Wish for Order Watch, 7/2
The New Yorker picks up the theme
A reader pointed me to a post by Alex Berenson, which in turn covers a piece in The New Yorker. The public is in a resentful mood toward government elites.
Berenson says that this a problem for the left, as the party of government.
They took our rights. The media and public health authorities would like you to forget the closed playgrounds and shuttered malls and mask mandates of 2020. And the vaccine mandates of last fall. They want you to forget that for a while, the federal government tried to take the right to work from tens of millions of unvaccinated people. State and local governments went even further; and countries like Canada and Australia further still. UNTIL 10 DAYS AGO, CANADA DID NOT ALLOW UNVACCINATED PEOPLE ON PLANES - effectively curtailing their right to travel in a country that stretches more than 4,000 miles from British Columbia to Newfoundland.
And they took our rights FOR NOTHING.
The New Yorker brings up the issue of schools and gender ideology.
Rufo recounted a story that he said he’d heard from a mother on the Upper East Side, who told him that her daughter was transitioning, with the help of an online community, and felt that this community “had essentially taken her away from me.” The mother, he said, told him that she knew half a dozen other Upper East Side parents with similar stories. “It’s not just that we’re going to teach your child that the country is evil,” he went on. “It’s really the fear—and I think the legitimate fear—that my child will essentially be recruited into a new identity.”
Perhaps I should double-down on my analogy between transitioning and suicide. Imagine what your reaction would be if your school wanted to help your child to surface and to carry out a desire to commit suicide.
A few weeks ago, I wrote,
My sense is that many people are tired of what they see as disorder on city streets, with the pandemic. . .
Is the wish to restore order the dominant feeling these days? Is there a way to satisfy that wish?
Many people are seeing disorder up close. Soaring food prices. Rents rising at record rates. Air travel in disarray. Shortages of baby formula and tampons. And of course the price of gasoline.
People can read about a spike in homicides. The reliably thorough Scott Alexander examines the research and concludes
I think there’s clear evidence that the current murder spike was caused primarily by the 2020 BLM protests. The timing matches the protests well, and the pandemic poorly. The spike is concentrated in black communities and not in any of the other communities affected by the pandemic. It matches homicide spikes corresponding to other anti-police protests, most notably in the cities where those protests happened but to a lesser degree around the country. And the spike seems limited to the US, while other countries had basically stable murder rates over the same period.
I understand this is the opposite of what lots of other people are saying, but I think they are wrong.
Alex Tabarrok also supports this conclusion.
I imagine that what Rob Henderson calls luxury beliefs are not going to win over an electorate concerned with disorder.
Advocating for open borders and drug experimentation are good ways of advertising your membership of the elite because, thanks to your wealth and social connections, they will cost you less than me.
I recently realized that Rob Henderson’s theory has echoes of Thomas Sowell:
“The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”
I've been rolling the framing of transitioning as suicide around in my mind. Very thought provoking. It must surely be an exaggeration even if it provides some insights as an analogy. There is still shared experience , legal connections, and more connecting you to someone who transitioned.
But there are two senses that made it seem correct. The first comes from the trans rights movement, the idea that your old name, from before you transitioned, is called your "dead name". That old person, the one with that old name, is dead to them too it seems.
Second, in the movie The Emerald Forest, there is the following exchange:
Tomme, you think you are a man...
but I only see a stupid boy.
Your time has come to die.
Must he die?
I will never see my boy again.
The boy is dead...
and the man is born.
Basically, the tribe's position is that the boy has to die for the man to be born. That there are stages and rituals that fundamentally separate people from earlier in their lives. I think there is a recognition that puberty and parenthood can be like that and it can be traumatic but good. Maybe transitioning is an example of a similarly irreversible transformation of the self.