A libertarian friend comments. He has a gay son who has become a social justice warrior. Whereas I would not mind if my kid or kids were gay beyond being a little disappointed in less chances of having genetic grandchildren and more difficulty maintaining and passing down Judaism, if any of my kids turn into SJWs it would deeply trouble me. Let’s just leave it at that. I feel my friend’s pain and hope his son gets out of it somehow.
Your post really hit home today. I said almost the same exact words the day after the election. The crying and wailing and cheering is mystifying to me. I can ignore most of it, as I was not invested in this election at all. For the first time in my adult life, I did not cast a vote. The candidates were just too…too, you know…awful. As the election got closer, I waivered and thought that maybe I needed to cast a vote against Hillary, but that is not how voting works. The receiver of the vote does not say “oh, I know you voted for me because I’m not quite as disgusting as my opponent, so I am grateful and honored by your trust in me and I’ll be sure to pay attention to your concerns when I take office.” No, what the winner is really thinking is “they love me! They liked everything I represent! I have a mandate to do exactly what I want to do!” So I didn’t vote. Trump already thinks too highly of himself, and he was going to either win or lose without my one stinking little vote anyway.
Then my son made a very puzzling post on Facebook.
My son is 25 and still in college. He used to have a strong libertarian streak by hanging around with me, but we’ve lived apart for the past 5 years and he’s come under the influence of his boyfriend (yes, he’s gay) and the faculty and other students at the community college and the art school he has been attending. The art school and the SJW’s have really gotten to him. His world view and his language have changed so much that I often find it difficult to follow his train of thought. Discussing or arguing with him is a mind bender, as we often cannot come to agreement on simple facts. For example, women make $.79 for every $1 a man makes. An old fallacy, to be sure, but utterly beyond his ability to question. I think because he can’t believe that every teacher and feminist around him is wrong if they all repeat the same statistic so often. To him, repetition must make it true. The theory of the ‘big lie’ has been tested and found true in my son. Add to that the modern lexicon of the SJW, like ‘feminist’ (it doesn’t mean what it used to), ‘micro-aggressions’, ‘cultural appropriation’, and I think you can sense my bewilderment.
I came home from work on Wednesday to find my wife nearly in tears. Our son had written a ‘beautiful’ piece about the trauma of seeing Trump elected and knowing that he and his ‘community’ will be marginalized and oppressed for the next four years, or longer. But he will pull himself together and continue to fight for the causes of the LGBTQ community, and they will overcome the rampant homophobia that Trump will unleash. Then he wrote a very confusing passage in which he described himself as a ‘white passing’ ‘gender fluid’ gay person who will not let his beautiful life be ruined by the white majority (I’m working from memory here, but I think that is an accurate rendition.) “White passing”? I had to look it up just to make sure I understood him correctly. It appears that he rejects the fact he comes from Northern European stock, with about 1/64th Chippewa added in as a result of the French side of the family producing some ‘half breeds’ a couple of hundred years ago. I’m projecting when I say he must be embracing his Native American roots, because that’s the only non-white thing in him. (When I’m confronted by people playing the race card, I sometimes trump them with my Native American card, even though I find my genetic background nothing more than an historical curiosity. Works every time.) I checked out some websites that purport to help people with racial identity problems, and I see that the current rage is to refer to yourself as the race with which you identify. regardless of genetics. I really don’t know what he calls himself. Holiday conversation should be….(interesting, frustrating, maddening, hillarious….take your pick). By the way, I didn’t find the Facebook post to be ‘beautiful’ in the same way his mother and his gay friends did. I found it to be a word salad dressed with youthful angst.
I tried to bring some reality into my wife’s over-the-top concern for our son’s safety. There is no great anti-gay constituency out there. Straight people I know do not plot attacks on gays. Actually, they really don’t think about gays much at all. It’s just not that important. Live and let live. Today, my wife brought to my attention the story of a gay guy getting beat up by a couple of Trump supporters on election night. I researched it and found it lacking specificity, despite lurid details and a gruesome photo. then a follow up article retracted the ‘Trump supporter’ angle, and then another article noted that the victim could not be contacted for verification. Most likely a hoax…this time. But that is the kind of crap that gets people fantasizing about dangers that don’t exist, and acting out aggressively in response. The anti-Trump riots are very real and could be dangerous. My company canceled a business trip to NYC for Tuesday and Wednesday out of concern for our safety. Good call. This violent reaction is likely to be sparked by irrational fears and fueled by hoaxes.
Like you, I used to have an ‘inner homophobe’ that shuddered a little when I saw gay PDA. I haven’t seen it in my daily life for five years, so I’m not sure I still have it. The thought of gay sex doesn’t do anything for me one way or the other. Maybe I’m numb. Maybe I’ve evolved.
As for reading Atlas Shrugged, that was my early 2016 project. I had read it in my teens, 20’s, and 30’s, so it’s not so much that I wanted to know the story but that I wanted to revisit that book to see if it still held up twenty years after the last reading. Frankly, I expected to be disappointed in the artistry. Rand has been so derided as a clunky hack writer that I accepted she was best off writing non-fiction instead of fiction. Maybe, I thought, I really SHOULD be embarrassed to say I liked it, especially because I have a degree in literature.
On the contrary. It is beautiful. I was moved to tears at certain points, especially during Reardon’s thought-soliloquies. I could FEEL his pain. Her other characters also came alive for me in ways that I had not experienced in the past. I noted the compassion and humanity that she allowed her “cold and rational” characters to feel and demonstrate. It was a cornucopia of nuanced drama, with concern and charity demonstrated throughout. Her detractors have terribly mis-characterized this book, probably because the philosophical themes force the average person to think about their convictions in an uncomfortable way. It is easier and more effective to derisively dismiss than to honestly confront.
On the other hand, I could, and did, quibble with some word choices and some sentence structure. It was clear to me that she was not a native English speaker, as sometimes she used some odd phrases and unusual imagery. A good editor could have smoothed out the clunks, though Rand would have resisted, I’m sure.
As always, Rafi, you get my brain working and I feel compelled to jot down my 2 cents (it’s a half-a-buck now, with inflation). Sorry for the length. If you got this far, thanks for reading.