An Existential Conflict
It’s difficult to believe, but at one time left-wing politics involved serious discussion by serious people about serious topics such as the nationalisation of industry, union rights and working conditions, or the creation of new towns and transport links. Earnest people got into the complexities of big issues. Today woke left-wing politics seems to embody catastrophic reactions to every cause.
If you don’t think a woman can have a penis, you are murdering trans children. If you drive a petrol car, you are causing the oceans to boil. If you don’t want biological men to compete in women’s sports, you are participating in genocide. These may be crazy, but are reactions we have all witnessed in the media.
Reason has fled and the woke brook no debate because all opposed to leftie woke campaigns are ipso facto wicked, hateful people who want to drown polar bears, put drag artists into zoos and re-establish apartheid. Every issue is an eleventh-hour conflict between the woke forces of good and the monstrous evil of normality.
Books critical of gender ideology have been removed from public view by staff at council libraries in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, and stashed out of sight in an off-limits storage space. Helen Joyce, whose work has been hidden away, responded: ‘They think it’s incumbent upon them to educate those they think of as racists, homophobes, colonialists, and transphobes.’
It used to be the stuff of cartoons, the earnest Christian with a sandwich board proclaiming ‘The End Is Nigh’. Today it is the commonplace cry of our media, politicians and establishment elites. The progressive left has taken on the form of a doomsday cult where everything is a catastrophe or about to become one. We are about to face a climate Armageddon and the planet has only a few years left unless we take immediate action and return to medieval modes of transport.
The present woke insanity lives and grows on fear. This goes beyond big issues like the fear which has changed ‘climate change’ to ‘climate crisis’ and colours weather maps red, purple and black: it even drills down to children’s books. Roald Dahl’s works have been bowdlerised as the language is thought ‘harmful’ to readers. For the racially obsessed, some of Dahl’s words are culturally insensitive. So, in The BFG, the Big Friendly Giant no longer wears a ‘black’ coat and characters don’t turn ‘white with fear’.
Universities treat their students as fragile children liable to be terrified by ‘microaggressions’. These are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but nonetheless are thought of as a form of violence. Microaggressions can be so subtle that neither the perpetrator or victim are aware of them: they have to be taught how to recognise them in order that they can be offended.
Speakers are no-platformed and professors are even sacked in the name of student safety. Students embrace their fragility and play up to this coddling. Law students at Harvard asked their professors not to teach rape law or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in ‘that violates the law’) in case it caused them distress. Perhaps someone should explain to these trembling souls that the law involves dealing with people who sometimes do naughty things.
Leftist activists imagine that science succumbs to language and that by changing the language used to define sex, they can change reality. According to their terminology, the sex with which a person identifies is that person’s sex, regardless of his or her innate physical characteristics. They assert that an intact male who identifies as a woman is an actual woman and to deny this is hateful prejudice. They think that chromosomes have been harnessed to the white-normative cis-gender patriarchy, or something. It doesn’t really matter, because their delusional world is retreating from reality into a land of wishful thinking where what they want to be true is what has to be served up to them, however bizarre and unscientific it may be.
The Real World Intrudes
Reality can’t be wished away. A thorough 30-year Swedish study found that people who underwent sex-reassignment surgery had a suicide rate 19 times higher than their peers. The best studies indicate that when children with gender dysphoria are given time to process their internal conflicts without puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, 80 to 95 per cent of them will naturally embrace their bodily sex.
One of the most widely used and effective treatments for depression and anxiety is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This is a talking therapy which helps people to adjust harmful ways of thinking. It works on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a negative cycle.
The way out of the negative cycle is to adjust your negative thinking. Yet many prescriptions of woke ideology are the exact opposite of what cognitive behavioural therapy recommends for patients with anxiety or depression. For example, CBT advises patients to avoid catastrophising or seeing everything in the worst possible light. It teaches the patient to reject emotional reasoning and encourages them to ‘face their fears’. Woke ideology reverses this. It tells young people that they should always trust their feelings, that even innocuous words can harm them, and that the best way to deal with sources of anxiety is to run away to a safe space and avoid them completely.
There Is Hope
The constantly offended activists are looking for meaning, for a purposeful role in life that validates their existence. They look for something to believe in, a higher calling, a vision of something better. Not having a belief in God, they find authenticity in the woke causes promoted in their colleges and social media. This leads idealistic young people into a downward spiral of fear and the rejection of reason and reality.
If they can’t face CBT, perhaps a prescription of taking John 8:32 three times a day before meals would help: ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’
Campbell Campbell-Jack is a retired Church of Scotland minister. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.