The recent exchange between Professor Khiara Bridges and Senator Josh Hawley provides an important lesson about the state of America’s most important institutions. Bridges, who teaches at the University of California's Berkeley School of Law, was invited to testify at hearing on abortion access. Hawley asked her whether her repeated use of the phrase “person with the capacity for pregnancy” was her way of saying “woman.”
Over the next minute, she claimed “trans men” and “non-binary” people are also capable of pregnancy, stated Hawley’s line of questioning was “transphobic,” and claimed his refusal to affirm the idea of male pregnancy was tied to the suicide rates among trans people. The media outlets that hailed Bridges for “owning” Senator Hawley make our current state of affairs even clearer.
America’s most important institutions have lost public trust because of the corruption, incompetence, and political ideology of the people leading them.
We live at a point in human history when the most wealthy, educated, and powerful people in the country will not acknowledge the most basic truths about men and women. Their attempts to redefine reality cannot build or preserve anything. Destruction, both literally and figuratively, follows them like a shadow.
Attempts to rationalize the sudden acceptance of “pregnant men” and “women with penises” have two certain outcomes: brain rot from the inability to think logically and spiritual demoralization from the unwillingness to speak truthfully. Neither one is healthy for the future of the republic.
Smugness and self-importance aside, the power the ruling class exerts over our lives makes these changes even harder to accept.
In 2021, Americans were told that COVID vaccines would prevent infection and transmission. This claim was repeated by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, as well as Bill Gates and President Biden. They were obviously wrong.
Leaders with humility and wisdom would admit their error and chart a new course. The people who run our institutions did the opposite. Over the next year, Merriam-Webster changed the definition of “vaccine,” people were fired for disobeying mandates, and the media attempted to silence dissenters.
My trust in our national COVID response was shaken much earlier. On June 5, 2020, more than 1,000 public health professionals signed an open letter arguing that large protests against racial injustice should be allowed, even as some people still couldn’t leave home to work.
The letter stated, “White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.” The signatories clearly understood COVID’s political leanings, because they later clarified that their letter should not be taken as an approval of all protests, particularly ones against stay-home orders.
Their message was clear: Visiting your family may prove deadly, but having 10,000 people crammed cheek by jowl into the town square is fine if they have the right political views.
If the public health establishment was COVID’s biggest loser in public trust, the public education system took the silver medal. One year of unions fighting to keep schools closed and parents seeing what their children were being taught did more to advance school choice than decades of conservative political rhetoric.
Likewise, police abolitionists wish they could be as effective at undermining conservative confidence in law enforcement as images of an Ohio mom being tased and handcuffed at an outdoor football game and a New York City man being assaulted by police officers for violating social distancing rules. The videos of police inaction in Uvalde have only compounded the damage COVID did to the public image of police.
The leaders of our institutions have a vested interest in slowing – and reversing – their decline. In the near future, saying that you graduated from Harvard or Stanford won’t confer any prestige. It will be an indication that you’re a sucker who could have paid half the price to a state university if your goal was to “learn” that men can get pregnant.
Professor Bridges has an impressive set of credentials, but her attempts at linguistic and emotional manipulation during her congressional testimony were a lesson in trans activism 101. Any institution that lends its reputation, whether through credentialing or employment, is implicated in her attempts to frame biological truth as an existential harm to trans people.
The truth is that higher rates of suicide, anxiety, and depression should be expected among people whose minds are in conflict with their bodies. Civil wars – whether within the body politic or the human body – always have casualties. The mental health concerns associated with transgenderism are caused by a denial of reality, not insufficient affirmation. It is neither loving nor kind to encourage a person to live by lies.
External attacks often strengthen institutional resolve. Internal arguments are rendered insignificant in the face of an advancing enemy. Survival always trumps unanimity. Conversely, no amount of external whitewashing and advocacy can prop up an institution that is dead on the inside. No amount of browbeating can convince people that up is down or 2+2 = 5. They may mimic the right words, but that does not mean they believe the lies.
College professors, elected officials, CEOs, journalists, and activists assume their advanced degrees, hefty salaries, and political power are enough to justify the trust we place in their words. They are clearly mistaken. They blame the public for being insufficiently compliant, but their criticism is being aimed in the wrong direction. This problem won’t be solved by putting us under a microscope. If correction is what they seek, it is time they look in the mirror.