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Squires: America needs healing from ‘Gates disorder’ and a return to responsibility

Op-ed
IvelinRadkov/Getty Images

Here’s the most important lesson I learned in 2021: Our most important institutions reach for things they can control when they have proven themselves unable to manage their primary duties.

This phenomenon is what I call Gates disorder, because it involves institutions that simultaneously abrogate their responsibilities and arrogate to themselves powers that are outside their expertise and authority. The relationship between the two “gates” is direct. The more institutions fail at their core duties, the more eager they are to seek duties outside their purview. This logical paradox is destroying the credibility of our most important political and cultural institutions.

This two-part process can be motivated by a number of factors, including a combination of ineffectiveness, incompetence, cowardice, prioritizing symbolism over substance, and the twin desires to appear righteous and remain relevant. At its root, however, Gates disorder is about power and control. This is why people and institutions with a god complex are particularly susceptible to it and exhibit its most severe symptoms.

The response to COVID-19 over the last two years from our governing authorities is a textbook example of Gates disorder. President Biden pledged to “defeat” the coronavirus after criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic in 2020. The fact that more Americans died from COVID-19 in 2021 than 2020 demonstrates a failure to deliver on that promise.

The federal response over the latter part of 2021 was to work with corporations, school districts, and the media to enact mask and vaccine mandates, fire workers who resisted medical coercion, and silence anyone who questioned the administration’s COVID policies. Gates disorder made the president pivot from trying to control a respiratory virus to trying to control American citizens.

Local leaders in some of our biggest cities are no different. Bill de Blasio, former mayor of New York City, embraced activist demands to defund the police in 2020 as shootings and homicides increased significantly. He responded to his crime prevention failures by shifting to something he could control – vaccine mandates for New Yorkers and vaccine passport enforcement by the NYPD.

He is not alone. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is doing the same thing in Chicago. The black citizens who make up the majority of homicide victims in both cities want mayors who use the police to prevent them from getting shot. What they’ve gotten instead are elected officials who shout “black lives matter!” then force them to get a shot half of them don’t want. And the police who were called racist while solving black homicides and saving black lives are now on the front lines keeping black patrons from eating in restaurants.

Recent history shows that Gates disorder is just as prevalent in American cultural institutions as it is in our politics.

Female athletes, parents, and elected officials across the country are voicing concerns about biological males being allowed to compete in girls’ sports. The New York Post has dedicated multiple stories to Lia Thomas, the transgender Penn swimmer who competed as a male for three years and is now dominating the competition since being allowed to compete against his female peers.

For some reason ESPN, the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader in sports,” has been conspicuously silent about Thomas or the broader debate about transgender athletes and sports. The same can be said for sites like Deadspin and Bleacher Report. The sports media establishment and its leading personalities are derelict in their duties to report on major issues in sports. What they’ve done instead is take on the mantle of social justice by focusing on issues that have nothing to do with sports.

ESPN used its airtime to solicit opinions on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial from hosts, analysts, and former athletes. Many of these opinions were completely detached from the facts of the case, but perfectly aligned with the narrative – white supremacist teen murdered three racial justice activists – being spun on CNN and MSNBC.

Sports networks sit silently while men dominate women in athletic competition. They only find the courage to speak when their social commentary conforms to what sponsors, activists, and the Democratic Party want to hear. They abandon their core duties and take on responsibilities they are clearly unequipped to perform.

The country is in deep need of healing from Gates disorder. Left untreated, it will have a catastrophic impact on the next generation. Our political leaders are too busy trying to hold on to power to ask themselves about the effect of schools that abandon their responsibility to teach children how to read, write, and count for ideological programming on race, gender, and sexuality. I feel sorry for the children whose most enduring grammar lesson after 13 years of compulsory education is how to state their personal pronouns.

The politicians, CEOs, academics, media personalities, entertainers, athletes, and influencers who compose the ruling class have been afflicted with Gates disorder for decades. They have expanded in size and influence while individuals, families, and civic institutions have been shrinking and losing significance.

The only way out of this outbreak is for both groups to return to a rightful understanding of authority and responsibility. The Bible describes Christians as a body with many parts. The church can only survive if each part contributes to the health of the body by understanding, valuing, and fulfilling its unique role. The body politic is no different. Politicians, journalists, teachers, and parents all have different roles to play. Our society suffers when any one of those entities neglects its responsibilities for those that belong to another. We need to cure the Gates disorder before some of our essential cultural organs shrivel up and wither away.
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