Post Roe v. Wade: The States Choose Death

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

What happened on Tuesday was not, by any measure, terribly shocking. The ambitious red wave was a much more realistic red ripple; Republicans will win the House while the Senate will likely be split; the narrow races are yet to be decided (this is apparently now the norm in American politics, vindicating an election prediction from 2020); and once again, the first Tuesday in November marked a slight shift, rather than an about-face, from the condition of electoral politics the year prior.

But while the electoral results will apparently take days—weeks, even, in the case of Georgia—there was one question on the ballot that has already been clearly decided. Abortion, and all its sundry offshoots, will retain protected status in the United States.

Five key ballot proposals on abortion were decided Tuesday night. California, Vermont, Montana, Kentucky, and Michigan all weighed in favor of fewer limits on abortion, with even red Kentucky knocking down a proposal to specify that the state constitution does not protect a right to abortion. Montana narrowly declined to recognize the rights, including the right to medical care, of a child born from a partial or botched abortion. Vermont’s Prop. 5 made it the first state in the Union to enshrine a fundamental right to an abortion in its state constitution, beating California only by a few hours. The constitution of the state of California, too, will now read that “the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom…which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion.” But Michigan’s proposal may just be the most extreme.

Proposal 3, as previously reported, goes beyond enshrining a right to abortion in the state constitution, though it certainly does that. In addition to establishing rights to all manner of “reproductive freedom,” including sterilization, the bill also does away with parental consent for minors in any such reproductive decisions. That opens the door to some very bleak possibilities, like the underage rape victim being coerced to abort her baby to provide cover for her abuser; or the teenaged, gender-confused girl being given hormone therapy behind her parents’ backs, at the permanent cost of her fertility. The proposal was passed by a margin of 13 percentage points at the time of this writing, and would require three-fourths of both chambers of the Michigan state legislature, which just flipped blue, to vote to overturn it. Or, of course, another ballot proposal. Or a federal abortion ban.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times published a piece describing the Michigan proposal and how it was shaping the gubernatorial contest between Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon. (I made a similar observation a few weeks back.) The Times opening interviewee, a woman whose yard was pockmarked with campaign signs for Republican names all the way down the ballot, told the reporter she would vote in favor of Prop. 3, despite her Republican bona fides, because “I’m my own person.”

Clearly, she was not alone. More people, about 100,000 more, voted for the losing Republican candidate, Dixon, than against the proposal. Even more telling were the results in Kentucky, which spans both the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt, and where the measure to restrict abortion failed by 6 percentage points. This is the same state that went for Trump by 62 percent to Biden’s 36 percent in 2020. In many ways, places like Kentucky are the heart of the new right and its voter base—they produced J.D. Vance, after all. But we should not misunderstand what this means.

As commentator Aaron Renn pointed out in his newsletter on Wednesday, the majority of the voting public seems to want abortion to be legal. This is especially true for working class Americans, who comprise a large swath of voters in both Michigan and Kentucky. I am not the first to point out, of course, how many of these blue collar Democrats now vote Republican—in part due to Trump, but also as a result of the leftward shift of the Democratic Party. The voters haven’t moved much, but the parties have.

That means Republicans who prioritize working class concerns are winning again (see: Vance), but it also means that the Evangelical vote, which has never been as significant as folks want to believe, is less relevant than ever. Many Evangelicals have gone left in recent decades, perceiving empathy in the progressive agenda. Those who have stuck with the right often tend to emphasize genuine, if secondary, political concerns (election fraud, Covid policies, critical race theory) over religious ones (the sanctity of life).

It used to be that you could not run in a red state without being loudly opposed to abortion, because they were so reliably pro-life. This is still true in some states, such as my home state of Tennessee. But for many of the winning Republicans on Tuesday, opposition to abortion was not the deciding factor. In some cases, it may even have been a hindrance. Meanwhile, the libertarian tendency of the working class voter led him to prefer fewer restrictions on abortion, purely for the sake of keeping the government out of as much of his personal life as possible—the state is for roads, healthcare, jobs, not morality.

Republicans have secured the working class vote, but it is not the culturally Christian one. The waning influence of the pro-life movement in the Republican party is evidence of this: success at the judicial level seems to have coincided rather ironically with the failure of the popular movement. This may be the fault of the movement’s organizers, or it may just be a reflection on much broader cultural changes in America, tectonic shifts that no organization could have reasonably stopped.

But the culture war without Christianity is a rudderless ship. The success of politicians like Ron DeSantis in Florida means little if in the same breath the American people have said they will abide infanticide, or would rather keep their options open than commit to protecting innocent lives. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to send the decision on life back to the states, and the states chose death.

*****
This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.

Hillsdale Imprimis: Education as a Battleground

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

The following is adapted from remarks delivered on November 3, 2022, at a Hillsdale College reception in Santa Clara, California.

If you want to see the problem with American education, look at a chart illustrating the comparative growth in the number of students, teachers, and district administrators in our public schools in the period between 2000 and 2019. The number of district administrators grew by a whopping 87.6 percent during these years, far outstripping the growth in the number of students (7.6 percent) and teachers (8.7 percent).

In illustrating the difference in these rates of growth, the chart also illustrates a fundamental change that has come over our nation as a whole during this period—a change in how we govern ourselves and how we live. To say a change is fundamental means that it concerns the foundation of things. If the foundation changes, then the things built on it are changed. Education is fundamental, and it has changed radically. This has changed everything else.

One way of describing the change in education today is that it provides a different answer than we have ever known to the question: who owns American children? Of course, no one actually owns the children. They are human beings, and insofar as they are owned, they own themselves. But by nature, they require a long time to grow up—much longer than most creatures—and someone must act on their behalf until they mature. Who is to do that?

Not many people raise this question explicitly, but implicitly it is everywhere. For example, it is contained in the question: who gets to decide what children learn? It is contained more catastrophically in the question: who decides what we tell children about sex?

Are these decisions the province of professional educators, who claim to be experts? Or are they the province of parents, who rely on common sense and love to guide them? In other words, is the title to govern children established by expertise or by nature as exhibited in parenthood? The first is available to a professionally educated few. The second is available to any human being who will take the trouble.

The natural answer to this question is contained in the way human beings come to be. Prior to recent scientific “advances,” every child has been the result of a natural process to which people have a natural attraction. “Natural” here does not mean what every single person wants or does—it means the way things work unless we humans intervene.

In its essence, “nature” means the process of begetting and growth by which a mature, living thing comes to be. Not quite every human being is attracted to the natural process of human reproduction, but nearly all are—and when the process works to produce a baby, it works that way and no other way.

This process of human reproduction and growth works for two reasons. The first is that human beings, when mature, are capable of so much more than other creatures. Almost from birth we learn to talk, a rational function that indicates decisive differences from other creatures. Because of reason and speech we are moral beings, capable of distinguishing among kinds of things and therefore of knowing and doing right and wrong. Also because of them we are social beings, able to understand and explain things to one another that other creatures do not understand and cannot discuss. This draws us closer together than even herd or swarm animals.

We are unique in possessing these capacities, and it is in this specific respect that our nation’s founders declared that “all men are created equal.” This equality has nothing to do with the color of anyone. Its source is the unique, immaterial, rational soul of the human being. One of my teachers used to respond to the claims of animal rights advocates that one must not be cruel to any creature, but that only those who can talk are entitled to vote.

The second reason in nature that makes human reproduction unique is our especially long period of maturation. For months, human babies are simply helpless; without constant attention they will starve. For years afterwards they must develop the skills and knowledge that are uniquely available to the human being. Both the skills and the knowledge are natural, meaning all human beings can obtain them, but both take time. Each child does the work of obtaining them, but each child needs help. Modern educators often mistake the work of helping them to learn for actually doing the learning for them. The second is impossible.

The skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic are direct exercises of the rational faculty. They are in principle the same thing as talking, and in principle every child will learn much of them unassisted. Just watch a child grow up to the age of two. He or she begins very early to respond to things with comprehension. Words soon follow. Children copy adults for the use of words, but they are doing all the work of learning. Little wonder that human beings take a long time to mature: they have so much to learn.

Raising a child has always been difficult and expensive. With rare exceptions, it has always been true that the parents who conceive the child raise him the best. And throughout American history, it has been thought that the family is the cradle of good citizenship and therefore of free and just politics. Public education is as old as our nation—but only lately has it adopted the purpose of supplanting the family and controlling parents.

***

The political successes of Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, Governor Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, and many other politicians in other states have largely been won on this battleground of education. One can look in history or in literature to see the danger of where the idea of supplanting the family might lead. Study the education practices that existed in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and that exist today in Communist China. Or read the terrifying account in Orwell’s 1984. They tell us that children, by distorting their natural desire to grow up and end their dependence, can be recruited to the purposes of despotic regimes, even to the extent of denouncing their parents to the state.

We do not yet have this in America. But we do have children being turned against their country by being indoctrinated to look on its past—of which all parents, of course, are in some way a part—as a shameful time of irredeemable injustice. We also increasingly have children being encouraged to speak of their sexual proclivities at an age when they can hardly think of them.

To cite just one example, Christopher Rufo has discovered, on the website of the Michigan Department of Education, detailed instructions for how teachers should open the question with students of their sexual orientation—or maybe I should say sexual direction, since “orientation” implies something constant, whereas children are now being taught that sexuality is “fluid” and can take them anywhere.

Also on the website are detailed instructions on how to keep this activity from the parents. And as we learned last year, when parents get angry and complain of things like this, the FBI is likely to become interested.

Who “owns” the child, then? The choice is between the parents, who have taken the trouble to have and raise the child—and who, in almost all cases, will give their lives to support the child for as long as it takes and longer—or the educational bureaucracy, which is more likely than a parent to look upon the child as an asset in a social engineering project to rearrange government and society.

***

The revolutionary force behind this social engineering project is a set of ideas installed in just about every university today. Its smiting arm is the administrative state, an element of America’s ruling class. The administrative state has something over 20 million employees, many of them at the federal but most at the state level. Directly and indirectly, they make rules about half the economy, which means they affect all of it.

Most of the bureaucrats who staff the administrative state have permanent jobs. The idea behind this was that if they do not fear dismissal and have excellent pay and benefits that can’t be reduced, then they will be politically neutral. Today, of course, the public employee unions that represent this administrative state are the largest contributors in politics and give overwhelmingly to one side. They are the very definition of partisanship.

The fiction is that these bureaucrats are highly trained, dispassionate, nonpartisan, and professional, and that therefore they can do a better job, of almost anything, than somebody outside the system can do. They proceed by rules that over time have become ever more hopelessly complex. Only they can read these rules—and, for the most part, they read them as they please.

Judges have up to now, for the most part, given deference to the bureaucrats’ reading of their own rules. It is a rare happy fact that this judicial practice is under challenge in the courts. If it should ever become settled doctrine that the bureaucracy is constrained by the strict letter of the laws made by elected legislators and enforced by elected executives, that will exercise some restraint upon the administrative state. That explains why, after decades of defending judicial supremacy, progressives are beginning to question the authority of the courts and speak openly about packing the Supreme Court.

***

Public education is an important component of the prevailing administrative system. The roots of the system are in Washington, D.C., and the tendrils reach into every town and hamlet that has a public school. These tendrils retain some measure of freedom, especially in red states where legislatures do not go along automatically. In some red states, the growth of administrators has been somewhat slower than average. But this growth has been rapid and large everywhere. In every state, the result has been to remove authority and money away from the schools where the students learn. In every state, the authority and money drained from the schools have flowed toward the bureaucracy.

The political battle over this issue is fraught with dishonesty. Any criticism of public education is immediately styled as a criticism of teachers. But as the numbers show, the public education system works to the detriment of teachers and for the benefit of bureaucrats. The teachers unions themselves, some of the largest of the public employee unions, claim to be defending teachers and children. That cannot be more than half true, given that they are defending an administrative system that has grown by leaps and bounds while the number of teachers has grown very little.

Worse even than this is the tendency the system sets in all of us. Bureaucracy is a set of processes, a series of prescribed steps not unlike instructions for assembling a toy. First this happens, then that happens, and then the next thing. The processes proceed according to rules. It is a profession unto itself to gain competence in navigating these rules, but nobody is really competent. Today we tend too much to think that this kind of process is the only thing that can give legitimacy to something. A history curriculum is adopted, not because it gives a true account of the unchangeable things that have already happened, but because it has survived a process. The process is dominated by “stakeholders”—mostly people who have a financial or political interest in what is taught. They are mostly not teachers or scholars but advocates. And so we adopt our textbooks, our lesson plans, and our state standardized tests with a view to future political outcomes once the kids grow up.

I have said and written many times that the political contest between parents and people who make an independent living, on the one hand, and the administrative state and all its mighty forces on the other, is the key political contest of our time. Today that seems truer than ever. The lines are clearly formed.

***

As long as our representative institutions work in response to the public will, there is thankfully no need for violence. As the Declaration of Independence says, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”

The Declaration guides us in our peaceful pursuits, too. In naming the causes of the American Revolution, it gives a guide to maintaining free and responsible government. The long middle section of the Declaration accuses the King of interfering with representative government, violating the separation of powers, undermining the independence of the judiciary, and failing to suppress violence.

And in an apposite phrase, it says of the King: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

So it is today. And so it is our duty to defend our American way of life.

*****

Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. From October 2020 to January 2021, he served as co-chair of the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission. He is the author of several books, including The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.

The Other Thanksgiving Story

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

It really is about being grateful, which is something too few of our spoiled citizens appreciate.  But since the holiday is being weaponized by “woke culture”, there are some other elements of the story to think about.

The short version, the way it is taught today, is that greedy Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Bay.  Half of the Pilgrims died from disease and starvation the first winter. Befriended by kind Indians, they barely survived and gave thanks to the Almighty.  Then, the Pilgrims went on to colonize the natives.  Today, one of the Indian tribes most closely associated with the Pilgrims regrets they gave them help.

Thus like Columbus Day, much of the meaning of Thanksgiving gets lost in the culture wars of today.  It has been turned into a story about the evils of colonizing and European culture, and an elevation of the indigenous to almost mythical levels.

It really is about being grateful, which is something too few of our spoiled citizens appreciate.  But since the holiday is being weaponized by “woke culture”, there are some other elements of the story to think about.

What are the sheer odds of things coming together the way they did?  If not a product of Devine Providence, the story is remarkable by the extremely low odds things could unfold the way they did.

One of the first is being blown off course and landing precisely at a spot where native people had been wiped out by a plague.  If one had to land in cold Massachusetts, they by chance found a good spot.  They found depopulated villages, mass graves, and a Wampanoag society devasted well before the Pilgrims arrived.  They did not seize native land, it was abandoned.

As to the help they received, the story of Squanto is remarkable just for its improbability.  Taken likely by English sailors fishing the region, he was sold into slavery, wound up in Spain, learned European languages, was befriended by religious monks, and remarkably then returned to his people who had been wiped out. He did not die in slavery, did not succumb to European diseases, and was likely one of the only English-speaking natives in the whole region.  And, he showed up just in the nick of time and preferred to live his life among the English until his death.  What are the odds of that?

His introduction was just as improbable.  Another Indian, who had learned some English named Samoset contacted the Pilgrims.  His first words were reported to be “do you have any beer”, a question that can be appreciated today as well.  It was through this colorful introduction that Squanto met the Pilgrims and helped them learn planting procedures.

Then there is the strategic alliance formed between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims. 

The Indians of North America had not reached the level of sophistication of their fellow tribesmen in South America.  They did not have the wheel, work metals, a recorded language, or writing.  They were stone age people set on a collision course with a more technologically advanced “alien” civilization.  Wherever that occurred, in Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, or Australia, the outcome would not be good for the natives.

The leader of the Wampanoag, Massasoit, knew his plague-weakened tribe was in serious trouble.  But the threat was not the Pilgrims. An aggressive and more powerful tribe, the Narragansetts, would likely subjugate his people.  It was not uncommon among North American tribes to kill and torture their rivals, seize their land, enslave their women and children, and on occasion, eat them.

Lost by most is the diplomatic maneuvering that occurred.  Massasoit sought out the Pilgrims for a military alliance against another tribe.  The Pilgrims entered into a peace treaty with them.  The treaty provisions basically said that none of Massasoit’s men would harm the Pilgrims, and if they did, they would be sent to the Pilgrims for punishment and if anyone went to war with Massasoit, the Pilgrims and their flintlocks would come to their aid.  Does that sound like colonizing to you?

To be sure, unjust things to native Americans occurred later, but why blame the Pilgrims?

Further, several years later, Massasoit became gravely ill and went blind.  The Pilgrims were sent out to visit him and were told he was dead.

But, they found Massasoit alive but near death, and one Edward Winslow gave him medicine, scraped his throat, and gave him chicken soup (no kidding). The chief regained his eyesight, began to eat once again, and recovered.  

Grateful for the care, Massasoit revealed a plot by other Indians to wipe out the Pilgrims.  Armed with this vital intelligence, Miles Standish, with the help of Massasoit’s men, defeated the plot before it could materialize.  Massasoit remained a friend of the Pilgrims until his death. Does that sound like colonizing to you?

What are the odds that the primitive medicine practiced by the Pilgrims could work such miracles on Massasoit, and that he in turn would reveal a plot by other Indians to destroy the Pilgrims?

Isn’t it interesting that those today who hate the idea of migrants from Europe landing in North America are the ones in favor of migrants displacing the people in Texas and Arizona?

And as to the Indian leaders today who take to the Washington Post to voice their regrets about helping the Pilgrims, both the Post and the Indian leaders are guilty of “presentism”, or view all historical events through the prism of today’s woke ideology.

Both sides cooperated with each other for good reason.  They needed each other for survival. It might not be too much to say that descendants today of the Wampanoag might not be around to criticize the Pilgrims were it not for the alliance formed between Massasoit and the Europeans.

Finally, in the diary of William Bradford, we learn about another challenge the Pilgrims beat.  This is one of their own makings.  It was socialism.

At first, all production was to be shared, regardless of one’s effort.  Individuals farmed collective land.  As a result, production dropped and starvation stalked the land.  There was no incentive to work.  Basically, it was “universal basic income”. Bradford reversed course, allowing private plots and making individuals responsible for themselves.  The Pilgrims were not only saved by Squanto, but by capitalism.

So there is a lot of interesting history in the back story to Thanksgiving to reflect upon if you can get through the distortions so frequently pedaled today.  Even the nature of history itself is a subject of the Thanksgiving experience.  It is said that history is written by the victors.  Today, it is written by the victors on behalf of the losers. 

The Pilgrims put much of their history down in writing.  The natives used oral history.  The quality of the two is not equivalent.  It is hard enough to get the facts straight and interpreted fairly from original written documents. But oral history has no objective tether to the facts.  Just listening to the yarns of relatives should prove that to you.  Ever notice how events you were party to get changed over the years, embellished sometimes beyond recognition?

Try to have an accurate depiction of events passed on down from 400 years ago.  It is just not possible.  This truth is likely painful to those that revere “oral history.”

No, the Pilgrims were not perfect, but they were not devils either.  The treaty with the Wampanoag, initiated by Massasoit is evidence of that, as was their medical care of him.

It is not a good thing for a nation to have every element of its history turned into an evil crime.  A strong civilization should be able to critique itself, but constant exaggeration and selective negative history can undermine belief in one’s country and civilization.  Why defend it, if that is the case?

A nation’s history is not solely defined by its shortcomings, nor is its destiny. The Pilgrims conducted themselves pretty well given the time in which they lived.

Those who want to undermine America use distortions of history for their own purposes.

Thanksgiving is actually a remarkable and improbable story.  It either was divine intervention or one of the most implausible sets of circumstances one can imagine.

Those actually participating in the events were religious and saw their salvation in religious terms.  Their survival hung on a miraculous set of events.

Today, we can look back at the development of a wonderful country that has its warts to be sure, but still remains a beacon to those who want to find a better life.

We have not been wiped out by war, disease, socialism, or starvation.  Lots of people have had that fate.  We haven’t.  Be thankful for that.

 

Facebook Works to Deliver Us From Truth

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

This morning, a friend published a short post on Facebook, drawing attention to how it seemed to him the company was not even bothering any more to refer to the so-called “independent fact-checkers” to justify their censorship. He had re-posted a clip where Fox reporter Tucker Carlson discussed the negative effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, referring to peer-reviewed studies. The clip is available here.

No reference to the twenty-something undergrads at the censorship agencies, just this label:

How on earth can peer-reviewed results constitute “misinformation”? The peer review process isn’t perfect, far from it, but after all it is the accepted standard. The first conclusion therefore is that the word “misinformation” does not refer to misinformation any more, it simply refers to any information the censor wants suppressed. The word has become meaningless.

The action, then, is suppression of a certain kind of information, but what about the reason? The reason for suppressing uncomfortable information about Covid-19 vaccines is that seeing this information may “make some people feel unsafe”. What does this mean precisely?

There are at least two possibilities, and here I’m talking only about those who believe in the narrative. The first is that people may feel unsafe seeing evidence that contradicts what they’ve been told by the authorities, the mainstream media and the social media giants; the “safe and effective” mantra. Watching Tucker Carlson’s review of the evidence might make people feel unsafe, uncertain, sceptical towards the propaganda relentlessly pushed towards them; this is what happens when you discover you’ve been deceived by someone you trusted. You feel unsafe for you don’t know who to trust any more.

Secondly, people may feel unsafe because their worldview is being threatened, while they still cling to it with all their might. They still believe the lies; they have no doubts, but discovering how some other people do not share their view of the world makes them frightened. Perhaps they’ve taken part in ostracising others, ridiculing them, wishing them harm, fearing for themselves if the truth comes out. Perhaps they suspect, deep down, that they are being deceived, but fear the consequences of the full realisation.

They may even have been so thoroughly brainwashed that they actually believe young and healthy people, an age-group with a demonstrated Covid mortality rate on par with the flu, will drop like flies in case they get infected, like this unfortunate young woman, willing to risk her life to protect her ill-advised belief.

Notice the wording in Facebook’s label. It does not say the alleged “misinformation” will make people unsafe, it says it will make them feel unsafe. When your view of the world is threatened you may certainly feel unsafe, but that doesn’t mean you are any less safe than you were before.

If someone points out to you the bridge you cross every day, and have been assured is well built and robust, is rusting away and may collapse any day, you may feel unsafe in the way you will doubt some other things you’ve been led to believe by the same people who assured you of the safety of the bridge, but avoiding that bridge will surely make you safer in the future.

If you find out that a medication you’ve been led to believe is safe and effective actually isn’t, you may feel unsafe in the same way. But avoiding that medication will surely make you safer in the future.

Having to think may make you feel unsafe, but it will not make you unsafe. A true belief is the result of thinking; to arrive at the truth we must have all the relevant information we can come by, evaluate it and in the end come to an informed conclusion. It may not hold forever, new evidence may present itself, we may have to reconsider our conclusion.

This is the essence of science, the prerequisite of progress, and also the prequisite of making the best and safest decisions for ourselves.

Facebook’s aim is not to make their users safe. Their aim is to make them feel they are safe, to prevent them from discovering challenging information, prevent them from thinking. They are the apostles of a new god, and his followers do not ask him to deliver them from evil, they ask him to deliver them from truth.

*****
This article was published by Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

As Murders Soar, FBI Buries the Data

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Overview

Based on a misunderstanding of new FBI data, NewsNation is reporting that 14,677 murders occurred in the U.S. during 2021, a supposedly large decline from 2020. In reality, that figure is far from complete, and comprehensive records from death certificates show that about 24,493 people were murdered in 2021. This is about:

  • 1,000 more murders than in 2020.
  • 6,000 more murders than in 2019.
  • 10,000 more murders than NewsNation reported.

Murders have become so common over the past two years that if the murder rate remains at the 2021 level, one out of every 179 people in the U.S. will eventually be murdered. Yet, certain politicians and media outlets are downplaying this bloodshed, while others are blaming it on Covid—a claim at odds with the facts.

A major source of confusion about this issue is the FBI, which is releasing fragmentary and inaccessible data on murders and other crimes. The FBI is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is under the authority of President Biden.

Burying Crime Data

In 2021, the year Joe Biden became president, the FBI began making it far more difficult to access national estimates of murders and other crimes. The agency did this by dramatically changing the manner in which it reports such data.

Every year for more than eight decades, the FBI has published a report titled “Crime in the United States” which contains national crime estimates for the previous year. Before 2021, the FBI published this report with a simple overview page containing links like “Violent Crime,” “Property Crime,” and “Homicide.” These led to webpages with clear summaries and straightforward datasets for such crimes.

Since 2021, the FBI has published those reports only via a “Crime Data Explorer” which contains a maze of vaguely worded links, drop down menus, and acronyms. To locate the FBI’s estimate of murders for 2021 with this system, readers must:

  • go to the Crime Data Explorer home page and scroll past three prominent links named “Crime Data Explorer,” “Law Enforcement Explorer,” and “Documents and Downloads” which lead to webpages with scores of menus and files that don’t contain the data.
  • scroll to a section of the webpage titled “Explore by Location and Dataset: State participation depicts current year.”
  • click on a dropdown menu under a header named “Dataset” and select the menu item that says “NIBRS Estimation Data,” which leads to another webpage.
  • scroll to a section of the webpage called “NIBRS Estimation Viewer” and read the report that contains the data via a file viewer that sometimes fails to display the report or click on a link that says “Download NIBRS Trend Analysis Report.”

Nevertheless, the FBI claims that its Crime Data Explorer enables “law enforcement and the general public to more easily use and understand the massive amounts” of crime data it collects. Belying that statement, Google shows that only five news outlets have reported the fact that the FBI’s 2021 estimate for murders ranges from 21,300 to 24,600. Moreover, two of the outlets obtained these figures from two of the other outlets, not from the FBI. The sole place where the FBI reveals these figures is in the above-mentioned buried report.

So where did NewsNation obtain the much lower figure of 14,677 murders in 2021? From an easy-to-access webpage on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. Specifically, NewsNation linked to a page that can be accessed by clicking the first prominent link on the home page of the Crime Data Explorer and then clicking on “Expanded Homicide Data.” This leads to a webpage with a chart showing 14,677 murders in 2021, a large decline from 2020, just as NewsNation reported:

The FBI’s webpage contains two notes above the chart indicating that it shows incomplete data, but these caveats may not have been direct enough for NewsNation to fully grasp them:

  • “In 2021, the FBI expanded homicide crime statistics for the nation are based on 11,794 of 18,806 law enforcement agencies in the country that year who elected to submit an expanded homicide report.”
  • “2021 Expanded Homicide Data includes fewer homicides due to an overall decrease in participation from agencies that are not yet reporting via NIBRS.”

The fact that this incomplete data can be accessed so easily may have also led NewsNation to assume it was complete.

Supposedly, “No One Knows”

Compounding the confusion, the FBI switched to a new crime measurement system in 2021 which is leading journalists to report that there is no way to know if murders increased from 2020 to 2021. This new system is reliant upon electronic submissions from local and state law enforcement agencies, and many of them are not using it yet.

Non-reporting agencies cover 35% of the U.S. population, including the nation’s largest cities—New York and Los Angeles. Thus, the FBI explains that its crime estimates for 2021 are based on a “complex estimation process to account for unreported data” to “bridge this gap.”

That is why the FBI’s murder estimate for 2021 ranges from 21,300 to 24,600, an enormous uncertainty of 3,300 murders. Without quantifying this margin of error, the FBI issued a press release in October 2022 that provides a mid-point estimate for murders near the bottom of the release. There, the FBI states that:

  • “the estimated number of murders increased from 22,000 in 2020 to 22,900 in 2021.”
  • “it is important to note that these estimated trends are not considered statistically significant” by the FBI’s “estimation methods.”
  • “the nonsignificant nature of the observed trends is why, despite these described changes, the overall message is that crime remained consistent.”
  • “the complete analysis is located on the UCR’s Crime Data Explorer.”

The FBI published a similarly worded crime summary in the same month, buried in an accordion menu of its Crime Data Explorer.

As a result of this uncertainty, news outlets that have managed to find the FBI’s homicide estimates for 2021 have made statements like these:

  • “Good luck figuring out what happened with crime in 2021.” Vox
  • “Did Murders Rise in 2021? No One Knows.” Reason

In reality, however, we do know that murders rose because there is a more reliable source for this data than the FBI.

Murder Data and Trends

The broadest measure of homicides in the U.S. is death certificates, which are commonly completed by medical examiners or coroners. As explained by the Department of Justice in a 2014 report, death certificates provide “more accurate homicide trends at the national level than” FBI data because:

  • the reporting of death certificates is “mandatory,” while the FBI relies on “voluntary” reports “from individual law enforcement agencies that are compiled monthly by state-level agencies.”
  • death certificates include homicides that “occur in federal jurisdictions,” while the FBI rarely counts “homicides occurring in federal prisons, on military bases, and on Indian reservations.”
  • death certificates include homicides caused by the deliberate “crashing of a motor vehicle, but this category generally accounts for less than 100 deaths per year.”

The report concludes that the death certificates “consistently” show “a higher number and rate of homicides in the United States compared” to the FBI data, “likely due to the differences in coverage and scope and the voluntary versus mandatory nature of the data collection as described above.”

The FBI tries to account for incomplete coverage by estimating the number of murders that aren’t reported to the FBI, but over the past decades, this process has yielded about 1,500–2,700 less murders per year than homicides listed on death certificates:

On the other hand, death certificates tend to overcount murders because they include justifiable homicides by civilians acting in self-defense, which are not murders. Such cases amounted to about 2.5% of homicides in 2015–2019.

Death certificates also include some justifiable homicides by police, even though these are supposed to be coded as “legal intervention deaths,” not as homicides. A study of 16 states during 2005–2012 suggests that such miscoded cases accounted for roughly 1.7% of homicides.

If the two rates above are currently applicable to the nation as a whole, the actual number of murders is about 4.2% less than the number of homicides recorded on death certificates.

Homicide counts from death certificates are published by the CDC via two online data extraction portals. Both of these report 24,576 homicides in 2020, but they don’t yet present data for 2021. However, another CDC portal provides provisional homicide rates through 2021, reporting 7.5 homicides per 100,000 people in 2020 and 7.8 in 2021. Combining these three figures yields 25,559 homicides in 2021.

Removing justifiable homicides to obtain an estimate of actual murders, about 24,493 people were murdered in 2021. This is about 1,000 more murders than in 2020, a 5% increase on top of a 28% increase the year before that.

To provide a sense of scale for this bloodshed, one out of every 179 people in the U.S. will eventually be slain if murders remain at the same rate as 2021.

Even in previous years when murders were much less common, the lifetime likelihood of murder was so shocking to some people that they sent repeated emails to Just Facts insisting it was wrong. Yet, the methodology used by Just Facts to compute this figure was developed by a licensed actuary, double-checked by a Ph.D. mathematician, and triple-checked by a Ph.D. biostatistician.

In other words, the numbers are correct, but some people’s perception of the problem is disconnected from reality. Beyond NewsNation, others who have recently downplayed the severity of crime in the U.S. include but are not limited to President BidenCongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-CortezJoy Behar of ABC’s The View, and the New York Times (Hat Tip: Tim Graham).

All of those individuals and organizations are proponents of the notion that the U.S. doesn’t have a severe crime problem but is simply too hard on crime. Hence, they argue that reducing arrests, eliminating bail, and lessening jail terms will make America more just without making it less safe.

That agenda has been rapidly advanced by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement since the death of George Floyd in May 2020, and murders have soared. In 2021, the U.S. murder rate was even worse than in 2001 when America was attacked by terrorists who slaughtered 2,977 people:

Historical FBI data that stretches back to 1960 shows that the current murder rate is still far below the U.S. murder peak of 1980. Still, the rapid increases since 2019 translate to 11,000 more lost lives, including 5,000 more in 2020 and 6,000 more in 2021.

Because correlation does not prove causation, one cannot assume the BLM movement is the cause of these increased murders. However, other facts detailed below reveal that this is a distinct possibility—and far more likely than the common journalistic explanations for this carnage.

What’s Causing The Bloodshed?

Many media outlets have implied or explicitly reported that the massive increase in murders over the past two years is largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A small sample includes the New York TimesPoliticoAxiosCBS News, and CNN. This claim, however, is at odds with two key facts.

First, it is based on the childish notion that correlation proves causation, a fallacy that high schoolers are taught to avoid. This is because the occurrence of two events in the same year can be a mere coincidence or caused by numerous other factors. A failure to recognize this reality is a common feature of junk science and political propaganda. In the words of an academic textbook about analyzing data:

Association is not the same as causation. This issue is a persistent problem in empirical analysis in the social sciences. Often the investigator will plot two variables and use the tight relationship obtained to draw absolutely ridiculous or completely erroneous conclusions. Because we so often confuse association and causation, it is extremely easy to be convinced that a tight relationship between two variables means that one is causing the other. This is simply not true.

Second, there isn’t even a correlation between the Covid-19 pandemic and murders. This is evidenced by:

  • a study in the journal Crime Science, which found that despite over one million reported Covid cases and 80,000 Covid-related deaths in the U.S. during the first two months of the pandemic, “there were no significant changes in the frequency of serious assaults in public” or “serious assaults in residences.”
  • murder rates in England, which actually declined in 2020 and 2021, even though the nation is demographically similar to the U.S. and had slightly higher Covid death rates throughout this period.
  • study published by the University of California Press, which documents that the recent rise of murders does not accord chronologically or geographically with the onset of the pandemic.

In stark contrast, the same study found that the timing of the 2020 murder surge in multiple major U.S. cities can be pinpointed to “the death of George Floyd” and the “subsequent antipolice protests,” which “likely led to declines in law enforcement.” Floyd died on May 25, 2020, but the pandemic began more than two months earlier on March 11.

The study’s author, criminal law professor Paul G. Cassell, summarizes the evidence as follows:

  • “Social science research can rarely provide unequivocal answers to complex criminal justice issues,” but “my view is that the best available evidence points to de-policing as the dominant (but not necessarily exclusive) factor in the ongoing surge in gun violence.”
  • “While these estimates are stated in the cold precision of an economic calculation, it must be remembered that behind these grim numbers lies a tremendous toll in human suffering—lives lost, futures destroyed, and families left grieving.”

Similar results have been found by other studies which have examined murder increases in the wake of analogous events like the protests and riots that occurred over the police killing of Michael Brown in 2015.

One of the most telling of these studies was conducted by Ph.D. sociologist Richard Rosenfeld, former president of the American Society of Criminology. An article in The Guardian explains the implications:

For nearly a year, Richard Rosenfeld’s research on crime trends has been used to debunk the existence of a “Ferguson effect,” a suggested link between protests over police killings of black Americans and an increase in crime and murder. Now, the St. Louis criminologist says, a deeper analysis of the increase in homicides in 2015 has convinced him that “some version” of the Ferguson effect may be real.

Looking at data from 56 large cities across the country, Rosenfeld found a 17% increase in homicide in 2015. Much of that increase came from only 10 cities, which saw an average 33% increase in homicide. …

“The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” Rosenfeld said. Now, he said, that’s his “leading hypothesis.”

Another common explanation for the murder increase is recent rises in gun sales, but this notion doesn’t hold water. Cassel’s study examined this possibility and found that the increases in firearm purchases don’t accord with the murder surges in time or place. He also notes that:

the United States already has a huge number of firearms in private hands—about 400 million by some measures. Against this backdrop, a recent increase of 2 million gun sales (about 0.5% of the total) seems like a poor candidate for explaining sudden and dramatic changes in homicides.

Summary

Murders in the United States have soared by 34% over the past few years—growing from about 18,342 victims in 2019 to 24,493 in 2021. Yet, certain Democratic politicians and media outlets are downplaying this problem.

If the murder rate remains at the 2021 level, one out of every 179 people in the U.S. will eventually be murdered.

As murders have skyrocketed, the FBI has made it far more difficult to access its national estimates of murders and other crimes. The FBI has also switched to a new crime measurement system which currently has a large degree of uncertainty. As such, FBI data cannot resolve whether murders rose or fell from 2020 to 2021.

For decades, the FBI has undercounted murders, while death certificates have overcounted them. Starting with data from death certificates and removing justifiable homicides provides a more reliable estimate of murders.

Identifying the cause (or causes) of the recent rise in murders is complicated by the fact that correlation does not prove causation. Paying no heed to this reality, many media outlets have pinned the blame on Covid-19 and gun sales. However, the data are more consistent with the possibility that the BLM movement is responsible.

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This article was published by Just Facts and is reproduced with permission.

Demand They Strike Their Colors

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown University, caused a stir with an opinion piece in The Atlantic, the venerable magazine now owned by liberal mega-donor Laurene Powell Jobs through her Emerson Collective. In it, Oster called for apandemic amnestyfor those who encouraged ultimately pointless intrusions on life amid COVID-19.

This was seized upon by one of the worst actors of the crisis, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, with a simple Twitter statement: “I agree.” To those who endured the school closures in states institutionally loyal to Weingarten and her fellow teachers’ unionists, this is like seeing a warship’s ensign flying: a sign that the adversary, whatever the reality of the situation, does not believe itself defeated.

In Denial

First, one must remember Weingarten has attempted to obscure her role in extended school closures, which are increasingly proven to have been utterly destructive to American students. Weingarten has affirmed that she and her union “wanted kids in school,” a claim that is “true” only in the most technical sense and contrary to the reality that teachers unions lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue the most restrictive “reopening” guidance possible. It is also inconsistent with the reality in states most loyal to the teachers union agenda, which saw the most extended closures long beyond the point at which a reasonable person could assume them to be necessary for public health.

Second, one looks with concern upon teachers unionists’ unwillingness to admit the costs of school closures. Consistent with her support for “amnesty,” Weingarten has attempted to deflect criticism of school closures by claiming that all students, in-person and remote alike, suffered learning loss. Unless those who discouraged school openings acknowledge the harm done by the policy, it remains “on the table” if the political winds shift again. And then there are those in Weingarten’s AFT who are more openly radical, like United Teachers Los Angeles president Cecily Mayart-Cruz, who told a journalist in 2021, “It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables” in response to questions about Los Angeles’s school closures. That does not sound like a leader prepared to accept responsibility for her atrocious public policy demands.

No Surrender

Finally, one must ask if the ultra-restrictionists to whom Oster would give amnesty have in fact struck their colors and ended hostile action. Bethany Mandel—the conservative writer and children’s book editor who was famously tarred as “grandma killer” for advocating the reopening the National Zoo in Washington, DC, among other things—notes,

Even now, at the end of 2022, children who are speech-delayed—thanks to being surrounded by masked caregivers during a critical developmental stage—are, in some areas, expected to do speech therapy while wearing a mask, with a masked therapist.

Like the crew of a stricken warship that “has not yet begun to fight,” the forces of pandemic theater have not demonstrated surrender. They are suing in courts to retain their powers to force masking and even proposing new federal pandemic powers, with blame only for the supposed “tsunami of misinformation” that led “rural and conservative areas” to doubt their diktats. (For her part Mandel was proved prescient. The Friends of the National Zoo, a private nonprofit that had supported programming at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo since 1958, dissolved its partnership with the Zoo “following the debilitating financial impact of COVID-19 on both organizations” in 2021.)

There cannot be amnesty; there cannot be ceasefire, in the COVID-19 response debate until the side that engaged in hostile actions ceases those actions and gives up. Oster is in no position to offer such surrender: By the standards of her professional managerial class, she was remarkably lenient, advocating for school reopenings before they became politically necessary. The side that followed the teachers unions’ demands must strike its flag and vow never to carry out hostile action again.

Until then, alas, the fight continues.

****
This article was published by Capital Research Center and is reproduced with permission.

We Must Have Accountability

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

By Justin Hart / Brownstone Institute

The failures and harms from our pandemic public policies are legion!

Fauci-endorsed lockdowns were ineffective (and damaging!); risks from COVID-19 are not uniform for the entire population but directly aligned to your age; the mortality impact on children is almost immeasurable but we burdened them with mandates and school closures; mask mandates have shown zero impact on quelling the spread of the virus; denied by Fauci and Co., natural immunity offers strong protection; and vaccines (designed for a 2-year-old variant) have proven ineffectual at stopping the current crop of feared COVID variants.

Dr. Fauci and his cadre of unelected health officials were on the wrong side of every one of these outcomes. They were made aware of every data point above but their one-size-fits-all policies have not changed in the face of the evidence. In their minds, there is only the panic.

Recently, Professor Emily Oster of Brown University, admits in a recent article that interventions like social distancing “were totally misguided” but begs for amnesty for the serious damage wrought by health overlords like Dr. Fauci.

*****
This article was published by Brownstone Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey

White and Woke Supremacy

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The forgotten white supremacists whose descendants pretend to be woke and virtuous.   

Below are vile, racist comments spoken by white supremacists about minorities. The supremacists and minorities will be identified after the comments.

These races have “crooked faces, coarse mouths, bad noses, heavy jaws, and low foreheads.”

They “lack the conveniences for thinking” and are “a degenerate class.”

They are “uncleanly, intemperate, quarrelsome, ignorant, and hard on women and children.”

The distinctive shape of their nose arises from “the habitual use of the quadratus muscle, the muscle of disgust, contempt, and disdain, which lead to scorn, acknowledging guilt.”

They are “vast masses of filth.”

We are imperiled by “multitudes of men of the lowest class, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy, nor any initiative of quick intelligence.”

The “hirsute, low-browed, big-faced persons of low mentality clearly belong in skins, in wattled huts at the close of the Great Ice Age.”

Note: The source of the above and much of what follows is the outstanding book, The Guarded Gate, by Daniel Okrent.

Clearly, the foregoing disgusting comments were said by Southern rednecks and right-wing extremists. Just as clearly, they were said about African Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, and other minorities of color. And they were spoken in the dark recesses of the internet.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The comments were uttered in the early twentieth century and beyond by New England intellectuals, academics, politicians, and other members of high society—all of whom were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, most of whom were progressives, and many of whom claimed that their lineage went back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The comments were about Jews, Catholics, eastern Europeans, and southern Europeans, especially Italians—all of whom were seen as non-white and genetically inferior.

Such comments were published and/or praised by leading publications and universities. The publications included the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, the Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and the American Economic Review. The universities included Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. Even the American Museum of Natural History joined the bandwagon.

Leading politicians and influencers also agreed with the sentiments, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Cabot Lodge, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Charles Scribner of publishing fame, and J.H. Kellogg of cereal fame. Others included Walter Lippmann, the famous journalist and founder of the New Republic; and Mary Harriman, the wealthiest woman in America, who had inherited her wealth from her father, E.H. Harriman, the baron of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads.

Supremacist thinking was especially rife in the early decades of the twentieth century but also extended into later decades. For example, Look Magazine, which was a popular and widely circulated periodical, wrote that baseball great Joe DiMaggio was not a typical Italian, in that he didn’t reek of garlic and put bear grease on his hair. Another baseball great, Yogi Berra, was compared to an ape in appearance.

Incidentally, my dad and uncle grew up with Yogi in the Italian section of St. Louis, which was known as Dago Hill when I was a kid.

Return to the early twentieth century, the Breeders Association was an influential organization at the time. Its mission was not to breed better dogs but to breed better people—namely, people who were like WASPs and not people who were like Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Greeks, and so on. The organization dovetailed with the eugenics movement.

This was white supremacy for sure, or more accurately, WASP supremacy.

Another WASP supremacist was Madison Grant, the author of a popular book, The Passing of the Great Race. The book’s theme was that Americans of Nordic blood were being overrun by the “barbaric blood” of non-Nordics.

The San Francisco Chronicle said that Grant was “a thoroughly qualified ethnologist.” The Nation editorialized that his book gave “a historical concept of truths of racial evolution which as a whole is unanswerable.” The New York Times featured the book over two pages of its Sunday magazine. The National Research Council honored Grant with an appointment to its Anthropology Committee, and he was lauded by the Association for the Advancement of Science.

Another book of the same genre was Applied Eugenics, which became a leading textbook that went through four printings in six years. Its authors, diehard progressives, wrote that suitable eugenic material couldn’t be found in the “fecund stocks” of people marked by “illiteracy, squalor and tuberculosis, their high death rates, their economic straits.”

The epitome of white supremacy was William Earl Dodge, a Manhattanite, heir to three large fortunes, and breeder of horses. He authored the book, The Right to Be Well Born, which, among other supremacist themes, contended that the lower classes should have their own registry, like Clydesdales, so that potential mates could see where each other ranked on a eugenics scale.

Today, many of the descendants of the foregoing white supremacists are no doubt privileged, progressive, and well-off, having used their inherited advantages to become leaders in business, academia, the arts, and government. They are also probably woke, due to knowing their ancestral history and feeling guilty about it. As such, they embrace critical race theory, diversity and inclusion initiatives for non-whites, as well as reeducation workshops in which white students and white corporate employees are forced to confront their privilege and subconscious racism—inanities that don’t affect the privileged progeny of white supremacists, because, from their lofty heights, they are above the fray.

It’s a double travesty that the progeny are projecting their guilt and penance on the descendants of those who suffered at the hands of the progeny’s forebears. And to make it worse, today’s media, academia, and industry let them get by with it.

CHILDREN: Majority of Americans Believe Transgender Movement Has Gone Too Far

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

A new poll finds 75 percent of likely American voters believe the transgender movement has gone too far by encouraging underage minors to use drugs and surgery to transition to the opposite sex.

The survey, co-sponsored by Colorado-based Summit Ministries – which embraces a Christian worldview – and national polling firm McLaughlin & Associates, also finds 69 percent of voters who have an opinion on the issue believe the rise in transgenderism among teens is the result of influence to question their gender by social media and other cultural forces.

The poll of 1,000 likely general election voters across the country was conducted October 12-17, and has an accuracy of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

“What is your opinion on why transgenderism is rising amongst underage minors?” respondents were asked. “Underage minors feel free to question their gender without judgement, OR, Underage minors are being influenced to question their gender due to social media and other cultural influences.”

Among the 860 participants who answered this question, 69 percent said underage minors are being influenced to question their gender, while 31 percent said they feel free to question their gender without judgment.

“Do you believe the transgender movement has gone too far by encouraging underage minors to use drugs and surgery to transition to the opposite sex?” participants were asked.

Among the 858 respondents who answered this question, 75 percent answered “yes,” while 24 percent said, “no.”….

*****

Continue reading at The Star News Network.

Identity Crisis

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

In the early Spring I began working on a documentary series for Independent Women’s Forum called “Identity Crisis.” The project tells the stories of four mothers whose daughters fell victim to gender ideology, two detransitioners who now warn of the harms this movement is causing, and one mental health professional who rails against her profession for prioritizing political correctness over public health.

This series was inspired by the censorship and media blackout these individuals have faced. The number of transgender-identifying youth has nearly doubled in recent years, which has left politicians, educators, medical professionals, and the public at odds over what policies are best suited to protect the health and well-being of children. Despite the high stakes, the media is only telling one side of the story. We’re here to change that, and I’m here to shed light on some of the personal devastation that these individuals and families have faced.

The most recent story published in our series features Vera Lindner, an immigrant mother from California who says gender ideology drove her autistic, gender-confused daughter into a “catastrophic” mental breakdown. Her daughter faced a slew of mental health issues that needed to be addressed: she was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. But all the therapist who was supposed to be treating her wanted to do was “affirm” her new male identity. From the moment her daughter declared her transgender identity, the therapist started referring to her daughter as a boy. No questions asked.

This mother’s story explores a huge aspect of the transgender movement that politicians, medical professionals, media, and activists don’t want to acknowledge, let alone explore—the connection between autism and transgenderism. It’s malpractice.

The first story featured in our series involved Jeannette Cooper, a Chicago mother who lost custody of her 12-year-old daughter for insisting that she is a girl. After a regular custodial visit to her father’s house, Jeannette’s daughter decided she was trans and felt “unsafe” around her mom. In the last 3 years, Jeannette has seen her daughter for a total of 8 and a half hours. It’s been so long that Jeannette doesn’t even know how tall her daughter is anymore. She’s only allowed to communicate with her by postal mail. As Jeannette said, “People who are in prison have more communication with their child than I do. It’s wrong.”

Then came Jennifer, a mother from a Seattle suburb who in 2019 received an email from her daughter’s 5th-grade teacher. The teacher, a male, was using a different name for her then-10-year-old daughter. Jennifer thought it was a mistake—the teacher must have accidentally emailed the wrong parent. But Jennifer later found out that for six months, her daughter was meeting with a school therapist once a week who was treating her as a boy, using male pronouns and a made-up male name.

In February 2020, right before COVID-19 hit, that therapist emailed Jennifer to schedule a meeting where the therapist would assist her daughter in officially “coming out” to her parents as a boy, and to obtain parental permission to allow her daughter to stay overnight in the boy’s cabin for an upcoming school trip. At this point, Jennifer’s daughter was only 11 years old, so the school had to obtain permission. But had she been 13, Jennifer wouldn’t even have had a right to know because she lives in Washington state, where children as young as 13 years old can access their own medical and mental health services without parental knowledge or consent.

Parents in these cases are billed by insurance companies with no explanation of benefits, meaning they’re stuck with the tab but have no ability to know what services or treatments their child received. California is trying to take it one step further, making itself a “sanctuary state” for children to receive hormones, puberty blockers, and irreversible “gender surgery” without parental consent.

Next came Susie, a mom from Alaska who came face-to-face with the growing phenomenon of adolescent girls identifying as the opposite sex due to a social desire to appear transgender. Critics call the social contagion theory “unfounded” and “absurd,” but after returning in 2020 to the U.S. from a four-year assignment abroad, Susie’s family settled into a house on a street where two out of the eight girls identified as boys. At the local high school where their daughter would soon attend, at least another 10 girls identified as the opposite sex. Shortly after moving there, Susie’s oldest daughter, who had just turned 15, also said she felt like a boy. Susie’s daughter had previously never expressed any discomfort about her gender, but the Left considers this a complete coincidence.

Susie disclosed to her new school counselor in Alaska that her daughter was struggling with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and gender confusion. Susie thought the school was on the same page with how she and her husband wanted to handle their daughter’s sudden transgender identification—by giving their daughter time to experience and explore her feelings, without changing her name or pronouns. But in fall 2021, at the start of the next school year, Susie found her daughter’s student ID, which featured her new, made-up name.

The fact that the school was socially transitioning Susie’s daughter behind her back came as a surprise to Susie, since the entire year, the school was communicating with Susie using female pronouns and her daughter’s real name. When she eventually decided to confront the school and ask how her daughter’s name would appear in the yearbook, school officials told Susie that she has no say over anything her daughter wants to go by or what’s in her record, erroneously citing federal Title IX requirements.

Every one of these mothers’ stories are different. They’re all horrifying in their own way. But all of them have a common theme: A deep and painful sense of betrayal.

The Serpent’s Sting

Mothers, many of them former Democrats, are sickened and betrayed by Democrat politicians whom they spent a lifetime supporting. Democrats who’ve chosen to affirm a toxic ideology that exploits vulnerable children instead of protecting them.

They’re sickened and betrayed by public school educators and administrators lying to them and changing their children’s names and pronouns in-secret, behind their backs. They’re sickened and betrayed by a legal system that was designed to protect children, but is instead using gender ideology as a weapon to sever one of the most fundamental bonds in life—the bond between a mother and her child.

They’re sickened and betrayed by health professionals who took an oath to protect patients from harm and injustice, yet perpetuate just that. They’re sickened and betrayed by a media echo chamber convincing the public that lying to children about their gender is the “kind” and “compassionate” thing to do, when doing so leads children down a path of lifelong doctor’s appointments and medical complications.

They’re sickened and betrayed by seemingly every adult with an ounce of authority, from so-called “support groups” to the President of the United States, sending this message: “We know better than the parents do what’s best for this child,” as if anyone in the world could know and love a child more than that child’s own parents.

I started working on this project when I returned from maternity leave with my second child. To be honest, I wasn’t ready at all to get back to work when I did—even with the privilege of being able to work from home. But I believe God purposefully put this project in my lap, giving me, a fellow mom, the opportunity to give these parents a voice. With a 4-month-old baby sleeping on my chest, I spent hours on the phone listening to these moms and wondering, “How did we let this go so far?” Then with my 2-year-old daughter knocking at my office door asking, “Mommy, are you done with work?” I looked at her through tears wondering, “What if this happened to her?”

I believe what we’re talking about today is a generation of young girls being manipulated and mutilated in a way not much different from female genital mutilation. Which is ironic, because my inspiration for entering this field of work in college was learning about exactly that. But when I was studying them in college, these abuses were always taking place in some far-off country. Never did I imagine reporting on them here at home.

As part of our series, I chose to also tell the stories of two young women who went down the path of a medical transition, only to regret it a few years later. One of them, Daisy Strongin, went so far as to chop off her healthy breasts only to realize shortly after that objectively, she could never actually be a boy. Just a few weeks ago, Daisy gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. It was the fear of never being able to conceive a child due to medical mutilation that ultimately drove her to give it all up.

During our interview, Daisy told me, “If you told me two years ago that in 2022 you would be married and pregnant, I wouldn’t believe you. My parents told me that I would change a lot, but I just could not conceptualize it.”

Daisy’s now happily married and a new mom. But she’ll never be able to breastfeed, she still grows facial hair, and her voice has been permanently deepened. She doesn’t know in what other ways the years of testosterone may have damaged her body, but she knows she’ll do everything in her power to stop her own child from going down this path.

Another detransitioner who I interviewed, Cat Cattison, told me this:

My parents didn’t affirm me, and at the time it did make me very angry. But looking back, I’m very thankful for that. I think that if I would have been able to transition as a child and gone onto puberty blockers, gone onto cross sex hormones at a young age and cut off body parts, I think I would be looking back and I would be thinking, how could you enable this? How could you have gone along with this when I was too young to consent? I do think that, in the future, we’re going to see a lot of children who have detransitioned being angry with their parents and feeling betrayed by them.

Making Up for Lost Time

Here, then, we come full circle. Not only are parents being betrayed, but children are, too. Thousands of parents are suffering at the hands of the gender ideology movement. But it’s their children who are the greatest victims in it.

As the mom of a young girl, I can sleep at night knowing I’m on the right side of this fight, despite the nasty attacks we face. But what makes it hard to sleep is knowing how as a movement, conservatives were too late. We have already failed thousands of vulnerable young girls, who’ve already started puberty blockers and sterilized themselves. We have already failed thousands of young girls who’ve already cut off their breasts or worse, cut off their own skin from their arms or their legs to make a fake penis.

Families have been ripped apart; parents, children, and siblings have been pitted against each other. Doctors, teachers, media, politicians, and activists have normalized young, healthy children mutilating themselves under the guise of tolerance and compassion. It’s literally normal for doctors today to prescribe gender confused children drugs, surgery, and medical treatments—as if it would ever be normal for doctors to prescribe anorexic girls gastric bypass surgery.

How did we get here? As a movement, we were too late. And even today, we’re not doing enough. But these parents and detransitioners aren’t giving up. They’re refusing to be silenced. They’re using their voices to fight for their children, and we’re doing everything in our power to support them. In some cases, like that of Jeannette Cooper, the Chicago mother who lost custody of her daughter simply for insisting that her daughter is a girl, they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice. They’ve lost the basic ability to even see their own child. Why? What makes these unimaginable costs worth it? Here’s Jeannette explaining, in her own words:

I see that my child is at sea in a boat. She is struggling. She is in tumultuous seas. I know that. I have seen that. And what I have been told is to follow her lead, to follow her in this journey.

I am not willing to do that. I don’t think that is good parenting. It is my responsibility not to hook my boat to hers. It is my responsibility to be a lighthouse, to be something stable that she can see, some guide that she has, that will always be there, that is consistent.

That is my responsibility. I still do that today even though I have no custody of her. I have no medical decision making. No educational decision making. And no way to communicate with her other than by mail. I don’t have her phone number. I know where she lives, but I’m not allowed to go there. I know where she goes to school and I’m not allowed there either. But this is parenting. What I’m doing, even though I have no real contact with her, I am still her parent. I am still her mother. And I am still parenting now.

I’ll close my remarks with this. As conservatives, we give a lot of attention to the idea of leftist policies teaching Americans to hate their own country—as we rightly should. But with gender ideology, the reality is far worse than that: leftist policies are teaching children to hate their own parents and to hate their own bodies. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. It’s perverse, destructive, and needs to be stopped.

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This article was published by The American Mind and is reproduced with permission.