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Sometimes you come across an op-ed so R-slurred you know it had to have been written by an Ivy League graduate. Only a group of elites so thoroughly out of touch with their fellow man could conceive the horrors they conjure in their Brooklyn lofts. It’s usually better to ignore said drivel, but occasionally it’s helpful to investigate what it says about the culture.
We come to one Leo Kim (he/him), who recently wrote an article for Wired titled, “Preferring Biological Children Is Immoral.” I love purposefully provocative writers who push the bounds of polite discourse to make a point. Alas, Kim lacks the verbal repertoire to rise above the profundity of stale water. His writing is usually of the variety pointing out that Big Tech companies use nature terms like “the cloud” to seem less threatening and friendly to their audience. Hard-hitting stuff indeed. So the reader must assume he actually believes what he’s saying.
“For most of Western history, it was a given that a parent would want their children to be their direct progeny. ... Yet this prioritization of biological inheritance (“biologism,” as some call it) has recently become unsettled.”
One might ponder what someone with a master’s degree in something called film aesthetics knows about genetics, but unfortunately, the readers of Wired are left hanging. This sounds like a person who thinks listening to NPR and getting Tibetan takeout makes him cosmopolitan, when in fact he's never traveled besides study abroad. I can assure Kim that when traveling around South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, the people I encountered seemed very much interested in having biological children.
What we find is that, when contextualized amongst our other modern ethical norms, this preference can feel downright ancient — a vestigial remnant of a different epoch, a fossil no longer animated by the same moral intuitions that gave it gravity in the past.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the desire to procreate and build families is some horrid impulse from the past. Note the word ancient as a pejorative. Those philosophers and builders from the ancient world wanted offspring. Ick.
Fortunately, Kim explains that what is natural will change with gestational surrogacy or even womb transplants for transsexuals. Why not, when you can rent the womb of a no doubt less affluent woman or have a surgeon splice a uterus onto a biological male — anything is possible. You will live to see man-made horrors beyond your comprehension.
Genetic provenance has long been used as a tool to construct and uphold white hegemony; think of the legacy of the “one drop rule” that erected whiteness around a logic of ancestral purity. The desire for biological ties, in many ways, can easily legitimize a racially inflected obsession with genetic history.
The next time an expecting couple wonders if the baby will look more like the mother or the father, remember they are committing racism. It would be fascinating to travel with Kim to Lebanon or Kenya and have him explain his theories to the locals. What’s that, Ahmad? You want to have biological children? Well, let me elucidate how that makes you a white supremacist. Unfortunately, he probably doesn’t have time to travel, as the brand manager of an app called Block Renovation, which connects contractors with customers who, I guess, have never heard of Google. The hustle never sleeps.
Wired was once a great publication, and it broke some essential stories. The design aesthetics of the print magazine remain some of the best ever. However, this anti-family intellectual rot seems to spread everywhere, resulting in inane screeds by people who should know better. If one throws out biology when it comes to gender, why not dispense with the rest? If some nerd says you’re immoral for wanting children, who are you to disagree? Did you study philosophy at Yale?
Most indigenous and shamanic cultures have a beautiful tradition of calling on the spirits of their ancestors. They invoke these spirits to bring health, wisdom, or a bountiful hunt or harvest. Whether you believe in spirits or not, your genes come from a long line of survivors who overcame unspeakable horrors, felt euphoric joys, and followed the first commandment of humanity: procreation. All those countless generations lost to the sands of time to arrive in you.
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Managing Editor, Return
Peter Gietl is the managing editor for Return.