Licensing Parents?

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/16/Phenylketonuria_testing.jpg/1024px-Phenylketonuria_testing.jpg“Imagine you cannot raise your own child without special permission from the state. In this matrix, getting permission means getting a license. And getting a license means the state performs psychological evaluations and background checks and passes judgment on your fitness to be a parent.”

The above is an excerpt  from my Federalist essay today:  “Licensing Parents: A Statist Idea in Libertarian Drag.”   In it I focus on an article I read recently, entitled “Licensing Parents,” which was written by an academic named Andrew Cohen and appeared on a website that claims to be libertarian and run by several pretty well established academics whose slogan is “free markets and social justice.”   Though it ran a couple of years ago, I thought it noteworthy to see the whole concept of children as state property dressed up as a libertarian idea. My article today did not discuss a piece on the same topic which ran last month in Wired:  “It’s Time to Reconsider Restricting Human Breeding,” by Zoltan Istvan.   I hope to get to that later.

I expect to see more of a drumbeat on the idea of licensing parents as the government takes over more and more functions of the family.  (The best friends these programs have may be folks who claim to be for limited government.) Along with those policies comes a watering down — and basically a takeover — of all of our personal relationships by the State.  Naturally, it starts with the takeover of the family.  We can no longer write off such ideas as “wacky” since we live in an era of particularly implausible and wacky government policies now coming to fruition. So please read, digest, and fight on.

What is a Human? — Part III

“Greetings from Earth” Image of male and female, representing the reality of humanity, as inscribed on plaques in Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecrafts, launched by NASA, 1972, 1973.

If you’re a reasonable person, you probably don’t mind engaging on a topic that involves the reality of things.  Facts are within this realm.  Observable truth, is, for example, that Boston is north of Washington.  Of course, we must all agree on the definition of the word “North” in order to arrive at any agreement. And we must all agree on the relative locations of Washington and Boston.  If everyone in the room were suddenly to challenge this fact, and say that Boston is south of Washington, you’d be taken aback.

When a fact is challenged loudly, it’s destabilizing because that takes us to a place of unreality.  If we’re stuck in that realm long enough we can lose our compass, our anchor. And things start looking very surrealistic as we enter that Twilight Zone.

Exchanging opinions, beliefs and various dogmas are a different story.  If you believe something very strongly, but it’s not part of the realm of universally observable fact, you should expect some skepticism when you express it publicly.  UFOs fall into this category.  And I would say transgenderism does as well.  The problem is that transgender law is hellbent on challenging essential facts about human reality.

One observable fact about humanity — defined in science as well as biblically and in the plaque of the Pioneer spacecraft illustrated above  – is that it comes in two kinds. Males and females are the same in all of their biological systems, except for the reproductive system. In that they are absolutely distinct.  The question transgenderism raises for us is:  Can a person who rejects the sex they were “assigned” at birth become the other sex because he or she believes it to be so?  If you say the answer is “Yes,” then pray tell: what does that mean for our sense of reality?

It means some seismic things.  If we no longer agree on the definition of terms “male” and “female” that has vast implications for everything else in the landscape.  When the terms are corrupted, when the map is compromised, people easily become displaced and disoriented, without direction — which means ripe for manipulation.  This changes the whole experience of being human, placing us in a trap of ambiguity as to who and what we are.

If that’s where transgenderism leads us, what does it bode for human relationships?  And power and freedom?

To be continued . . . .

 

What is a Human?

“What is a Woman?” is the title of a very recent feature about transgenderism in New Yorker Magazine.    It focuses on a bitter debate going on between transgender activists and radical feminists.  The trans activists would have you believe that being a woman is something you can define for yourself.  They’d say a man is a woman if he believes himself to be so.  “Not so!” retort the radical feminists who reject that idea pretty much as just another example — quirky but more insidious than ever — of male chauvinism.   The latter call themselves “rad fems” and seem to be a remnant of the feminism of the 60’s.  Rank and file feminists of today have marginalized and abandoned them, choosing to fall in line with the trans agenda.

If you have the chance to read the New Yorker piece at the link above, you’ll want to ask yourselves these questions:  What do the trans activists want?  What do the rad fems want?  What exactly is going on here?  And what has it got to do with me?  On the last point I would say it has everything to do with you.  This is not a debate we can chuckle about on the sidelines.  For those not tuned into the gender wars, this may seem amusing.

But I personally see nothing amusing about it.  There’s something seismic going on beneath the surface and we ought to be very aware of it.  What is really at stake here is not merely a matter of defining what a woman is.  There is a hidden and much bigger question at stake:  “What is a Human?” And that’s the question the trans agenda really intends to settle for each and every one of us.  It’s intended to define all of us and all of our personal relationships.

Let’s pay attention . . . to be continued tomorrow.

 

With Big “Borg” Government, Resistance isn’t Futile. Submission is Futile.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Trek, but I’m fascinated with one of its stock villains “The Borg.” The Borg is a collectivist hive mind that goes through the universe, sucking in everyone in its path, erasing individual identity.   Up at the Federalist today is my essay about the dangers of big government, with my take on the Borg:  “The Government is the Borg and Resistance Isn’t Futile.” Click here to read it in full.

The Borg’s stated goal is utopian: to “achieve perfection.”  It greets its victims by saying “Resistance is futile.”  Sounds a little bit like how bureaucracies work.   My point is that whenever power gets too unchecked, too unbalanced, too centralized, it’s on a trajectory to abuse that power.  And the ultimate destination if left unchecked seems always to be imposition of death.  That’s just a fact of history and a fact of life.

I wish everyone would become familiar with two fascinating studies that have been done on the dangers of centralized power.  The first is the book Death by Government, by R J Rummel (d. 2014) His central point — echoing Lord Acton’s famous quote that  “power corrupts” — is that power kills and absolute power kills absolutely.  Rummel spent much of his career compiling statistics of 20th century death tolls from government abuses of power.  The bottom line?  169 million lives lost through government killing of its own people.  How does this compare with all the casualties — both military and civilian — of all the wars and conflicts of the 20th century? 38 million.   Death by government was more than four times more lethal than all the wars of the 20th century combined.

The second study is a course entitled “Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century” in which University of Tennessee Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius draws the direct connection between master plans for Utopian societies and the terror that is always required to push those utopian programs forward. (You can obtain this series of  very engaging lectures from thegreatcourses.com.) Seems utopian dreamers have no patience or tolerance for any kind of resistance whether active or passive.

I think the best defense is for everyone to champion their own individuality with the understanding that other people matter.  That’s the whole basis of de-centralized power. Speak your mind thoughtfully, with the understanding that free speech is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Cultivate friendships. Reach out in goodwill, one on one and face to face.  And be of good cheer.  Solid relationships are the best bulwark against state power.  A sense of humor always comes in very handy, too.

In the end, it is not resistance that is futile.  Submission is what really kills us all in the end.  Submission is futile.

 

Are we Headed to a Future Claiming “All your Children Belong to Us?”

Where are we headed?   Looks like a pretty dystopian future, which should be obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention.   For a preview, remember when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry told us us we “have to get over our notion that children belong to their parents or their families.” We need a more “collective” idea, she asserted.  Watch here:

Last year I wrote an article about this: “The War on the Family Enters a New Stage,” which you can read by clicking here. 

But moving “forward” Glenn Cook of the Las Vegas Review-Journal offers a fascinating report: “All your children Belong to Us.”  Cook notes what’s going on in Scotland, a push to assign each family an official state guardian.  It’s chilling:

The Scottish government for years has pursued what amounts to state-sponsored surveillance of families. By August 2016 — unless a court or public pressure can stop it — the country will appoint an official state guardian for every child in Scotland. The jobs will be filled by teachers, social workers, health care professionals and the like. The feel-good part of the plan makes every guardian a personal resource to families, available to answer questions. The sinister part of the plan gives those guardians access to a family’s records, and requires them to monitor and report every child’s development and welfare and recommend household changes. Thus, legislation to expand free school meals and subsidized child care becomes the means to create the Family Stasi.

What happens when a family doesn’t return a guardian’s call to check in? What happens when a parent rejects an, ahem, friendly suggestion from said guardian using a few choice curse words? A knock on the door from police and social workers, that’s what.

We all know that destruction of family autonomy has been a top priority of so-called progressives for many years,  centuries, even.  Yet it’s hard to fathom that such an agenda could ever really prevail.

I think we’ve gotten this far on the road to hell for four basic reasons.  First, we can’t fathom that anyone would let it happen, and can’t fathom that anyone would even want it to happen, so many of us simply tune out those agendas as mad ravings. Second, the ground has been softened through the breakdown of families, particularly the absence of fathers, as more people buy into the bait offered by the so-called progressives.  Third,  the side pushing to control our relationships has been unrelenting and very organized. Fourth, all of the above results in a resistance that is weak and disorganized.

The only way around this — and it’s daunting — is to actually build a resistance.  How?  I’m not sure, but I know how it has to start.  It has to start with individuals talking one-on-one to others, as friends — not as adversaries — and expressing what they feel about this.  We can’t allow this sort of group think to sink in.  By openly sharing our concerns about these things to others, we open them up to sensing and see a resistance that they can be a part of.  That’s where it has to begin.  It would also help to have leaders who are real leaders, not peacocks obsessed with their turf.  It requires a lot of adaptability, strength of character, wits, and dedication.

The Tank Man: A Study in Courage

Here’s something to think about on the Fourth of July.  It’s been 25 years since the demonstrations for democracy in Tiananmen Square were brutally suppressed by the communist government of China.  Take a look at the astonishing video below of one of those protesters, widely known as the “Tank Man.”

 If you’ve never seen the footage before, it will captivate you.  If you’re like most and have seen it before, the Fourth of July is a good time to watch it again. The identity and fate of the Tank Man is not known.  But he showed us something magnificent: that real courage  scares the living daylights out of tyrants.  Especially if there are witnesses, but even if there aren’t.  

A tiny power elite — in this case, the dozen of so members of inner inner circle of the Chinese government — just can’t deal with it when a member of the masses defies them by speaking or acting without their permission.   And I’m not even talking about what the Tank Man did, but what he confronted:  a column of tanks sent in to shut people up.  That’s why all tyrants fight self-expression so much.  First they have to separate us and get control over our relationships, usually through emotional blackmail like political correctness.  The point is to socially isolate any dissenter. It causes people to silence what they believe so that few seem to express those beliefs anymore.  Then, once you feel sufficiently alone, the elites make sure there’s no escape from their program.  It’s just like being stuck in a cult.

In fact, of all the first amendment freedoms, it seems totalitarians feel most threatened by freedom of association.   

In the first days of the Tiananmen Square protests, I remember watching some of the students interviewed by Western media and being absolutely astonished as they quoted in English from the Declaration of Independence. My husband and I looked at each other, jaws dropped, after we heard one of the young men say to reporters:  

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”    

It made me cry. What will it take for so many young Americans today to understand the miracle of those words ever being put into law?  Would they understand it only if they had to live with what happened to the Chinese demonstrators:  the massacre, the tanks rolling into them?  (Many were crushed by the tanks.  Literally. This was described to me by one eyewitness I spoke to years later at a wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

On a positive note, ponder the ripple effects that just one person can cause.  Not only does the Tank Man live on in the memory of millions, but it seems the 1989 protests in  Tiananmen Square triggered many reforms in China.

I keep Vaclav Havel’s quote in the upper corner of this blog to remind readers of what any one person can do:

“his action went beyond itself because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.”

 

The Transgender Movement Redefines the Humanity of Us All

Have you thought about what will happen if we erase all gender distinctions in the law?  That question is the basis of my recent Federalist article linked here:  “How the Trans-Agenda Seeks to Redefine Everyone.”

I hope you’ll think it through too.  Gender Identity is a term that is not meant to apply simply to a minority demographic.  It is a term foisted upon everyone universally. Take a look at the following definition of gender identity, from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.

It’s a new framing of what it means to be human, and it’s about you whether you like it or not.  Your sex is merely “designated” at birth, according to this legal definition.  The erasure of gender distinctions is also meant to apply to reproductive rights, which means we are not supposed to assume that only women get pregnant.  To understand how such language will change the relationships of the individual to the state, read on.   The implications for state meddling in family and other relationships are vast.  A brief excerpt here:

If we agree to change language to suit the transgender lobby, we ultimately agree to destroy in law the entire basis (sex distinctions) for the only union that can result in autonomously formed families. The implications for privacy and personal relationships are vast, and we need to understand that.

If you think you’ll be able to cultivate and preserve strong personal relationships in this new matrix, you are mistaken. That can’t easily happen in a system in which your familial relationships are not acknowledged or respected by the State. This gender-neutral scheme obliterates the template for the family as a unit. And if the family is no longer accepted as a union that originates through the union of male and female, there is no real basis for the State to recognize any family as an autonomous unit. Without any such obligation, children become more easily classified as state property and our personal relationships are more easily controlled by the state. If that sounds totalitarian, that’s because it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Fathers Never Die. They Love Beyond the Grave.

Father’s Day might be behind us for this year, but the impact of fatherhood is always huge, and it runs very deep.  In my latest Federalist essay, I examine the power of the father-child relationship:   “You are Twelve Men:” A Story of Fatherhood.  It’s an account of Francis Bok’s Escape from Slavery.

Imagine — if you can — what it must be like to be a seven-year-old boy who witnesses a massacre, and then is captured by one of the killers to serve as a slave:  In addition to enduring beatings, hunger, and degradation, you are completely isolated from anyone with whom you can talk.  The loneliness enshrouds you.  It goes on this way, with beatings and degradation, for ten solid years.  You are finally able to making a harrowing escape.

In Sudan, from 1986 until 1996, Francis Bok survived this unfathomable assault on his dignity and his childhood. How?  What sustained him and essentially saved him?  Answer: Calling on the memory of his loving parents, especially his father who instilled Francis with strength and trust in God.  Francis’ father would tell him: “You are twelve men!”  In the words of Francis:

“I told myself that I must stay strong. My father would want me to be strong. . . they could not touch my thoughts and dreams. In my mind I was free, and it was there in that freedom that I planned my escape.

‘God is always with you,’ my parents had told me. ‘Even when you are alone, He is with you. . . . When you ask God for what you need, He will help you . . .’ Alone at night sitting in my hut, I remembered that. My father once said to me, ‘Even when you are one, you are two. If you are two, you are three.’

I was really muycharko . . . I began to believe that my father had been right: I was really ‘twelve men.’”

The question we must ask is this:  If a father can have such an impact from the grave on a child so alone and oppressed, how dare anyone devalue fatherhood? 

In fact, this question is not rhetorical, because the answer is real.  It’s in Francis’s own words above:  His father’s love empowered him.   It made him free.  Unfortunately, those who seek to control us see this as a problem, and a threat to their sense of power. So these forces are always trying to separate us from those who truly love us.  How dare they?  We need to stay aware of — and fight —  these constant and insane assaults on our relationships.

 

 

 

Social Media, Loneliness, and Isolation

Two recent articles in the Federalist are related to this blog’s theme of “relationships, power, and freedom.”  Both articles are packed with insights and I highly recommend you click on the links below and read them.

The Loneliness of Not Knowing Ourselves by D.C. McAllister and What Abortion Selfies Tell us about American Community, by Ben Domenech explore how social media seem to have made people more isolated, not less.  Ironically, social media can provide only a faint illusion of connection with others.  For too many, it’s become little more than veil for loneliness, making it even worse.  One danger is that as  people become more alienated and isolated, they become more susceptible to manipulation and control.

Without the real connection of being in the physical presence of others, McAllister, notes, we cannot really be known either to ourselves or someone else.   We can’t really share.  She adds:  “And that is what we want. That is what human connection is all about. It’s being known. This is one of the great themes (and great comforts) of Scripture. We are known by God. Before we were born, he knew us (Jer. 1:5), he knows us better than we know ourselves (Rom. 8:27), the Shepherd knows his sheep (John 10:14), our Creator has searched us and knows us—and still loves us (Psalm 139).

Earlier this month, Ben Domenech reflected upon the decision of an abortion counselor to film her own surgical abortion and try to put a positive spin on it by posting the video to the internet:

“The concept of the abortion selfie is in some ways an inevitable consequence of an increasingly atomized culture. Consider instead the lure that would motivate one to seek to share this moment, and then to share in the reaction to this moment from social media, and then to share again in the reaction to that reaction in the pages of Cosmo. This is an individual seeking out the affirmation and attention of others – for good or ill, it is an attempt to find a community, a grasping for a sense of belonging.”

And I believe he is exactly right.  Her act was not only destructive of life and so much else, but it was also an act motivated by an urge for attention and validation, a craving for community. My hope is that as we better understand this motivation in human beings, we might learn how to breach the walls and overcome the forces that separate us.

 

How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State

Have you noticed a recent push to keep single people single?  It’s out there.  Click here for my latest essay at The Federalist:  “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State.”  It  examines advice given across the board to all single working class mothers:  “Don’t get married.”  Specifically, a recent article at Slate, co-authored by two feminist legal scholars, states that single mothers should “Just say no” to marriage.

So what’s with that?  Of course marriage is a choice and it’s impossible to discern whether or not the choice is a good one without knowing all of the  details and circumstances in any given case.  But the Slate piece comes down almost as a manifesto claiming that these moms ( never mind their children) are better off going it alone.

But if we step back, we can see a bigger picture emerging.  It’s as though individuals in our society are being nudged today towards isolation, away from human companionship that is autonomous and real — and pushed into a sterile form of “community” in which the state calls all of the shots in our lives.  Perhaps that’s why it seems those pushing big government agendas seem unfriendly — and even hostile — towards strong personal relationships.

Here’s an excerpt from the Federalist piece:

Strong relationships are about teamwork:  real communication, real cooperation, real trust, and real fellowship.  How might individuals seek to cultivate these things?  They can, you know, if government gets out of the way.  And teamwork is about self-sacrifice, which is a dirty word these days.  Yes, strong relationships may be difficult to produce.  But that’s what makes them strong.  The blacksmith analogy is apt:  the tempering of the iron in the fire – as with a relationship through trials — will give it shape and strength.

But the really dirty little secret statists would rather you not know is this:  strong relationships of mutual self-sacrifice yield the greatest prosperity of every kind – spiritual, emotional, and material – for everyone.

The hunger for strong family relationships will persist.  Social engineers can only offer weak “communitarian” relationships as cheap imitations for the real thing, which, in the end, is real, human love.