The Left's War on Science and Sanity
A few months back, I began a piece by referring to the Left as "ever more unmoored from reality and hoisted on the petard of its own internal contradictions." In the piece itself, I focused on a few small- bore items that might have escaped the attention of Mishpacha readers and passed on the really obvious examples.
That same week, a poll showed Democrats nearly evenly split between socialism (democratic, of course) and capitalism as the preferred economic system for the United States, even as the water taps were turned off in Venezuela and the populace reduced to boiling and drinking sewer water. Last week, former Colorado governor and current presidential aspirant John Hinkenlooper was booed lustily at the Californian Democratic Party State Organizing Convention when he said, "If we want to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 . . . , socialism is not the answer."
But for overall looniness, nothing can beat the push to allow "transitioning" males to compete in sports as women on the basis of their gender identification at the time. The ideological claim that gender is only a "social construct" – i.e., you can be whatever you want to be – is now being treated as fact.
The International Olympic Committee is now preparing for a 2020 Olympic Games, in which biological males will be able to compete as females as long as they have lowered their testosterone levels below a designated level. I'm old enough to remember the Press sisters, who won numerous Olympic gold medals for the USSR, being derided as the "Press brothers." They both retired when on-the-spot gender testing was instituted. Today they would not have to bother, as long as they "identified" as women. Similarly, And East Germany would not have had to go to the trouble of doping its women swimmers and masking that doping. Much simpler to just to put together a team of biological males who identify for the Olympics as female.
"Gender-identity" activists accuse those, like former tennis great Martina Navratilova, who express concerns about about men self-identifying as women and unfairly dominating women's sports of perpetuating dangerous myths and being "trans-phobic," as if there were no reason for concern.
Really? In 1988, Florence Griffith-Joyner ran set a women's world record in the 100-meter dash that still stands of 10.49 seconds. Last year alone, over 2,000 males worldwide ran that fast.
The reasons that men's performance standards are so much higher has little to do with just being bigger, or even with higher levels of testosterone alone, and much to do with morphology, even controlling for weight and height. Among the advantages of males, on average: broader shoulders, greater volume of circulating blood, greater resistance to dehydration, more hemoglobin, greater upper body strength, greater bone density, higher systolic blood pressure, larger hearts, higher ratio of muscle-to-fat, and larger sweat capacity.
Simple commonsense -- that men and women should compete in sports separately – no longer carries the day. For decades, feminists have successfully campaigned under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which mandates for equal funding of women's collegiate sports, to greatly increase the number of women participating in intercollegiate sports. Now, the progressive Left, by elevating a new "identity" – "trans" – to the top of the identity totem pole, threatens to undermine all the advances in women's sports. Good male athletes who could never be world record holders, like Rachel McKinnon -- who recently won a world women's cycling title, and then led a cyber-bullying campaign against the third place woman who proclaimed his victory "not fair" -- can simply "identify" as a woman for as long as they wish to compete. And then they can return, as Navratilova pointed out, to identifying with their original biological category.
In the meantime, they are free gobble up college athletic scholarships that would otherwise go to for females and dominate in competitions against biological women who stand have no chance. Another progressive revolution that eats its own.
Groups like the ACLU proclaim that there is no harm to women from allowing men who identify as women to mingle freely among women. Tell that to the numerous women and girls assaulted in women's shelters by Christopher Hambrook, who identifies as female. Or those assaulted in a women's prison by Karen White, also a biological male. Or Tamika Brents, a woman who suffered a broken skull in a combat sports contest against a biological male.
A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD for women athletes may not be the most important item on the agenda of most Torah Jews. But collective insanity and the power of progressive fads to sweep all before them should be. The Democratic-controlled House just passed the so-called "Equality Act," which would make "gender-identity" a protected category. Not a single Democrat voted "no." And the bill would almost certainly become law were the Democrats to take the Senate and hold the House in 2020.
Professor Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia Law School, universally regarded as one of United States' leading scholars of the religion clauses of the Constitution, spoke with National Review's John McCormack about the bill. Laycock is that rare bird who both supports single-gender marriage and the right of the baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, not to bake cakes celebrating such marriages. The Equality Act, he opined, would "probably" open all women's sports competition, locker rooms, and bathrooms to biological males who identify as women. But it would do much, much more than that.
The Act, Laycock opined, makes no effort to balance and reconcile non-discrimination with religious claims. Rather it seeks to "crush" religious conscientious objectors. It explicitly negates any defenses under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and heavily regulates religious non-profits, including religious schools.
True, the Act cannot take away defenses based on the Constitution: the "ministerial exemption," for instance, would still prevent schools being told whom they must hire to teach religious subjects. But it likely would not be extended to those hired to teach secular subjects.
Laycock terms the types of constitutionally-based defenses that religious schools and organizations might interpose to be at present "undeveloped" and uncertain of success, and acknowledges the possibility that religious schools could be ordered to teach a curriculum at loggerheads with traditional religious morality, as the British government seeks to do today.
At the very least, the Act, Rabbi Yaakov Menken, the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, the Act notes, "sends the message that the traditional religious understanding of marriage and gender is 'bigoted' – even illegal if acted upon."
Lieberman, Charedim, and the Draft
For the past five years or so, the chareidi community has not been at the center of the political debate in Israel. It now appears that respite is over thanks to Avigdor Lieberman, whose upcoming campaign will center on his refusal to give in to the chareidim on the draft issue.
The declining fortunes of Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party made clear to him that there is no future for a Russian immigrant party. The longer the immigrants are in Israel the less they identify as immigrants, and their children see themselves as full Israelis. He also picked up on something I warned of years ago: The broad consensus on security issues – there is little no daylight between Blue and White and Likud on security issues – opens the way for a realignment of Israeli politics in which the chareidi parties no longer hold the balance of power.
And that would certainly be the case if Prime Minister Netanyahu were to exit the scene. As long as he is fighting for his political life, he has to hold the chareidi parties close.
Lieberman took the risk that by dooming efforts to form a right-wing government with Netanyahu at the help that he would will lose the support of his strongly right-wing immigrant base. But he decided that the risk was worth it. He knew from past experience that the Defense Ministry would not propel him any higher up the Israeli political ladder. And he chose to get out in front on what he perceives to be an issue around which political realignment might take place: the chareidi draft.
Let us pray that Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., did not serve as a harbinger of things to come when he proclaimed in the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Knesset, "Now the major issue is not the threat to Israelis' lives but the threat to their way of life from the chareidim."