Katie Herzog & Jamie Kirchick On Pride And The Alphabet People

The kind of conversation that happens all the time among the gays but you rarely hear in public.

  
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Katie Herzog, one of the last remaining lesbians in America, is the co-host of Blocked and Reported alongside her battered pod-wife, Jesse Singal. Gay neocon Jamie Kirchick is a Brookings fellow and the author of the forthcoming book Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington. If you’d like to hear a politically incorrect gay and lesbian conversation that would never be aired in the MSM, check it out.

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app” — which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. For three clips of my conversation with Jamie and Katie — on the deceitful propaganda surrounding the Stonewall narrative; on the problems with the “Q” in LGBTQRSTUV+; and on the concerns that puberty blockers might be blocking the self-actualization of gay kids — head over to our YouTube page.

After listening to last week’s episode, a reader writes:

What an amazing conversation with Michael Brendan Dougherty — truly epic! Toward the end of that marathon of a chat, you remarked that, interestingly, many in the anti-woke resistance are gay. From my perspective as a gay man, the wokers annoy the hell out of me because I feel they merely consider us part of what I like to call the Left’s “laundry list”: “people of color, Latinx, LGBTQIA+” … blah, blah, blah. Along with membership on the list comes the assumption of our supposed monolithic thought (from the woke and dominant media) solely based on our identity and biological makeup. I find it presumptive, paternalistic, and condescending, not to mention lazy. Your weekly podcast is a salvation to me against such maddening absurdity!

I hope you’re enjoying Ptown, and watch out for the Great White I read is lurking off shore …

I hope those sharks can finally reckon with their “whiteness”. This next reader also liked the MBD episode, “especially the last 20 minutes!”:  

I also visited Provincetown, inadvertently during Gay Pride week, with my wife and daughter in 2017. I knew nothing of its reputation, so it was quite the eyeopener.

Dina had a similar first impression:

Another reader has mixed feelings about the MBD episode:

Whether it be a sign of the nuanced discussion or my own intellectual hypocrisies, I found myself simultaneously nodding in agreement and wanting to hurl my earbuds at a wall.

During your brief tale about a past editor of The New Yorker attempting to manufacture a story about religion out of thin air, you casually delivered some genuine wisdom: “The whole point is to let go of what’s hot and to see what’s true.” Continuing a theme you discussed with Charles Murray, you lamented people’s inability to “transcend the cult of the current.”

Throughout the podcast with Michael, and in the past, you seem to mourn what’s lost as American society grows increasingly secular, implying that wokeism is a stand-in for religion in people’s lives. But I find that you haven’t illustrated a causal chain. Rather, you just see similar patterns of faith and of craving meaning, then more or less assume that wokeism is being plugged in after the loss of religion, rather like interchangeable modules for our brains or souls.

Perhaps. But I don’t think you’ve made the case, and it feels like your attention is sometimes so captured by the decline of religion that you spend far less time on other, arguably more contributory factors to this religious-like behavior. You seem to be arguing that the cure to this new religion is an old religion, whereas I might say that the cure for this illiberalism is simply more liberalism. The two can absolutely go hand in hand — but counter to your discussion, they need not. It might not be that we ought to resurrect religion, but that we need less certainty and more humility, less pedantry and more inquiry, regardless of where it wells up within us.

Michael referred to fewer kids in catechism, among other statistics about a decline in religion. Ignoring that Christianity has a wildly outsized influence on American politics, I’ll grant his basic point. But it’s of equal note that there are also fewer schools requiring civics, teaching rhetoric, exploring philosophy, encouraging debate, or practicing journalism. Today’s worship of STEM and financial management leaves little time for the disciplines that require humility as students iteratively and methodically work (or even just awkwardly stumble) away from “what’s hot” and toward truth.

Beautifully put. My worry is that liberalism itself relies on a Christian understanding of the unique individuality and worth of every individual, while CRT believes, as Robin DiAngelo reminds us in her new book, that “the ideology of individualism is foundational to white supremacy.” To adherents of CRT, liberalism is a manifestation of “white supremacy”. I wish more people could see how deeply corrosive that is to the stability and legitimacy of liberal democracy.

Merging some themes of the MBD episode with my column on Biden’s Catholicism, a reader writes:

Your discussion of abortion and the ability to keep it legal in our pluralist democratic society reminded me of the West Wing episode where the acting Catholic president had to uphold the death penalty but then turned directly to his priest for confession afterward. I expect this kind of multiple capacity viewpoint may enrage many of your readers, but as a lawyer it is something I am very familiar with. With politicians I expect it becomes even more important to keep track of what one does in their personal capacity and official one. 

As an agnostic, scientific, capitalistic Protestant, I found the direct discussions of Catholic social and dogmatic teaching especially interesting. You discuss at length what I would describe as equality of all before God. Does the existence of Church hierarchy not contradict this, though? One of my main problems with Catholicism is the idea that I cannot talk directly to God but must do so through other humans.  Certainly priests, the pope, and others spend more time thinking about religion than I do and so I pay attention to what they say — but follow without question, this I cannot do. 

I also think you do not put enough emphasis on the innate sexism of keeping women out of the church hierarchy. What am I missing here?  

Catholic Social Teaching also seems very anti-capitalist, almost to the point of being communist. Certainly, Christianity is focused on care of the poor, but there is the Bible verse “those who do not work do not eat” — how does Catholicism balance this? Can one be a capitalist anti-socialist/communist and a Catholic?  

I oppose an all-male priesthood, and do regard it as sexist. My aim was to show how a broader Catholic understanding is that men and women are completely equal, but different and complementary. On the other point, a priest’s pastoral advice is not definitive; we do not obey him as much as trust his good faith and believe in his power to represent the Almighty in absolving us of sin. He’s not like a minister in an evangelical church, whose patriarchal word is final. His unique sacramental powers are what put him in a different category. And that Bible verse mentioned by the reader, written by Saint Paul, is usually taken out of context.

Another reader takes issue with my use of “pagan” to describe Trump:

First, thank you for the lovely words last week about President Biden. You are at your best when your arguments and observations are grounded in the morality and compassion of your faith. I am sure someone has already thrown the rhetorical kitchen sink, couch, and all the bedroom furniture at you for your comments about how the Catholic church treats women. I need not throw more at you.

But, I ask that you please reconsider how you use the word “pagan.” You wrote, “I see something of God’s providence in the emergence of this unlikely and rather ordinary man, in the wake of an unhinged pagan who violated every single Christian commandment and concept every single day.”

Our 45th President is no pagan. Pagan is not the opposite of Christian. Pagan is another form of religion based on old spiritual concepts, many derived from nature. Wiccans have a moral foundation based in their spiritual practice. For example, Wiccans value nature and believe we should tread lightly. We value putting good into the world, believing it returns to us three fold in this lifetime. In that way, Wiccan practice is more immediate than Christianity; I won’t be judged in the afterlife, so the wheel of the Universe will turn and judge me right now!

You have written eloquently about what it is like to be a man. You have helped me understand how being male is different from being female. Humans are all the same yet at the same time we are all different. May I suggest you explore how being female is different from being male?

Wicca is centered around the divine feminine. I don’t think you have a lot of experience with that, so maybe that’s why it eludes you? You might be surprised by the number of lapsed Catholics and Anglicans who find a home among the Wiccans. There’s a lot of spiritual overlap.

Our 45th President thinks that having and using a moral compass is for losers. He embraces the list of deadly sins, and eschews the list of divine virtues. He is immoral and a lost soul and mentally unwell — not a pagan.

The church I was brought up in treated “Our Lady” as often indistinguishable from God the Father. Heresy of course, but the commanding role of Mary, the Mother of God, in the Catholic imagination is indeed a reflection on the divine feminine. So is devotion to Mary Magdalen, the first person to discover the Resurrection. And Jesus was wildly out of line with the patriarchy of his day: his friendship with Martha and Mary, for example, and his staying with those two unmarried women, was an outrage in his time. The importance of women in early Christianity is one of its unique characteristics for a monotheism.

This next reader takes some shots at the all-too-human Roman Catholic Church, currently engulfed in a horrific historical scandal in Canada, alongside other churches:

Over the years (decades?) of consuming the Dish, I have learned that once in a while I need to coast through a few paragraphs where the Church occupies your thoughts.  But I couldn’t coast this week. Up here in Canada, we are dealing with a genocide reckoning. The Catholic Church is deeply implicated in this state-sanctioned destruction, and in the unmarked burial of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of indigenous children. From infant tombs under monasteries through mother and baby homes and various pogroms over the centuries, I can think of no better institution to aid and abet this crime. And as of June 2021, the dioceses involved refused to open their records to scrutiny.

There are other recent headlines. Here in Calgary in 2012, the Bishop said that offering Gardisil in Catholic schools would “compromise the Church’s teachings on chastity.” Don’t have sex or you might get this preventable cancer. Nice. So forgive me for not going into your essay with a generous assessment of Catholicism’s institutional morality.

In my defense, I have not stinted over the years in holding the church to account for its malfeasance, past and present. This next reader, turning to the woke religious wars, doesn’t seem too worried by the anti-CRT legislation in many states:

I thought you might be interested in the language of the bill that was just passed by the Arizona Legislature related to critical race theory (page 86 here; relevant text is pasted below). I would be curious to know whether you think it is objectionable or not:

A. A TEACHER [et al.] MAY NOT USE PUBLIC MONIES FOR INSTRUCTION THAT PRESENTS ANY FORM OF BLAME OR JUDGMENT ON THE BASIS OF RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX.

B. A TEACHER [et al.] MAY NOT ALLOW INSTRUCTION IN OR MAKE PART OF A COURSE THE FOLLOWING CONCEPTS:

1. ONE RACE, ETHNIC GROUP OR SEX IS INHERENTLY MORALLY OR INTELLECTUALLY SUPERIOR TO ANOTHER RACE, ETHNIC GROUP OR SEX.

2. AN INDIVIDUAL, BY VIRTUE OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX, IS INHERENTLY RACIST, SEXIST OR OPPRESSIVE, WHETHER CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY.

3. AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD BE INVIDIOUSLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST OR RECEIVE ADVERSE TREATMENT SOLELY OR PARTLY BECAUSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX.

4. AN INDIVIDUAL'S MORAL CHARACTER IS DETERMINED BY THE INDIVIDUAL'S RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX.

5. AN INDIVIDUAL, BY VIRTUE OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX, BEARS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTIONS COMMITTED BY OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SAME RACE, ETHNIC GROUP OR SEX.

6. AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD FEEL DISCOMFORT, GUILT, ANGUISH OR ANY OTHER FORM OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS BECAUSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S RACE, ETHNICITY OR SEX.

7. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, MERITOCRACY OR TRAITS SUCH AS A HARD WORK ETHIC ARE RACIST OR SEXIST OR WERE CREATED BY MEMBERS OF A PARTICULAR RACE, ETHNIC GROUP OR SEX TO OPPRESS MEMBERS OF ANOTHER RACE, ETHNIC GROUP OR SEX.

Say there's a public school teacher or admin who is both a) sympathetic to your viewpoints on CRT, and b) too afraid of being labeled “racist” to push back against an effort to implement an objectionable CRT-styled program. The law might provide that person cover to push back against CRT: “I’m just concerned about following the letter of this law.” That person could even claim disagreement with the law or feign agreement with a CRT program … but still use the law as justification to push back against efforts to implement the program. 

I agree with you that banning a type of curriculum is problematic — but I was wondering if you think this AZ law is doing that, or if it sticks enough to the “non-discrimination” framework as to actually be productive. 

I’m just wary of the precedents and giving away the liberal high-ground in this way. I’d prefer non-woke teachers to sue the various schools and colleges for violating the Civil Rights Act. In fiat, CRT argues that the CRA made no difference to white supremacy at all. Another reader sends a CRT example from a K-12 public school system in Seattle:

Upon entering 6th grade, my daughter tested into advanced math, which meant she was doing 7th grade math that year and 8th grade math in 7th grade. So when she got to 8th grade, the assumption was that she and her cohort would be taking high-school level algebra.

That was until the principal declared they wouldn’t be offering algebra, so my daughter and others would be retaking 8th grade math. The muddled reasoning was articulated in edu-speak as part of the district’s “mission” to dismantle systems of racism. In this case, the “system” in need of dismantling was an advanced learning program, since these tended to be predominantly “white”.

So this was no longer conveying theory via copy-and-paste, Kendi-style PowerPoints; this was the real deal of putting theory into “practice” — operationalizing the dismantling of white supremacy via the racist “system” of accelerated learning.

After organizing the parents, and months of pressure and escalation to the district, the principal did relent and provide an algebra class for my daughter and others — with the very clear directive that they were not to use any additional time from the teacher outside of class time, since that was reserved for BIPOC students. 

Sue them for violating the CRA. I hope to write about the war on testing by the CRT left soon. Testing represents objectivity; its allows for accountability; it tells us something real. That’s why CRT needs to destroy it. The point is to remove any objective measurement so as to hide the big gap in achievement between, say, black kids and Asian kids — and then to drag the Asian kids’ achievements down, or punish them for being the wrong race.

One more reader email this week, from “An Anonymous (Scared Shitless) Academic”:

I am a long-time fan and a subscriber, as well as a tenured faculty member at a university in your general neighborhood. I was pained to read in this week’s Dish about the pushback you are receiving for your “obsession" with CRT. 

Andrew, your efforts to uncover the distinctly illiberal tenets of CRT have been so welcome. One of the most chilling effects of CRT on college campuses is that everyone is scared shitless to be caught wrong-footed. There is no discussion of its weaknesses, nor of its costs. Those of us who have been bothered by CRT have been afraid to discuss it outside a narrow circle of friends and family. I break out in a sweat just thinking of trying to have an open conversation about my concerns in a faculty meeting. 

So I cannot tell you how refreshing it has been to read the Dish after years of seeing CRT pushing forward and conquering all the (admittedly low) high ground on campus. You are right to call out CRT as a threat to liberalism, and it is especially threatening in higher education. It is a potentially fatal challenge to any claims to objective truth in the social sciences. Objectivity is simply impossible when everything can be seen and evaluated primarily through the lens of group identity.

We must never forget that CRT is at its core also a power play. However, my sense is that because the pipeline of African-Americans in academia is very small, even in doctoral programs, this power play doesn’t seem to empower the group it should most benefit: African-Americans who have actually suffered from the malignant legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and lingering racism. 

Meanwhile, good thinking, good debate, and intellectual honesty are shoved aside. I have seen faculty colleagues thrown under the bus by a university administration so scared to be accused of causing offense that it surrenders good sense. Allegations of microaggressions throw any pretense of administrative neutrality out the window. Required training programs for faculty are thinly camouflaged indoctrination produced by a supremely well-paid cadre of diversity, equity and inclusion consultants and administrators. New hires and administrative promotions are made primarily on the basis of racial and gender categories. All the while, the campus media and the Chronicle of Higher Education, like the mainstream media, uncritically push the line that CRT is just a Trump/Fox/GOP creation. 

Please please please do not listen to the Dish’s dissenters. Continue to find ways to expose the dangers posed by CRT and to encourage debate about its costs. Most of all, thank you for standing up, and for helping those of us who were too blind to put a name to what we are seeing: illiberalism masquerading as progressive truth.

I’ll keep on. We’ll air other topics. But the war on liberal democracy requires a vigilant defense. You can’t defend it any more in the mainstream media, which is now captured by CRT-believers. That’s really why I was fired by New York Magazine. So that makes this Substack more, not less, vital for airing a debate smothered elsewhere by tribal loyalties and the terror of being called a “racist.”