Whatever you think of them, you have to admire the ability of progressives to, well, lie. If brazen, bald-faced, through-your-teeth lying were an unrenewable resource, the progressive Left would have long ago exhausted the Earth’s supply of it, and there would be nothing left over for email scammers, dinner-hour telemarketers, or the evangelists of wind and solar energy.
I don’t mean merely the ability to tell untruths. It’s one thing for a leftist politician to declare, with earnest indignation, straight face, and lower lip all a-quiver, that “I didn’t have sex with that woman”; or, “You can keep your doctor and you can keep your plan”; or, “The border is secure”; or, “Vaccines are safe and effective”; or, “What emails?” (Hillary, the Bidens, choose your liar); or, “I’m a Catholic” (Pelosi, Trudeau, Biden, choose your liar); or, “______ is Russian disinformation” (fill in the blank); or, every single word, syllable, and letter, including “the”, “a”, and “uh”, that Justin Trudeau has ever uttered about the Truckers. Those are the kind of stretchers that leftist politicians master in the cradle, long before, that is, they learn to coo “Birthing Person”, or to sing the lyrics of that old progressive nursery rhyme, “LGBT, EFG, Now I know my ABC’s”. (Which leads me to remind the LGBTQIA2S+ community that, unlike lying, the alphabet is an unrenewable resource. Save the Alphabet!)
No. I mean the ability to turn truth, reality, and the whole moral order completely upside down — while accusing your political opponent of turning truth, reality, and the whole moral order completely upside down. As in calling the riots in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, etc., “peaceful protests” (with the live video images of Dante’s inferno visible over the reporter’s shoulder) but January 6 a “violent insurrection”. As in befouling Republicans as “election deniers”, after Democrats spent three years rending the national garment over the illegitimacy of Trump’s 2016 election, by reason of “Russian collusion”. As in siccing a supposedly independent DOJ and FBI on ideological nonconformists, arresting them in swat-team dawn raids, intimidating, harassing, and censoring the political opposition, threatening to assassinate Supreme Court justices, dumping fraudulent, third-party-harvested ballots at polling stations in the post-election dark of night, and then demonizing the entire non-progressive population as a “threat to democracy”. Now that’s the kind of psychological projection and hypocritical sanctimony that would turn Moliere’s Tartuffe green with envy.
The progressive Left is to be congratulated on having achieved huge advances on the incipient twentieth-century totalitarian project of making words mean their precise opposites. That the old Soviet “Dictatorship is Democracy” con has been successfully pulled again by the Democrat Party is clear from the above, if not from their serious consideration of the idea of establishing a “Board of Misinformation and Disinformation”, for which Orwell’s literary estate might have sued the pants off them for copyright infringement. But the Left keeps coming up with new and more audacious Orwellisms that the old-school communist ministers of propaganda would have rejected as too incredible to be credited, and way too radical for their own relatively bourgeois moral and social sensibilities.
The sheer effrontery of classifying under the rubric of “reproductive health” a procedure whose purpose is to render morbid the natural human reproductive process is frankly awe-inspiring (in the way that circus contortionists are awe-inspiring). As I have said elsewhere, abortion is to reproductive health more or less as decapitation is to mental health. “Reproductive health” is decidedly unhealthy for those currently being reproduced. They’d be far healthier, in fact, if they lounged around the womb in their pajamas playing video games, gorging on nothing but Big Macs and Twinkies, smoking weed, and gulping Slurpees by the gallon (something like the way John Fetterman seems to have spent his formative years).
No one should be surprised that euthanasia is at present being analogously euphemized as “safety in dying” and “end of life care”, though its decidedly careless purpose is to bring about the end of life now, even if the victim is still at the beginning or in the middle of it. The whole point of safety is warding off the D-word. Seat belts, condoms, and whole-body armour for tykes are talismans patronizingly merchandised on the premise that they will delay the “end of life” and keep us out of the reach of the Grim Reaper’s scythe for as long as possible. “Stay safe” is the virtue-signalling valediction of every pan(ic)demic idiot who, fearing death by sniffles, is quadruple-vaxxed and wears a mask under a plexiglass visor while driving seul in his car. The Neoplatonic deity Hermes psychopompos (also god of medicine, as it happens), shepherding souls just released from the body into an uncharted afterworld, provides “safety in dying” and “end of life care”, not a physician who injects his patients with lethal poisons.
But no group is better at turning everything upside down and ass-backwards — sorry — than the Gay Lobby. The legislation proscribing criticism of same-sex “marriage” as illegal (which was just passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate with the complicity of 12 Republicans, having been passed in the House with the complicity of 47 Republicans; do Democrats ever cross the aisle?) is denominated — wait for it — the “Respect for Marriage Act”. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for respecting marriage as mankind has known it for, oh, two hundred millennia until fifteen years ago; but to call legislation that sentences to arrest, fine, and imprisonment anyone who dares to respect and defend it the “Respect for Marriage Act” is one oxymoron too far.
Even as the progressive vanguard comprehensively superannuates the moral norms and institutions of Western civilization, it remains far too reactionary not to pay linguistic tribute to them. If I were an honest moral Jacobin, I’d have much more respect for the “Respect for Marriage Act” if it were named, say, the Respect for Sodomy Act. Meanwhile, I can think of any number of federal enactments that would make my own and every husband’s aberrant fantasies a whole lot easier to explain to his wife: a “Respect for Chastity Act” to cover the Islamist’s dream of being attended by 72 virgins in the afterworld; a “Respect for Inspiration and Spiritual Enlightenment Act” to rationalize my own deeply felt need for a private 10,000 square foot mahogany-panelled bunker stocked with the finest single malts and Honduran Churchills. (But then no one in government has ever worried very much about affirming the alternative lifestyles of conservatives.)
And affirming the indefensible is always what it is about. How do you sell child genital mutilation to the folk? Don’t tell me that the ancient priests of Baal and Moloch had an easy time of it, especially when the sacred victims were the children of their own adult congregants. And yet to the woke parishioners who belong to the New Amalekite Church of Progress, bringing their own children to the altar is an act of piety. Indeed, their child’s “transitioning” makes them proud, as Christian parents are proud whenever a new-born is baptismally transitioned unto new life. In the Church of Progress, transgenderism and abortion are the two highest sacraments, the rough analogues of baptism and the eucharist in Christianity.
To the unindoctrinated, it is obvious that all the linguistic inversions of the progressive Left are designed to make what has always struck sane people as repellent and grotesque seem and sound normal, wholesome, and uplifting, and therefore something to be “proud” of. Hence we are now compelled by law to “affirm gender”.
An ordinary person would assume that to “affirm gender” signifies a citizen’s obligation to state clearly and truthfully what a person’s gender is: “Well, your honour, I can affirm that, having seen the prodigious evidence in our junior high school locker room, my old friend Fred is a male.” But it currently means the opposite. It means to support Fred’s belated fancy to deny what his team-mates have seen in the locker room, and either to have all the prodigious evidence thereof removed at the taxpayer’s expense, or else to keep it whilst still allowing Fred to compete in the Waukesha Wisconsin Women’s Weight-Lifting Final, or the Miss Greater Derry New Hampshire Beauty Contest — and win (no kidding; read the good news here). To “affirm gender” means to disaffirm gender.
This isn’t a particularly novel problem, of course. In the antediluvian era (about ten years ago, before cutting off your membra virilia or undergoing a needless double mastectomy were considered gender-affirming), when asylum inmates insisted that they were chickens, their doctors and orderlies went along with their psychotic “affirmations”, mainly in order not to get pecked. But in doing so it never occurred to them that they were ratifying or encouraging their patients’ delusions; that they were being “species-affirming”.
In one of his innumerable recent social media interviews pushing “trans rights”, Joe Biden, Affirmer-in-Chief (and always tone-deaf to irony), lamented the lifelong emotional and psychological “scars” that would be suffered by children condemned to persevere in their birth bodies. As another famous occupant of the Oval Office might have put it, we feel their pain. But seriously, Joe, have you ever seen the scars that castration and mastectomy leave behind?
Today, of course, you can go to jail if you do not affirm a sexually-dysphoric child’s fantasy to hormonally and surgically disaffirm his biological gender. Any counsel offered, by priest, physician, psychiatrist, or even a prepubescent child’s own parent, that does not actively “affirm” his or her velleity to undergo a regime of puberty-blocking hormones and genital-mutilating surgeries is deemed cruel, detrimental to the child’s mental health, grounds for the invocation of “child welfare” services, and a criminal offense under federal legislation that calls the forbidden practice “conversion therapy”. If a parent, that is, tries to protect his own offspring from the most gruesome sort of child abuse — the kind that no enterprising videographer would dare to publish on the dark web –, the progressive State treats him as a child abuser.
Once again, the sheer hermeneutical gall (or genius) of progressives is to be wondered at. “Conversion therapy” is a swell conceit. The word “conversion” is deliberately intended to evoke the archaic phenomenology of religion. Not the crazed religious ecstasy of the aforementioned parishioners of the Amalekite Church of Progress who sacrifice the sexual members of their children on the bloodstained altar of a woke Demiurge (though it’s too bad that William James did not live long enough to write about that in The Varieties of Religious Experience.) Rather, “conversion”, as in “conversion therapy”, is intended to remind us of the sins of religion as they are endlessly enumerated and lovingly described by such as the New Atheists.
By some strange coincidence, the sins of religion always boil down to the sins of Christianity, and so “conversion therapy” conjures memories of the conversion of Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages, or of the happy indigenous of the New World, by fanatical Christian heresiologists and missionaries. Needless to say, in the New Atheist History of the World, all conversions to Christianity are by definition forced, manipulated, and accordingly, insincere; and so too must any attempt by psychotherapists or parents to rescue immature and pre-rational tweens from permanently disfiguring themselves, physically and emotionally, be denounced as the equivalents of a sinister medieval proselytism.
It goes without saying that the word “conversion” in the progressive lexicon is, in any case, another reeking Orwellism. One doesn’t need to be a Latinist to know that the verb vertere, from which the English noun “conversion” is derived, means “to turn”, that is, to face in a new direction, to abandon the old path and embark on a novel one. Conversio is thus the prelude to transitio, and therefore a pretty good description of the decision of the gender-dysphoric to, in St. Paul’s phrase, “put off the old man”, that is, renounce the old biological body in which we were born. (O the ironies of propaganda!) And so, to denominate as conversion therapy the admonition to the gender-confused to remain content with the status quo of their native anatomy is to call it by a name that, in the non-Orwellian order, applies more or less perfectly to the progressive priesthood’s ubiquitous proselytism of the vita nuova of sexual transmutation into the opposite gender. Conversion therapy is precisely what the progressive State is guilty of.
How do progressives get away with it? No one knows. P.T. Barnum’s observation about another sucker being born every minute doesn’t quite cut it. Chesterton’s famous broadside, that modern secularists who stubbornly refuse to believe in something will believe in anything, is better. The Christian teaching that the Devil is the Father of Lies (and that he is alive and well and everywhere) is better still. But since we are dealing with collective psychosis, perhaps we should consult a psychiatrist:
Everywhere in the West there are subversive minorities [that would be progressives] who, sheltered by our humanitarianism and our sense of justice, hold the incendiary torches ready, with nothing to stop the spread of their ideas except the critical reason of a single, fairly intelligent, mentally stable stratum of the population [that would be us]. One should not, however, overestimate the thickness of this stratum….Rational argument can be conducted with some prospect of success only so long as the emotionality of a given situation does not exceed a certain critical degree. If the affective temperature rises above this level, the possibility of reason’s having any effect ceases and its place is taken by slogans and chimerical wish-fantasies. That is to say, a sort of collective possession results which develops into a psychic epidemic. In this state all those elements whose existence is merely tolerated as asocial under the rule of reason come to the top…In a state of “collective possession”, they [the psychotically insane] are the adapted ones and consequently feel quite at home in it. They know from their own experience the language of these conditions and they know how to use it. Their chimerical ideas…appeal to the collective irrationality and find fruitful soil there.
—–C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self
While Jung’s analysis was brilliant and prophetic, it would come up short as a description of the leftist world order, version 2022. Jung was writing in 1957 and basing his diagnosis of mass psychosis and its chimerical wish-fantasies on the example of the utopian Marxism of the Soviet Union, in which homosexual “marriage”, “self-identified non-binary gender”, sex-reassignment surgery, and critical race theory remained as yet unthinkable, and the voluntary propagandization of such unthinkable dogmas by a free press and a decentralized school system autonomous of Party control remained as yet (to repeat Jung’s phrase) chimerical wish-fantasies.