Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Eradication Of An “Ism”

The creeping illiberalism of the anti-woke right.

Michael Knowles appears as a guest on “Candace” hosted by Candace Owens in January 2022 (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

In a sign of growing extremism and illiberalism on the anti-woke right, the Daily Wire writer, Michael Knowles, gave a stem-winder of a speech at what’s left of CPAC. He pronounced:

There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing. If transgenderism is true — if men really can become women — then it’s true for everybody of all ages. If transgenderism is false — as it is — if men really can’t become women — as they cannot — then it’s false for everybody too.

And if it’s false, then we should not indulge it. Especially since that indulgence requires taking away the rights and customs of so many people. If it is false, then for the good of society, and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely — the whole preposterous ideology at every level.

The speech swiftly drew a rebuke that this was classic eliminationist rhetoric — code for eradicating transgender people from public life. Knowles demanded a correction from some outlets that implied as such (and got some). And I suppose he has a smidgen of a semantic point. But come on. If he said we need to eradicate homosexuality or Judaism from public life, we’d know what he meant.

In this case, “eradicating” an idea would just happen to end all sex-change operations, abolish legal and constitutional protections for transgender men and women, and remove recognition of their dignity and humanity in public life. It’s repellent and stupid. Humans can invent any number of ideas about reality. But there always have been and always will be a small group of human beings whose bodies and genders are not aligned. They are as vital and as wondrous a part of God’s creation as anyone else.

In general, it’s a very good rule to ignore anyone who says there is no middle way on a contentious question. That goes for Ibram X Kendi as well as Knowles. If their first instinct is to reject complexity, they’re not actually interested in humanity as it is. Christina Buttons, who covered gender pediatrics for the Daily Wire until Knowles’ speech, gets it right:


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