At the annual Neanderthal slobber fest known as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), speaker Michael Knowles made one particular comment that provoked considerable outrage. No, no, no. Not outrage among the attendees. People like them are totally impervious to outrage from anything actually outrageous, though you certainly can trigger them with preposterous manufactured “threats”. But the remark did outrage sane and decent Americans around the country. Which is pretty amazing considering that the nation has become so numb to the endless bombardment of tastelessness coming from CPAC-ers.
And just what did he say? Well, several hateful things about transgenders, but the heart of it was this:
…for the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely
A number of prominent media outlets denounced these comments as hateful and incendiary, rightly concluding that they implicitly called for the elimination of transgenders themselves. But Knowles cried foul and demanded a “retraction” of the truthful reporting. And at least a couple of the outlets actually caved and sheepishly altered subsequent editions of their headlines to make him sound less evil than he actually sounded.
But it was hardly the first time he’s hurled inflammatory rhetoric targeting transgenders. In fact, it’s a recurring shtick. And he’s heavily enmeshed with PragerU and Daily Wire, both of which frequently produce anti-trans slime. They’re also frequent haunts, for instance, of Matt Walsh, who created the “documentary” What Is a Woman?
When they get called out, these bigots often invoke what we might call the “dancer and the dance” defense, from the line by poet William Butler Yeats — “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” Which is to say, they draw a distinction between what a person does and what a person is. And there is some validity to that, in some cases. A football player or an accountant has a personal life that may be quite distinct from his or her professional life.
But the other side of the coin is that, although individuals are not always what they do, people generally do what they are. While we might not be able to draw conclusions about a person’s character based on legitimate occupation, we probably can draw conclusions about someone who is a hitman/ woman. Furthermore, it’s important to make the distinction between what we are and what we choose. Michael Knowles doesn’t get that distinction — or else he pretends not to.
If he had said that football should be eradicated, nobody would think that he was inciting violence or hate. We’d all just assume that he meant those athletes should find another livelihood, and not that they all should be lined up and shot.
If, on the other hand, he had said that Judaism should be eradicated, it would be really hard not to conclude that he was advocating rounding up Jews and putting them on cattle trains — or at least that he’d be willing to look the other way if someone else did.
And given that he is one of those who push for Christian nationalism, he’d surely be in a tizzy if someone suggested that Christianity should be eliminated. And Christianity is considerably less rooted in ethnic and national identity than Judaism. Yet both religions, and other religions as well, are entirely voluntary. And they theoretically could be eliminated, albeit over a long period of time, without harming a soul. While you may be born into a particular religion, it’s entirely up to you whether or not you remain a part of it– unlike your options if you’re born, say, an African-American or Native-American. “Eliminating African-Americanism” would be rather unequivocal in its connotations.
Still, even though religion is elective, its practitioners tend to cling to it tenaciously and identify with it quite strongly. So if you talk about eradicating a religion, its adherents are, understandably, going to take it quite personally. The same is true for just about any other kind of ideology or set of values. So if right-wingers hurl eliminationist rhetoric toward, oh, let’s say, “liberalism” or “wokeism”, it’s naturally a cause for alarm. Not that they’d actually do such a thing, of course.
Gender is an even more inextricable component of one’s identity, whether or not one’s gender is the same as one was assigned at birth. This is another point that Knowles doesn’t get, or pretends he doesn’t. In defending his transphobic expostulations, he has said:
Nobody’s calling to exterminate anybody because the other problem with that statement is that transgender people is not a real ontological category. It’s not a legitimate category of being.
Although he makes a half-assed attempt to camouflage his intentions, and tries to make himself sound like an intellectual by throwing in the philosophical term ontological, his meaning comes through loud and clear: he doesn’t consider transgender a “legitimate category of being”; in other words, transgenders are sub-human. Again, just imagine someone saying that (as some people have) about Jews or African-Americans.
He’s really betraying his ignorance here, but that’s no big deal for right-wing polemicists — they traffic in ignorance. Well, ignorance and venom. They are always quite eager and proud to ignore the experts, because they become instant “experts” themselves on absolutely any topic, by dint of ideology, a loud voice and a 5-minute Youtube video.
Now maybe we shouldn’t say that we’d like to eradicate this type of stupidity, because stupid people might take it as a personal threat. But while we can’t kill them off, we certainly can stop handing them a megaphone. Why should anyone care what someone like Michael Knowles has to say at all?
Maybe if we stopped rewarding people for their stupidity by lavishing public attention on them, the stupidity would just die out on its own. But that’s a very big if.
There are some legitimate arguments with a rational basis in facts. Some people observe that when people with male sex organs, undergoe long and arduous operations to become females, since their original male bodies started out being stronger than those of women, would then, despite hormone therapy, could end up have more more natural strength than other women.
However, I get the point you are making about extreme right conservatives who refuse to assign transgenders a particular definition asserting the fact that gays and transgender people are real human beings with a different sexual orientations. Many Trumpers are fanatically condemning the fact that transgender people actually have brain waves that look very much like those of the genders they want to be, or that men who undergo surgery in order to look like females also have brain waves that do not conform with their birth gender, so that is the science, and that is the real physical evidence that people who want to become men and visa verse have minds that have always been different than those of the gender they feel trapped in. Yet when any politician decides to defend transgenders they are immediately confronted by those who think being transgenders is perverse. Even though their different brains have been shaped by nature itself!
This issue is a concerted effort by white fundamentalists Christians who want to condemn the immorality of people who they believe are teaching kids not to accept their birth genders? Yet many different races, religions, cultural backgrounds, and sexual orientations, have all been branded as immoral! So that those who are vulnerable to attack will hate and reject many other kinds of people according to the wishes of their extreme right wing beliefs. This is the way that partisans want to frame the issue–as a battle between good and evil waged by supposedly righteous Christians who want to establish a theocratic government, complete with violations of all of our first amendment rights–even though Under the constitution our government does not have the right to establish or destroy any religion as being the only valid and right one? Yet yet many churches have been incredibly intolerant through hundreds of years by insisting that only they have the right understanding of God.
So remember that many liberals are also religious but could care less about establishing their own faiths, as being the one true religions?” However as liberals attacking right wing theologies. we are just pointing out that no one faith should ever have both its hand on the reigns of political power. But conservative are truly on a witch-hunt aimed at attacking democrats for wanting to challenge all the self righteous dogma that is being used for unconstitutional purposes by power hungry Trump supporters.
Hello Pop, since my first response was so full of errors, I wrote this one after editing the first. So please publish this and delete my first comment above:
There are some legitimate arguments with a rational basis in facts. Some people observe that when people with male sex organs undergo long and arduous operations to become females, since their original male bodies started out being musculally stronger than women in general, their bodies would then, despite hormone treatments, still become women who have more muscle mass than non-transgender women. However, I get the point you are making about extreme right conservatives who refuse to define transgenders using a particular sexual term, because they refuse to believe that gays and transgender people are really human beings who have biologically different sexual orientations. Many Trumpers insist on denying the fact that transgender people have brain waves that are very much like those of the genders they want to be, or that men who undergo surgery in order to look like females, have brain waves that do not conform with their birth gender! So that is the science, and the proof that people who want to become men and visa versa have minds that have always been different than those of the bodies they feel trapped in. Yet when any politician decides to defend transgenders they are immediately confronted by those who think being transgender is perverse–even though science has proven that their different brains have been shaped by nature itself!
This issue is a concerted effort by white fundamentalists Christians who want to condemn the immorality of those who (they think) are claiming that being transgender is nothing but a willful choice to be perverse. They also condemn many different races, religions, cultural backgrounds, and sexual orientations, which they believe are immoral! So, those who are vulnerable to attack will be hated and rejected by many fundamentalists people according to the dictates of their extreme right wing beliefs. This is the way that partisans want to frame the issue–as a battle between good and evil waged by supposedly righteous Christians who want to establish a theocratic government complete with violations of all of our first amendment rights–even though under the constitution our government does not have the right to establish or destroy any religion for not being the only”right” one? Yet many churches have been incredibly intolerant throughout thousands of years by insisting that only they have the right understanding of God. So, remember that many liberals are also accused of being narrow minded, yet could care less about establishing their own faiths as being “the one true faith.” Liberals are also accused of attacking fundamentalists, but in reality, liberals only want to assert the fact that no one faith should ever be allowed to have both of its hands on the reins of power. Thus, in reality, conservatives are the ones who are on a witch-hunt aimed at attacking Democrats just because they challenge the self-righteous dogma that is being used for unconstitutional purposes by power hungry religions and Trump supporters.