these attitudes, we’d be a lot happier. We’d have much better things to do than constantly inspect the proverbial grass on the other side. We’d learn more and prosper more. But of course, not every child today is blessed (“privileged”) with a mother and father together willing to nurture and sacrifice for their child.

GOP Governors Enlist with Transgender War Against Science, Human Rights, and Consent

The symbol of the transgender movement combines astrological symbols for male (Mars) and female (Venus) with shades of blue and pink.  (Wikimedia Commons) Even if I didn’t know what it stood for, I’d take pause because it just feels so swastika-ish.

The other day I published an essay at The Federalist about the political significance of South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard’s caving to the mafia-style tactics of the LGBT lobby.  He was the latest in a string of GOP governors who are shrinking from laws that protect freedom of conscience as well as children’s privacy.  You can read it here:  “South Dakota’s Governor Tucks Tail, and Runs from LGBT Mafia.”

After the South Dakota legislature passed a bill to allow schools to maintain separate restroom and locker room facilities for males and females, Gov. Daugaard actually vetoed the bill. His veto was basically the result of the craven cronyism that has saturated the corporate world.  Big business has been infused with the LGBT agenda for decades now, and their leaders at Chambers of Commerce everywhere generally do the bidding of the LGBT lobby. In addition to corporate pressure, Daugaard personally met with transgender activists who no doubt played victim while making clear that anything less than a veto would get him publicly tarred and feathered.

That article followed on one I co-authored last week with with Joy Pullmann: “The Transgender War Against Science, Human Rights, and Consent.”   In it we investigated legislation – such as that passed by South Dakota’s legislature – that would allow access to school children’s restrooms and locker rooms to continue as it always has: according to anatomical sex. Another South Dakota bill was aptly titled “An Act to Ensure Government Nondiscrimination in Matters of Religious Beliefs and Moral Convictions.” In other words, if you have serious beliefs about sex, marriage, and children, you needn’t be forced to perform acts that violate your conscience or totally gag yourself for fear of being fired.  But that bill was tabled, which is a grim sign for the future of freedom of conscience.

We had high hopes that Governor Daugaard of South Dakota would stand strong on principle and sign that legislation into law — or at least take no action and allow it to become law.  But between the well-monied LGBT lobby and the business world it controls, it seems a pipe dream to expect any official to stand on principle these days. The irony is that probably 90 percent of the population is on board with the South Dakota legislation to support freedom of conscience and privacy.   But the heckler’s veto can be a strong one if good people remain silent in the face of it.

Here are a few excerpts from that article on how the LGBT heckler’s veto works:

Their prescription was to first de-sensitize the public. Then to “jam” or suppress every word of dissent. Finally, everyone must convert. This cultivates a conditioned population. Once we are conditioned in this manner, we end up accepting agendas and programs that we’d at least question if our society respected clear and free thinking. Instead, people either self-censor or conform to the party line out of hope for social acceptance.

Representative government requires the citizens, who are themselves the source of our government’s authority, to be able to openly discuss social questions among themselves and consequently direct their representatives.

If we are afraid or taught not to speak, representative government cannot happen. Tiny factions like the LGBT lobby wield power over an unwilling populace, which breeds resentment against government for not aligning with our priorities. Political correctness therefore eviscerates government by consent; under it, government operates based on brute force, which escalates public disapproval in a constant cycle until the social repression is broken—sometimes with (God forbid) violence.