Memories of eugenics president erased from USC campus

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Well, maybe.


The past week has seen statues and monuments whose subjects were linked to racism defaced or destroyed in the UK, UK and Australia. The memory cleansing movement also reached the University of Southern California (USC), with a slightly different twist.

The USC President, Carol Folt, swiftly removed the name and bust of her one of her predecessors, Rufus Von KleinSmid, from a prominent historic building on the campus. She was responding to years of agitation to expunge memorials to Von KleinSmid.

In his day, Von KleinSmid was a prominent figure in the United States. He began his career as a professor of education and psychology. In 1914 he became president of the University of Arizona, and moved from there to USC in 1921. He was president of USC for 25 years until 1947.

On his watch, USC experienced a huge expansion and slowly became the major university that it is today. Von KleinSmid was awarded a National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal in 1942 and was honoured by 20 national governments for his achievements.

Unfortunately, USC’s president was also an ardent eugenicist. He co-founded the Human Betterment Foundation in 1928, a Pasadena-based think-tank which promoted compulsory sterilization for the improvement of the species. Dr Folt described him as “an active supporter of eugenics [whose] writings on the subject are at direct odds with USC’s multicultural community and our mission of diversity and inclusion.”

There’s no doubt that Von KleinSmid’s views are not acceptable in polite company nowadays. A brief glance at a pamphlet which he wrote in 1913 yields such gems as:

We must all agree that those who, in the nature of the case, can do little else than pass on to their offsprings the defects which make themselves burdens to society, have no ethical right to parenthood. To deny them this privilege is, in the language of John Harris, “no infringement of liberty, it is a curtailment of unbridled license which is a disgrace to our civilization (?) and to our vaunted Christianity. ”

Or

The average worth of the individual to society is constantly lowered because of both the lack of productiveness among the worthy, and the fecundity of the defective. There can be no question of the outcome of the tragedy when society must depend finally upon an average ability too feeble to stand upon its own feet. It is estimated that one million of our population are incarcerated in public institutions, while three times that many, through their own incapability, pull a dead weight against society’s progress.

So there’s no point in denying that Von KleinSmid was a eugenicist, although he could argue in his defense that progressive American intellectuals before World War II shared his views — people like birth control activist Margaret Sanger, African-American rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, botanist Luther Burbank, President Theodore Roosevelt, Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr and others too numerous to list here.

This is just a small incident in the wider movement to purge the US of racism. But it raises a few questions. Von KleinSmid’s sentiments are echoed every day by gynaecologists advising pregnant mothers to abort their Down syndrome child. In fact, a discrete investigation at the USC Keck School of Medicine might be in order if the university wants to purge itself of eugenics.

Isn’t it better to ask how eugenics has evolved rather than to expunge it from the public record? And damnatio memoriae (the Roman habit of rubbing out inscriptions and beheading statues) seems an odd way to obliterate interest in eugenics, which actually seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.

As we all have heard many times, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Interestingly, this is the best-known maxim of the Spanish-American philosopher, novelist and Harvard professor George Santayana – who was — yes, you guessed it — a eugenicist! “Some races are obviously superior to others,” he wrote in his highly praised five-volume 1906 book The Life of Reason. It figures: all that remembering stuff corrupts the soul.

So what do we do now?

Here’s a suggestion. Forget it; forget everything. Just make it up as we go along. That way, when we do end up repeating the atrocities of the past, no one will notice.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet More by Michael Cook

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Harry Potter’ author explains why trans demands are bogus

The author of the Harry Potter series has ignited a firestorm on Twitter over her ‘transphobic’ views.


Skepticism about allowing teenagers to transition to a different gender came from an unexpected source lastweek: J.K. Rowling, the author of the fabulously successful Harry Potter series. She had been provoked by a Twitterstorm over her tweet mocking a Devex headline, “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate”. “People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she wrote. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” She published an extraordinarly clear and informative open letter on her website, which we are republishing here.

This isn’t an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity.

For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what were deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

My interest in trans issues pre-dated Maya’s case by almost two years, during which I followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely. I’ve met trans people, and read sundry books, blogs and articles by trans people, gender specialists, intersex people, psychologists, safeguarding experts, social workers and doctors, and followed the discourse online and in traditional media. On one level, my interest in this issue has been professional, because I’m writing a crime series, set in the present day, and my fictional female detective is of an age to be interested in, and affected by, these issues herself, but on another, it’s intensely personal, as I’m about to explain.

All the time I’ve been researching and learning, accusations and threats from trans activists have been bubbling in my Twitter timeline. This was initially triggered by a ‘like’. When I started taking an interest in gender identity and transgender matters, I began screenshotting comments that interested me, as a way of reminding myself what I might want to research later. On one occasion, I absent-mindedly ‘liked’ instead of screenshotting. That single ‘like’ was deemed evidence of wrongthink, and a persistent low level of harassment began.

Months later, I compounded my accidental ‘like’ crime by following Magdalen Berns on Twitter. Magdalen was an immensely brave young feminist and lesbian who was dying of an aggressive brain tumour. I followed her because I wanted to contact her directly, which I succeeded in doing. However, as Magdalen was a great believer in the importance of biological sex, and didn’t believe lesbians should be called bigots for not dating trans women with penises, dots were joined in the heads of twitter trans activists, and the level of social media abuse increased.

I mention all this only to explain that I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called cunt and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them.

What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive. They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding. They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well.

What are TERFs?

I’d stepped back from Twitter for many months both before and after tweeting support for Maya, because I knew it was doing nothing good for my mental health. I only returned because I wanted to share a free children’s book during the pandemic. Immediately, activists who clearly believe themselves to be good, kind and progressive people swarmed back into my timeline, assuming a right to police my speech, accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF.

If you didn’t already know – and why should you? – ‘TERF’ is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who’s vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms. Ironically, radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary – they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.

But accusations of TERFery have been sufficient to intimidate many people, institutions and organisations I once admired, who’re cowering before the tactics of the playground. ‘They’ll call us transphobic!’ ‘They’ll say I hate trans people!’ What next, they’ll say you’ve got fleas? Speaking as a biological woman, a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair (which is doubtless literally possible, according to the kind of people who argue that clownfish prove humans aren’t a dimorphic species).

So why am I doing this? Why speak up? Why not quietly do my research and keep my head down?

Well, I’ve got five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism, and deciding I need to speak up.

Firstly, I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children. Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women. It’s been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.

The second reason is that I’m an ex-teacher and the founder of a children’s charity, which gives me an interest in both education and safeguarding. Like many others, I have deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having on both.

The third is that, as a much-banned author, I’m interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump.

Protecting young women

The fourth is where things start to get truly personal. I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility. Some say they decided to transition after realising they were same-sex attracted, and that transitioning was partly driven by homophobia, either in society or in their families.

Most people probably aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t, until I started researching this issue properly – that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment. Autistic girls are hugely overrepresented in their numbers.

The same phenomenon has been seen in the US. In 2018,  American physician and researcher Lisa Littman set out to explore it. In an interview, she said:

‘Parents online were describing a very unusual pattern of transgender-identification where multiple friends and even entire friend groups became transgender-identified at the same time. I would have been remiss had I not considered social contagion and peer influences as potential factors.’

Littman mentioned Tumblr, Reddit, Instagram and YouTube as contributing factors to Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, where she believes that in the realm of transgender identification ‘youth have created particularly insular echo chambers.’

Her paper caused a furore. She was accused of bias and of spreading misinformation about transgender people, subjected to a tsunami of abuse and a concerted campaign to discredit both her and her work. The journal took the paper offline and re-reviewed it before republishing it. However, her career took a similar hit to that suffered by Maya Forstater. Lisa Littman had dared challenge one of the central tenets of trans activism, which is that a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation. Nobody, the activists insisted, could ever be persuaded into being trans.

The argument of many current trans activists is that if you don’t let a gender dysphoric teenager transition, they will kill themselves. In an article explaining why he resigned from the Tavistock (an NHS gender clinic in England) psychiatrist Marcus Evans stated that claims that children will kill themselves if not permitted to transition do not ‘align substantially with any robust data or studies in this area. Nor do they align with the cases I have encountered over decades as a psychotherapist.’

The writings of young trans men reveal a group of notably sensitive and clever people.  The more of their accounts of gender dysphoria I’ve read, with their insightful descriptions of anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred, the more I’ve wondered whether, if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge. I struggled with severe OCD as a teenager. If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred.

When I read about the theory of gender identity, I remember how mentally sexless I felt in youth. I remember Colette’s description of herself as a ‘mental hermaphrodite’ and Simone de Beauvoir’s words: ‘It is perfectly natural for the future woman to feel indignant at the limitations posed upon her by her sex. The real question is not why she should reject them: the problem is rather to understand why she accepts them.’

As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgement that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens. Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are.

I want to be very clear here: I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people, although I’m also aware through extensive research that studies have consistently shown that between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria. Again and again I’ve been told to ‘just meet some trans people.’ I have: in addition to a few younger people, who were all adorable, I happen to know a self-described transsexual woman who’s older than I am and wonderful. Although she’s open about her past as a gay man, I’ve always found it hard to think of her as anything other than a woman, and I believe (and certainly hope) she’s completely happy to have transitioned. Being older, though, she went through a long and rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation. The current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass. A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren’t aware of this.

Misogyny ascendant

We’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced. Back in the 80s, I imagined that my future daughters, should I have any, would have it far better than I ever did, but between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now. From the leader of the free world’s long history of sexual assault accusations and his proud boast of ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, to the incel (‘involuntarily celibate’) movement that rages against women who won’t give them sex, to the trans activists who declare that TERFs need punching and re-educating, men across the political spectrum seem to agree: women are asking for trouble. Everywhere, women are being told to shut up and sit down, or else.

I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class. The hundreds of emails I’ve received in the last few days prove this erosion concerns many others just as much.  It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.

But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.

On a personal note

Which brings me to the fifth reason I’m deeply concerned about the consequences of the current trans activism.

I’ve been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember. I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn’t want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too. However, a short while ago, I asked her how she’d feel if I were publicly honest about that part of my life, and she encouraged me to go ahead.

I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.

I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I’m now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be. However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don’t disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you’ve made. My perennial jumpiness is a family joke – and even I know it’s funny – but I pray my daughters never have the same reasons I do for hating sudden loud noises, or finding people behind me when I haven’t heard them approaching.

If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you’d find solidarity and kinship. I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker.

I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I’ve outlined. Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk. Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who’ve been abused by men.

So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.

On Saturday morning, I read that the Scottish government is proceeding with its controversial gender recognition plans, which will in effect mean that all a man needs to ‘become a woman’ is to say he’s one. To use a very contemporary word, I was ‘triggered’. Ground down by the relentless attacks from trans activists on social media, when I was only there to give children feedback about pictures they’d drawn for my book under lockdown, I spent much of Saturday in a very dark place inside my head, as memories of a serious sexual assault I suffered in my twenties recurred on a loop. That assault happened at a time and in a space where I was vulnerable, and a man capitalised on an opportunity.  I couldn’t shut out those memories and I was finding it hard to contain my anger and disappointment about the way I believe my government is playing fast and loose with womens and girls’ safety.

Late on Saturday evening, scrolling through children’s pictures before I went to bed, I forgot the first rule of Twitter – never, ever expect a nuanced conversation – and reacted to what I felt was degrading language about women. I spoke up about the importance of sex and have been paying the price ever since. I was transphobic, I was a cunt, a bitch, a TERF, I deserved cancelling, punching and death. You are Voldemort said one person, clearly feeling this was the only language I’d understand.

Defying trans activists

It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There’s joy, relief and safety in conformity. As Simone de Beauvoir also wrote, “… without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”

Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They’re afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence.

But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is.

The one thing that gives me hope is that the women who can protest and organise, are doing so, and they have some truly decent men and trans people alongside them. Political parties seeking to appease the loudest voices in this debate are ignoring women’s concerns at their peril. In the UK, women are reaching out to each other across party lines, concerned about the erosion of their hard-won rights and widespread intimidation. None of the gender critical women I’ve talked to hates trans people; on the contrary. Many of them became interested in this issue in the first place out of concern for trans youth, and they’re hugely sympathetic towards trans adults who simply want to live their lives, but who’re facing a backlash for a brand of activism they don’t endorse. The supreme irony is that the attempt to silence women with the word ‘TERF’ may have pushed more young women towards radical feminism than the movement’s seen in decades.

The last thing I want to say is this. I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one. I’m extraordinarily fortunate; I’m a survivor, certainly not a victim. I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.

This letter, originally titled “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues“, has been republished from her website.

COLUMN BY

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is best-known as the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007. The enduringly popular adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione have gone on… More by J.K. Rowling

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: MIAMI, FL — Muslim cleric says Christianity responsible for riots and looting, Islam is the solution

Yes, nothing could be clearer than that the rioters and looters are deeply committed Christians. In reality, of course, this is wildly absurd, but Kablawi is not interested in facts. He is interested in reinforcing the idea, increasingly widespread nowadays, that the US, its traditions, its culture, its heritage, its dominant religion, are at fault for all the ills in the country and the world today, and that the solution to all our problems is Islam. There are many non-Muslims, ignorant of the true history of the West and filled with the anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Western propaganda that our colleges and universities relentlessly pump into them, who will be susceptible to this.

“Miami Imam Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi: Christianity Is Responsible For The Looting In America; Darwin Called To Exterminate Dark-Skinned People He Saw As Half-Humans; Muslims Should Not Attend BLM Protests,” MEMRI, June 5, 2020:

In a Friday, June 5, 2020 sermon delivered at the North Miami Islamic Center, which is known also as Masjid As-Sunna An-Nabawiyya North Miami, Imam Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi said that he is saddened by Muslims who participate in Black Lives Matter protests because “every life matters.” He said that Christianity is the main problem in America and the West today since Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins and that as a result, they believe that they can commit crimes such as looting and repent for them later. He stated that the solution to America’s problems is Islam. Later in the sermon, Imam Kablawi said that according to Darwinism, the European race must “exterminate the savage race” of people with bigger lips and darker skin. The sermon, titled “This Is How We Should Look at the George Floyd Issue as Muslims,” was streamed live on the mosque’s Facebook page. Dr. Kablawi, who is a dentist and originally from Jordan, had written an article in Ghurabaa Islamic Magazine in 2010, saying that the Jews incurred the anger of God. In November 2019, Salman Rashid, who is affiliated with the North Miami Islamic Center, was arrested for plotting an ISIS attack against the deans of Broward College and Miami Dade College.

Imam Dr. Fadi Yousef Kablawi: “You look at Muslims going to support the cause of Black Lives Matter – every life matters! Every life matters. And it hurts when you see Muslims raising signs like that. Every life matters. If you are going to stand against injustice, you stand against injustice that could be committed against every individual.

[…]

“That is the very problem I see in America – Christianity. Seriously. And Europe is not any better. Christianity – the way it got corrupted – is the main reason for what we see happening in this country. Christianity.

[…]

“[Jesus] – that’s their god, as they claim – he was killed. But he was not killed for a bad reason, he was killed for your sins. So it does not matter what you do, as much looting as you do – at the end of the week, you are forgiven.

[…]

“Go [to church] on Sunday and confess or repent and you are good. As long as you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, you are fine. You tell me how such a religion will create good citizens.

[…]

“So what’s the solution for this aspect? Islam. Islam.

[…]

“Christianity – we already established – is the cause of the problem. The way they implemented it… But Christianity – the pure, original one that came from Allah – is Islam. It is the religion of Allah. But the way they changed it and corrupted it is the [reason] they are now suffering.

[…]

“[Charles Darwin] said that the Europeans, this civilized race – [in order for them] to be able to continue to improve and to become more civilized – they must exterminate the savage race. That is Darwinism. So the fact that people have bigger lips, darker skin, or this… And he believes that we come from monkeys… Your father is a monkey, not my father! Your dad is a monkey, and I refuse for my dad to be a monkey or to admit that. Who is happy to say his dad is an ape, are you crazy? But anyway, the fact that people still have big lips and all that, they are closer – that’s what he says… They are in a stage between humans and beasts – animals. I’m telling you brothers. This is Darwin.”

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

HHS Scraps Obama Rules on Gender Identity, Abortion

Federal health officials announced a final rule Friday scrapping an Obama-era regulation that forced medical workers to perform abortions despite their religious beliefs.

The Obama administration’s 2016 regulation, already vacated by a court ruling, also redefined sex-based discrimination in health care to include questions of gender identity.

The old rule would have imposed nearly $3 billion in costs on the economy, the Department of Health and Human Services said in announcing the change. Prompted by the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the rule had not been implemented after being halted in court.

When Congress passed the Obamacare law in 2010, it included a section broadly prohibiting discrimination among health insurance plans.


The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>


Under the  Obama administration, HHS tried to apply that provision to both abortion and gender identity in the 2016 rule. The rule defined gender identity as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”

The real-world effects of prioritizing gender identity in health care became clear after a 32-year-old pregnant woman went to the emergency room complaining of abdominal pains and claiming to be a man.

The attending nurse treated the patient as a man, based on the electronic medical record, and the end result was a stillborn baby in a case first reported by The New England Journal of Medicine in May 2019.

“That’s one example where confusion over what the meaning of sex is—whether it’s based on biology or based on gender identity—can have some real-world and in this case tragic consequences. That’s why clarity is so important,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, told The Daily Signal.

“This [new] rule will establish clarity over the confusion that was unleashed by the Obama administration’s previous definition, which included male, female, neither, both or some combination, which is very difficult to administer in a health care setting.”

The new rule will enforce the provision by returning to the government’s interpretation of sexual discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word “sex” as male or female and as determined by biology, HHS said.

The 2016 regulation did not recognize sexual orientation as a protected characteristic, and the Trump administration’s rule doesn’t change that.

“The Obama administration itself thought that was a bridge too far. And this final rule leaves undisturbed that judgment from the Obama era,” Severino said. “So if people take issue with that, they should also take issue with the Obama administration as well.”

The Trump administration’s HHS says it will continue to enforce federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex.

The final rule keeps a section that ensures physical access for individuals with disabilities to health care facilities, as well as communication technology to assist those who have impaired vision or hearing.

Regulated entities still will have to provide written assurances of compliance to HHS.

“Truth matters and words have meaning,” said Ryan T. Anderson, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, asserting in a written statement that the Trump administration was right to rescind the previous rules:

In addition to being an unlawful abuse of agency power, these rules would have caused serious harm. They would have required doctors, hospitals, and health care organizations to act in ways contrary to their best medical judgments, their consciences, and the physical realities of their patients, or face steep fines and become easy targets for unreasonable and costly lawsuits.

All people should be treated with dignity and respect. Therefore, federal law should not outlaw reasonable disagreements about the best medical care for gender dysphoria. Nor should federal law force anyone to violate their pro-life conscience or the privacy and safety of others in the name of political correctness.

The revised rule provides protections for non-English speakers, including the provision of translators and interpreters.

However, the final rule relieves Americans of approximately $2.9 billion in regulatory costs over five years by eliminating a mandate for regulated health care entities to insert “notice and taglines” to patients and other consumers in 15 or more languages in almost every mailing. Those costs got passed down to consumers.

In December 2016, a federal court preliminarily enjoined the Obama administration’s attempt to redefine sex-based discrimination. The court said the provision likely contradicted existing civil rights law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

In October 2019, a second federal court agreed. That same month, the initial federal court vacated the Obama HHS rule and remanded the provisions it found unlawful back to the department.

The court action stemmed in part from an Obama administration  rule regarding abortion. Existing laws said doctors and nurses can’t be compelled to perform an abortion if it would violate thier religious beliefs or conscience.

“Other federal laws prohibit discrimination against health care providers who refuse to participate in abortion,” Severino said. “If not performing abortion is sex discrimination, then of course you have clear conflicts of federal law protecting conscience.”

Also Friday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development began to undo an Obama administration regulation by proposing a rule to allow men’s and women’s shelters to make their own sex-specific housing policies.

“The Trump administration is also correct to unwind an Obama-era housing regulation that imposed a gender identity mandate at the expense of privacy and safety,” Anderson said. “The proposed HUD rule allows shelters to determine their own policy on single-sex housing, thus protecting female-only spaces.”

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Trans Teen Revolution


Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Did “Roe” Really Recant?

A new FX documentary, AKA Jane Roe, raises many questions about the real Jane Roe.

Jane Roe, who pseudonymously sought an abortion in Texas, was at the heart of the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. She claimed she had been impregnated in a gang-rape.

In the mid-1980s, Roe was revealed to be Norma McCorvey.

In the mid-1990s, she stunned the world by professing to have become a Christian and an opponent of abortion. She then claimed she had never been raped at all.

And now comes a documentary in which she, in the final year of her life, apparently claims that her switch to the pro-life position was all an act, for which she was paid.

It should be noted she was paid to appear in the FX documentary. Nick Sweeney, the documentary producer, has made movies about sex robots and girls becoming “boys.”

The Daily Beast reports on perhaps the most critical scene in the FX documentary:

“This is my deathbed confession,” [McCorvey] chuckles, sitting in a chair in her nursing home room, on oxygen. Sweeney asks McCorvey, “Did [the evangelicals] use you as a trophy?” “Of course,” she replies. “I was the Big Fish.” “Do you think you would say that you used them?” Sweeney responds. “Well,” says McCorvey, “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say.” She even gives an example of her scripted anti-abortion lines. “I’m a good actress,” she points out. “Of course, I’m not acting now.” 

In addition, she is alleged to have said that she didn’t really care if a woman got an abortion. This doesn’t seem to fit the picture of the reborn Norma. However, in the big picture of things, the preview appears to contradict the vast majority of her words and deeds, from the time of her conversion in 1995 to her death in 2017. She even unsuccessfully sought to have the Supreme Court overturn Roe since it was all based on lies.

As reports came out last week about this disturbing new documentary, many prolife leaders that knew Norma McCorvey personally have spoken out to say that this is not the Norma McCorvey they have known all these years—nor does it represent who she truly was.

Cheryl Sullenger is the Senior Policy Advisor for the activist pro-life group, Operation Rescue—a group that played a critical role in McCorvey’s stated conversions to Christianity and to the pro-life position.

Cheryl told me: “I knew Norma personally….I have seen her in unguarded moments. She was a person that was a bit rough around the edges, but that never bothered me. If she was in a mood, she could say things that were controversial or even shocking, but I can attest that she was always pro-life.”

On my radio show, Sullenger added that the claim McCorvey received money from the prolife movement proves nothing. Receiving honoraria for speaking engagements is a common practice, no matter one’s politics.

Furthermore, Norma claims in the FX documentary that they (pro-lifers/the evangelicals/the Catholics) told her what to say. That can sound worse than it was. Sullenger noted that Norma had little education and she was not a polished public speaker. Thus, in various venues in which she spoke, speech writers crafted the copy she read. That type of thing happens all the time, again, no matter one’s politics.

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, knew Norma McCorvey for 22 years. He said about her, “Her desire to protect children in the womb was no act.” On my radio show, Father Pavone noted that the documentary interview was in May 2016, but she died in February 2017. This was no “deathbed confession.” He also noted that Norma was unpredictable. You never knew what would come out of her mouth.

He notes that the producers of the FX film never asked him for an interview, despite how close he was to Norma. Father Pavone, who preached her funeral, even spoke with Norma on the day she died (by phone), and he says she told him to keep up the fight on behalf of the unborn.

I also spoke with Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director, whose dramatic pro-life conversion is described in her book (with Cindy Lambert) and movie, Unplanned. She said pro-lifers should not be distracted by this recent controversy: “Stay focused on the goal—abortion is wrong no matter what.”

Only God knows the heart. Norma McCorvey was a fiery, unpredictable woman with rough edges. But regardless of who was telling the truth between the Norma of 1995 and the Norma of 2016 (in that one interview), the realities of abortion, legalized in her court case, do not change. Abortion unjustly takes an innocent human life, and does incredible damage to the mother. That’s not a matter of changing opinions or the passage of time. That’s a fact.

©All rights reserved.

Disciples of the Gospel of Democrats and Fake News Media

Dear American Family. For decades, my black family and friends have viewed me as the weirdo who votes for Republicans.

At our annual family Christmas gathering a few years before he died, my dad, Dr. Rev Lloyd E. Marcus, instructed them to follow me as the new leader. I heard through the grapevine that most of them disapprove of my politics. At family events, I am pleasant and keep conversations non-political. Still, they read my articles posted on social media and the internet.

The vast majority of my family and friends profess Christianity. And yet, everything I have written and told them on occasion about Democrats’ anti-biblical agenda has not broken their loyalty to the party.

They ignore the fact that their party worships Planned Parenthood which targets black babies and profits greatly from selling dead-baby body parts. Recently, Democrats have been pushing legislation to abort healthy babies after they are born.

They ignore that fact the Democrats want open borders for illegals who take jobs from blacks. They ignore the fact that Democrats are cramming the LGBTQ agenda down our throats. Democrats want schools to orchestrate sex-change surgery and abortions without parental knowledge or consent. They ignore the fact that Democrats seek to legalize 12 new perversions which include pedophilia and bestiality. How can anyone who professes Christianity support Democrats’ anti-biblical agenda? Remember the convention at which Democrats banned God from their platform

I learned that relatives are posting propaganda on Facebook in support of the George Floyd rioters. Despite living successful racism-free lives, they have bought Democrats’ and fake news medias’ absurd lie that America is a hellhole of racism where blacks are routinely murdered by police. This made me sad and a bit lonely.

At the root of my sadness is the fact that my black family and friends are disciples of the Gospel of Democrats and Fake News Media. Whatever these two wicked entities tell them, they believe. God says allowing someone or something to trump His word is idolatry.

Eagles fly alone. “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Christians are martyred around the world. Therefore, complaining about deceived fellow blacks disapproving of my politics is hardly worth mentioning.

Still, it is extremely frustrating that facts nor commonsense seem to penetrate my family and friends blind loyalty to the far-left-extremist, hate-generating, anti-Christian, and anti-American Democratic Party.

They perceive everything they see and hear on TV from Democrats and fake news media as the gospel truth. For example. They believed the lie that catching covid-19 was a death sentence. They stayed at home, wore masks, and trashed anyone who did not. I told them that covid-19 has a 98% recovery rate. Once again, I was viewed as an Uncle Tom, siding with mean Republicans who want to reopen America which will cause a Ga-zillion Americans, mostly black, to die. By the way, a 65-year-old relative recovered from covid-19.

Democrats and fake news media are exploiting the tragic death of George Floyd in an attempt to stop Trump’s reelection. Insidiously, they are overwhelming the airwaves with lies about Trump, white America, and police. My family and friends are embracing every lie as a gospel. Presenting them with facts and data has had no effect in changing their minds. The Bible speaks of those who prefer to believe lies rather than truth.

Families across America are dealing with the same frustrating situation that I am challenged with. Their kids have been indoctrinated by extreme leftist, anti-American, and anti-Christian Hollywood celebs and fake news media. How do you break their brain-dead zombie control of young idealistic minds? I believe the answer is prayer and faithfully continuing to tell youths the truth about issues.

God’s word promises, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all.” (Galatians 6:9)

Outrageously, ANTIFA terrorists are demanding that whites kneel in worship to Black Lives Matter, begging forgiveness for being born white. Folks, this is evil beyond belief.

We must stand together as Americans while praying for God’s strength to be like Daniel in the Bible. Tell the Democrats, fake news media, ANTIFA, and Black Lives Matter that we “ain’t” kneeling nor worshiping their vile false gods of social-justice, socialism and communism.

©All rights reserved.

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These States Reopened a Month Ago After COVID-19 Shutdowns. Here’s What Happened.

Among states that reopened their economies about a month ago, most logged about the same number of  COVID-19 cases, though some had more cases and others saw a decline.

The closest thing to a discernible pattern is that Western and Midwestern states performed better than Southern states in terms of fewer new cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Even there, though, some Southern states saw a decline or remained steady in the number of COVID-19 cases, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The increase in new diagnosed cases offers only a glimpse of how each state is doing.


The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

What’s the best way for America to reopen and return to business? The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, a project of The Heritage Foundation, assembled America’s top thinkers to figure that out. So far, it has made more than 260 recommendations. Learn more here>>.


In 47 states, hospitalization for COVID-19 either has been flat or has decreased, said Dr. Lee Gross, president of Docs 4 Patient Care, a health care advocacy group.

As testing expands, the number of confirmed cases will increase, Gross said, and the most notable measurement is of serious cases.

“The key is not to focus on just the number of cases, but how seriously ill people are,” Gross, who practices family medicine in North Port, Florida, told The Daily Signal. “There are many diseases that don’t shut down the economy for months.”

The only three states with increasing hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, he said.

Wisconsin reopened its economy May 8 and Rhode Island reopened May 13. Hawaii didn’t do so until May 31, so there may not be a clear pattern.

Wisconsin, which came back the earliest of the three, had the biggest increase, Gross said.

‘Different Trends After Reopening’

The states seeing patients test positive for the coronavirus at a rate of 10% or higher are Alabama, Nebraska, and Virginia, Gross said, adding that hospitalization rates are flat.

It is difficult to say why some states appear to be doing better than others, said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We are definitely seeing different trends after reopening for about a month in different locations,” Tolbert told The Daily Signal. “I’m not sure we know the why.”

A dozen states began phased reopenings in late April, according to Stateline, a project of the Pew Research Center that monitors state governments.

Alaska, which has had 467 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led the way in reopening April 24.

Montana, with 523 total cases and 17 deaths, followed the next day. Then Colorado.

Mississippi was the first Southern state to reopen, on April 27. Three days later, it was followed by Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, according to Pew.

Kaiser Family Foundation measured new cases in states based on a seven-day rolling average on May 5, by which time a significant number of states had reopened, and May 28, close to the end of the month.

Colorado and Georgia, two of the most permissive states in their reopenings, were widely criticized for taking a far less cautious approach than many other state governments.

Noting again how every state has different dynamics, Kaiser’s Tolbert noted that many of the early cases in Colorado began at ski resorts that later were closed down.

On May 5, Colorado had 436 new cases using the seven-day rolling average. By May 28, that number had declined to 274 new cases, according to Kaiser. In all, Colorado has had about 26,000 cases and 1,458 deaths.

Georgia had a more nominal dip, with 710 new cases May 5 and 658 new cases May 28. Georgia has had about 48,000 total cases and just over 2,000 total deaths, according to the CDC.

‘So Much Hype’

“These governors who uncaged free people and enterprise were wisely acting to not endanger so many livelihoods while still working to protect the most vulnerable,” George Allen, a former governor and U.S. senator of Virginia, told The Daily Signal.

Allen said 100,000 deaths from the new coronavirus were tragic. However, the doomsday predictions for states that reopened didn’t come true, indicating a problem with computer models on the virus, he said.

“There was so much hype,” said Allen, who is also a member of The Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission. “The fact that so many states opened and cases declined shows how wrong many of the forecasts and models were.”

Allen said he hopes to see more governors and state legislatures provide liability protections for businesses in reopening and work to recruit pharmaceutical manufacturers so that America is less reliant on China.

For the state of Texas, new cases of COVID-19 were about the same in early May—1,079—as in late May—1,049—except for a spike in mid-May of 1,305 that was followed by a decline. Texas, the second most populous state, has had about 65,000 total cases and 1,678 deaths, according to the CDC.

In Alabama, however, new cases nearly doubled from 241 to 463 over that time period, according to Kaiser. Alabama has had 18,438 cases and 648 deaths in all.

Mississippi also had a spike from 266 new cases to 307 new cases in the three weeks from May 5 to May 28. The state has had more than 16,000 cases and 768 deaths, according to the CDC.

Tennessee, however, saw a decrease from 520 new cases in early May to 388 new cases in late May, according to Kaiser. In all, Tennessee has had 23,709 cases and 369 deaths.

West Virginia saw its already tiny number of new cases, 22, more than double to 49 from early to late May. West Virginia was the last state with zero cases early in the pandemic. In all, it has had about 2,000 cases and 76 deaths.

More Testing, Tracing

Other states remained steady after reopening.

On some level, an increase in new COVID-19 cases was expected whenever Americans came out of isolation, Kaiser’s Tolbert said:

As states reopen, the hope is that while, yes, there will be an increase in cases, states will also increase the testing and contact tracing. The whole reason we went into lockdown was never eradication of the virus, but it was to flatten the curve to give the health care system time to respond and not be overwhelmed.

Utah did a partial reopening May 1, and Missouri followed May 3. Utah has had more than 10,000 total cases and 114 deaths. Missouri has had 13,327 cases and 773 deaths.

The states of Florida, Indiana, and South Carolina began their phased reopenings May 4.

On May 8, Rhode Island, which has had about 15,000 cases and 720 deaths, became the first Northeastern state to reopen. Wisconsin began opening May 13.

Utah remained about the same, with 158 new cases May 5, just a few days after its reopening, and 150 new cases May 28, according to Kaiser.

Indiana had 635 new cases after a seven-day average May 5, one day after reopening. That dropped to 445 new cases May 28. Indiana has had a total of 34,830 cases and 2,142 deaths.

Florida, with the nation’s third-largest population, was almost flat with 656 new cases the day after it reopened May 4 and 659 as of May 28. In all, Florida has had 55,415 cases and 2,460 deaths.

South Carolina had an increase in new cases from 158 on May 5 to 201 new cases May 28. South Carolina has had 12,148 total cases and about 500 deaths.

As an aside, neighboring North Carolina, which didn’t reopen until May 21 according to Stateline, saw a big spike before and after—going from 394 cases May 5 to 755 cases May 28. North Carolina has had 29,263 total cases and about 900 deaths.

In Wisconsin, a week before the May 13 reopening, the number of new cases was 325 on May 5. That increased to 441 by May 28, according to Kaiser. Wisconsin has had about 18,500 cases and 600 deaths.

Staying Open

Seven other states didn’t force closure of their economies but issued strong guidelines to businesses and individuals. These states were Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming, according to Stateline.

For the most part, there was no significant difference for these seven states over the period measured. But Arkansas had an increase from 57 new cases in early May to 182 new cases by late May, according to Kaiser. Arkansas has had 7,443 total cases and 133 deaths.

Nebraska saw a decline from 408 new cases May 5 to 260 new cases May 28. The state has had 14,345 total cases and 178 deaths.

Keeping with the Midwestern trend, Iowa saw a decline from 534 new cases in the seven-day average May 5 to 345 new cases May 28. In all, Iowa has had almost 20,000 cases and about 550 deaths.

Oklahoma was steady, with 102 new cases dipping to 100 over that same period. The state has had about 6,300 total cases and 338 deaths.

For other states, it may be too early to measure the potential effect of reopening.

States that had phased reopenings in mid-May include Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia, according to Stateline.

Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washington, and the District of Columbia reopened in late May.

What’s Next?

Pennsylvania opens Thursday, June 4, followed by Michigan on June 12.

The state of New York, which has had the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the nation, will open June 13.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures New York state and New York City separately in logging coronavirus cases. In all, New York City has had more than 200,000 cases and almost 22,000 deaths. The rest of New York state has had about 168,000 cases and 8,159 deaths.

Six states have not yet set a date to reopen. They include the nation’s most populous state, California, which has had 113,000 total cases and about 4,250 deaths.

The others are Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oregon.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: CIA’s Brad Johnson Covid 19 Report

My assessment of the Covid crisis, where are now, and the “political theatre” nature of the reaction to the virus.

©All rights reserved.

Don’t Gaslight Us on #BelieveWomen

Many of us were startled to open The New York Times last week and find ourselves accused of hijacking and weaponizing the phrase “believe all women.”

According to journalist Susan Faludi, the phrase always has been “believe women,” and never has been associated with a demand for automatic and unquestioned belief that those who allege sexual assault are telling the truth.

The “believe all women” line, in Faludi’s telling, is a false narrative perpetuated by what she calls the right wing.

Apparently, the problems long pointed out with the premise of believing all women were, well, problems we—the “right wing”—created as a trap for an otherwise unblemished and unproblematic movement.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


This was particularly shocking to me. I remember the arguments for literally believing all women without question to be so strong that I wrote an article addressing them. Bari Weiss, who hardly could be called a right-winger, also understood this as a primary message of the movement, and was so concerned about its consequences that she publicly pushed back against it.

Could our memories have been so wrong? Could we have misunderstood the basic premise of an entire social movement? Could it be that we trolled ourselves into knocking down a straw man?

No. We’re being gaslighted. And we have the receipts to prove it.

To give credit to Faludi, some feminist voices have warned that #BelieveWomen ought not to mean more than simply taking women seriously instead of immediately dismissing accusations.

But to suggest that the broader #MeToo movement did not ever meaningfully encompass a demand to believe all women, in all accusations? Now that’s just pure revisionism.

Let’s start with the phrase itself. While it was certainly never as popular as the shorter #BelieveWomen, it was embraced unironically by many groups, people, and outlets that are about as far from “right wing” as I am from a communist.

National Public Radio, for example, would have been shocked to discover that “believe all women” was not, in fact, the legitimate “mantra” of the #MeToo movement, as it presumed.

Writers at outlets such as JezebelThe Guardian, and Bloomberg at various times made clear that “believe all women” was an important underlying norm of #MeToo. One Daily Beast article went so far as to refer to these years as “the era of believe all women.”

Faludi taunts: “Good luck finding any feminist who thinks we should believe everything all women say—even what they say about sexual assault.” But here is an editor at Bustle demanding just that.

You also can find the hashtag #BelieveAllWomen endorsed by a variety of liberal “Blue Checks” on Twitter, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; the ERA Coalition; comedian Greg Proops; singer Tara Slone; and former Pepsico President Brad Jakeman.

“Believe all women” was, in fact, such an important norm that society forced a prominent comedian to apologize for suggesting it was bad to turn “listen to women” into “believe all women.”

The New York Times itself thought the phrase was so inextricably linked with #MeToo that it suggested the following discussion question in its series on how to teach about the movement: “Should we always ‘believe all women?’ What are the benefits and drawbacks of doing so?”

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that no one outside of right-wing circles ever mentioned the phrase “believe all women” and that it was always, without exceptions, “believe women.” Is this fundamentally any different in its practical effect?

“Believe women” is a categorical, unqualified statement. What else could you reasonably expect it to mean besides “believe all women”?

Moreover, “Believe Women” was used interchangeably with mottos such as “Believe Survivors” and “Believe All Survivors,” which inherently presume that all women who make accusations are survivors, and are, ipso facto, to be believed.

So you’ll have to forgive all of the prominent non-right-wing-hacks who found themselves completely confused and thinking that “believe women” meant “believe all women who make accusations are victims, simply because they made accusations.”

The organizers of the Women’s March clearly believed this was the case, retweeting “We believe women” with an underlying tweet implying that a woman’s words of accusation alone should be sufficient evidence that she is to be believed.

And as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., explained regarding accusations of sexual misconduct leveled at former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “I believe the women, and that means he isn’t telling the truth.”

In other words, she thought the essence of “believing women” was that women who make accusations must be believed, and any defense put forward by the accused must be discredited. Full stop.

This line of argument also was clearly seen in a Vox article about the “Republican response” to sexual assault allegations leveled at Donald Trump. Many of these allegedly “sad” responses were simply that the lawmakers hadn’t yet looked into the allegations.

One of the apparently unacceptable responses, from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was precisely the response Faludi now says always has been the epitome of “believe women”—that the accusation should be taken seriously, but vetted.

But to Vox, apparently, it was “predictable and sad” that politicians did not immediately believe the accusations, but rather wanted to look into the facts and assess credibility before forming an opinion.

Finally, whatever moderating influences may have initially fought to separate #BelieveWomen from #BelieveAllWomen, the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh destroyed any lingering pretense that automatic, unwavering belief was not accepted practice within the movement. Here, actions spoke louder than any words.

From the very beginning, prominent Democrats made clear that the accusation alone was enough. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, went so far as to state, prior to any hearing of the facts, that not only did she believe Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, but that men should “just shut up” and believe her, too.

Even afterward, when Kavanaugh was hit with allegations of sexual misconduct at Yale by Deborah Ramirez, many prominent Senate Democrats demanded his impeachment based on Ramirez’s accusation alone.

“Believe all women” was never a right-wing trap. It always has been a very real part of the #MeToo movement, even though dissenters—conservative and liberal alike—have cautioned against such an untenable and reductionist approach.

The question isn’t whether the right hijacked a phrase to create unreasonable standards. It didn’t.

The question isn’t even whether the left will continue to abide by the standards it largely accepted and imposed on others when those standards no longer are politically expedient. It won’t—those standards already have been subjected to quick and near-total abandonment for recent accusations against liberal politicians.

The only remaining question is whether this newfound love of due process and fair-mindedness will continue for the next college student, celebrity, or conservative politician accused of misconduct.

One can only hope.

Unfortunately, it’s more than likely that when the pendulum swings back, the past will prove remarkably alterable: “We must ‘believe all women.’ We’ve always said ‘believe all women.’”

COMMENTARY BY

Amy Swearer is a senior legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: #BelieveWomen


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Interrogating the Transgender Agenda

A psychiatrist questions the scientific and medical basis for current treatments of gender dysphoria.


Dr Paul McHugh is one of America’s leading psychiatrists. The article below is his testimony to the US Supreme Court in the case of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An employee of the funeral home, Aimee Stephens, decided to transition from a man to a woman in 2013. Her employer sacked her. Stephens sued. The case rose steadily through the courts. Although Stephens died of kidney disease last month at the age of 59, her estate is carrying on the lawsuit.

This is a very significant case. At stake is whether bans on sex discrimination in the United States also include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Dr McHugh’s expertise is helpful in questioning a so-called scientific imperative for gender affirmation. (Footnotes and references have been removed and the text has been slightly abridged.)


Sex refers to the two halves of humanity, male and female. It is well defined based on the binary roles that males and females play in reproduction. “In biology, an organism is male or female if it is structured to perform one of the respective roles in reproduction. This definition does not require any arbitrary measurable or quantifiable physical characteristics or behaviors, it requires understanding the reproductive system and the reproduction process.”

The structural difference for the purpose of reproduction is the only “widely accepted” way of classifying the two sexes. “This conceptual basis for sex roles is binary and stable, and allows us to distinguish males from females on the grounds of their reproductive systems, even when these individuals exhibit behaviors that are not typical of males or females.”

Sex is not and cannot be “assigned at birth,” despite the assertions of the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and Respondents. The language of “assigned at birth” is purposefully misleading and would be identical to an assertion that blood type is assigned at birth. Yes, a doctor can check your blood type and list it. But blood type, like sex, is objectively recognizable, not assigned. In fact, the sex of a child can be ascertained well before birth.

“Gender identity” has no bearing on a male’s or a female’s sex. Stephens [legal team] maintains that, although in every biological and physiological way a man, Stephens is really a woman. Stephens felt a deep affinity towards things that are culturally and stereotypically associated with girls. But Stephens was not, and is not, a girl no matter how many of the stereotypes about girls Stephens adopts and no matter how deeply Stephens believes that affinity for those stereotypes about females transforms Stephens into a female.

A boy mind in a girl body?

The “popular notion regarding gender identity” that says a person has a “boy mind in a girl body” or vice versa is merely an idiom used by a person seeking to describe some type of distress to others. Just as we have seen before during the height of the discredited multiple personality disorder era, such testimonials are not truth, even if one asserts it as a truth claim. Such a “view implies that gender identity is a persistent and innate feature of human psychology.” But based on “the neurobiological and genetic research on the origins of gender identity, there is little evidence that the phenomenon of transgender identity has a biological basis.” There are problems with the methodological limitations of any imaging study that assesses “girl brain” and “boy brain” theories:

[I]t is now widely recognized among psychiatrists and neuroscientists who engage in brain imaging research that there are inherent and ineradicable methodological limitations of any neuroimaging study that simply associates a particular trait, such as a certain behavior, with a particular brain morphology. (And when the trait in question is not a concrete behavior but something as elusive and vague as “gender identity,” these methodological problems are even more serious).

[Therefore] there are no studies that demonstrate that any of the biological differences being examined have predictive power, and so all interpretations, usually in popular outlets, claiming or suggesting that a statistically significant difference between the brains of people who are transgender and those who are not is the cause of being transgendered or not — that is to say, that the biological differences determine the differences in gender identity — are unwarranted. In short, the current studies on associations between brain structure and transgender identity are small, methodologically limited, inconclusive, and sometimes contradictory.

In short, science does not support the notion that gender identity is an innate, immutable physical property of human beings. One’s sense of self and one’s desire to present to others as a member of the opposite sex have no bearing whatsoever upon the objective biological reality that one is male or female.

Even if evidence existed that brain studies showed differences, which they do not, it would not tell us whether the brain differences are the cause of transgender identity or a result of identifying and acting upon their own stereotypes about the opposite sex, through what is known as “neuroplasticity.”

Regardless of the extent transgender identities and aspects of the brain could correlate in some way, none of this speaks to the question of biological sex. Even if there was a biological basis for people to think they’re the opposite sex, that does not make them so.

No matter how difficult the condition of gender dysphoria may be, nothing about it affects the objective reality that those suffering from it remain the male or female persons that they were in the womb, at birth, and thereafter – any more than an anorexic’s belief that she is overweight changes the fact that she is, in reality, slender.

Gender identity is not immutable, but is based on persons’ beliefs associating themselves with whatever stereotypes they have about people of the opposite sex. It is a subjective perception not limited to the two sexes, but expands to categories other than male or female. Contrarily, sex is not a belief. It is an objective and scientifically demonstrable reality.

Stephens, as well as the APA and AMA, asserts that “everyone has a gender identity, which is ‘one’s internal, deeply held sense of gender.’” The APA’s and the AMA’s proffered descriptions of gender identity operate, in all essentials, analogous to a religious belief system. But neither the sincerity of a religious belief nor the sincerity of a person’s beliefs about gender identity determine reality. Even the Sixth Circuit noted that gender identity has an “internal genesis that lacks a fixed external referent,” and much like religion, should be “authenticat[ed]” through professions of identity rather than “medical diagnoses.” But because it is more like a belief system, it does a great disservice to everyone, those suffering with gender dysphoria and others who are affected, to treat gender identity like sex. A person is either a man or a woman, regardless of what anyone — including that person — happens to believe.

Sex is not a social construct

Some of the errors described above may have led to the Sixth Circuit’s mistaken conclusion that employers that have sex-specific policies based on their employees’ sex instead of their gender identity “necessarily” rely on “stereotypical notions of how sexual organs and gender identity ought to align.” However, the exact opposite is true. Gender identity is a social construct that stands in contradistinction to sex. The biological reality of sex is not a stereotype or social construct.

The irony of course is that labeling sex itself as an illicit stereotype turns everything on its head and actually elevates stereotypes as a reason to treat members of the same sex differently. An employer that has sex-specific policies would be treating all employees equally based on their sex. But, an employer who instead, had “gender identity-specific” policies, would by definition be treating employees of the same sex differently, and basing the different treatment on socially constructed sex stereotypes.

Sex matters in various contexts. Getting the definition wrong affects those areas. If the definition of “sex” is rewritten to mean “gender identity,” doing so both deconstructs the meaning of “sex” and undermines the ability to account for those situations where the distinctions between the two halves of humanity matter.

In addition to bodily privacy in locker rooms, restrooms, and changing facilities (where sex distinctions are crucial based on the bodily differences between the sexes, which accounts for separate facilities in the first place) or the ability to maintain competitive athletic environments for females (again due to bodily differences), we must maintain both the language and the legal construct to recognize sex in other settings such as where strip searches must occur. An inability to do so will put those being searched — including children — in situations where a person of the opposite sex (who identifies with their sex) conducts the search.

Similarly, if we are to disconnect sex from our anatomical differences, other unreasonable demands will be made of persons, such as beauticians in the business of waxing being asked to wax the genitals of a man who identifies as a woman. Even our understanding of sexual orientation is based on sex, not gender identity. Because distinctions based on sex matter in myriad contexts (many of which may only be discovered as the consequences of this experiment unfold), this Court should be slow to muddle the definitions of sex and gender identity.

Treating gender dysphoria

While this case involves the question of whether the term “sex” in federal law means gender identity or includes gender identity, the AMA asks the Court to consider the policy implications, namely the notion that protections under Title VII are necessary to advance the treatment goals of those with gender dysphoria. It claims that science shows that transgender individuals benefit from being affirmed in their beliefs about their sex, from social transition, from hormonal interventions, and from surgeries.

However, these professional associations rely on mere testimonials rather than evidence-based medicine. They treat the supposed benefits of gender affirmation as fact, rather than a clinical judgment call. And we ought not make policy decisions in the name of science when the kind of evidence necessary to support these “treatments” simply does not exist. Instead, those who are affirmed in their gender beliefs progress from social transition to surgical interventions at their peril. Indeed, if the evidence shows us anything, it indicates that those who progress all the way through surgery fare poorly.

Gender affirmation and social transition

The AMA suggests that the many difficulties that are sadly experienced by those who identify with the opposite sex are caused by social stigma. What is necessary, they claim, is that those with gender dysphoria be affirmed in their beliefs. From there, the protocol calls for three phases: (1) social transition, (2) hormone therapy, and (3) surgical interventions.

However, subjecting gender dysphoric persons to this protocol is risky because there is little evidence that social transition is the panacea that the AMA makes it out to be. Often it is a self (or therapist) fulfilling prophecy. Worse, gender affirmation does not end with social transition, but leads to medical and surgical interventions. Even the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) itself admits that “no controlled clinical trials of any feminizing/masculinizing hormone regimen have been conducted to evaluate safety or efficacy in producing physical transition.”

Moreover, some patients wish to detransition, and “the potential that patients undergoing medical and surgical sex reassignment may want to return to a gender identity consistent with their biological sex suggests that reassignment carries considerable psychological and physical risk.” This also “suggests that patients’ pre-treatment beliefs about an ideal post-treatment life may sometimes go unrealized.”

This protocol begins with the notion that gender affirmation is necessary in order to avoid social stigma. And while we should all agree that all persons should be treated with respect, blame should not be laid at the feet of friends, relatives, or co-workers who believe that social transition may not be in a person’s best interest. In fact, even in environments that are fully supportive of transition, “a large number of people who have the surgery . . . remain traumatized — often to the point of committing suicide.”

The most thorough follow-up of sex reassigned people — extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive . . . documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex- reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers. Clearly poor outcomes cannot be blamed on lack of acceptance.

Contrary to what the AMA proposes, there is insufficient evidence that any phase of treatment is helpful. Instead, some studies suggest that not following the protocol may have more positive results. It is unacceptable to have lower standards of care for a group already at a far greater risk for psychological problems and suicide. Doctor Susan Bewley told the BBC in a Newsnight special that “We must not miss the opportunity to do good research now, helping . . . concerned clinicians actually deal with the uncertainty of what they’re doing.”18

Failing to address root issues

Previous editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as recent as 2013, listed “gender identity disorder” rather than “gender dysphoria.” And until recently, clinical distress was not a part of the diagnosis criteria, indicating professional concern for anyone who manifests an incongruence between biological sex and gender identity — not just those who experience distress.

People who identify as transgender “suffer a disorder of ‘assumption’ like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists.” “The ‘disordered assumption’ of those who identify as the opposite sex . . . is similar to the faulty assumption of those who suffer from anorexia nervosa, who believe themselves to be overweight when in fact they are dangerously thin.”

Dr Anne Lawrence, who is transgender, has argued that body integrity disorder, which involves a person who identifies as disabled and feels trapped by a fully functional body, draws parallels to gender dysphoria. Dr. Josephson describes this type of phenomenon as a “delusion . . . [to] a fixed, false belief which is held despite clear evidence to the contrary.”

To illustrate in another way, someone with anorexia may feel overweight and know that they are not. As a result, they struggle with their feelings until they come to believe that they are fat. Similarly, someone with gender dysphoria begins by feeling like they are the opposite sex but know they are not. They then struggle with those feelings until they come to believe they are the opposite sex and try to act accordingly.

Yet, just as you would not treat an anorexic person’s delusion by helping that person to lose weight, it is unwise to treat a gender dysphoric person’s delusion by encouraging them to indulge in that falsehood. When false beliefs about reality are not addressed by helping people come to accept reality, their false beliefs “are not merely emotionally distressing . . . but also life-threatening.” Treatment should “assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions.”

Instead, some in the scientific community want gender dysphoric individuals to “find only gender counselors who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.” Indeed, there are no other health issues where doctors modify healthy bodies to align with a mind’s misperception or where they would call a healthy body a “birth defect” rather than working with the mind to accept bodily reality.

A more appropriate treatment would be to show gender dysphoric individuals that feelings are not the same as reality. “Psychiatrists obviously must challenge the solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned.”

“Disorders of consciousness, after all, represent psychiatry’s domain; declaring them off- limits would eliminate the field.” Indeed, when treatment is focused on helping patients align their subjective gender identity with their objective biological sex by use of normal counseling methods such as talk therapy, gender dysphoria has proven to be significantly reduced.

Given the harms of the next two phases of the WPATH protocol, social transition should not be encouraged. Not only does it not address the root issues causing clinical distress, it also makes it more likely for patients to forge ahead into hormone therapy and physical alteration of their body.

The harm of hormone therapy

Hormone therapy has not been proven to improve the overall quality of life or reduce psychological symptoms or other negative outcomes. At best, the scientific data is inconclusive. At worst, it is harmful.

Hayes Inc., a company which focuses on “unbiased” “evidence-based assessments of health technologies and clinical programs to determine their impact on patient safety,” gave the quality of evidence for hormone treatment its lowest possible rating. The Hayes Directory explains that some groups advocate for hormonal treatments as “medically necessary treatments.” However, these treatments do “not readily fit traditional concepts of medical necessity since research to date has not established anatomical or physiological anomalies associated with [gender dysphoria].”

After reviewing 21 studies, the Hayes Directory concluded that the studies “were inconsistent with respect to a relationship between hormone therapy and general psychological health, substance abuse, suicide attempts, and sexual function and satisfaction.” For quality of life, “[d]ifferences between treated and untreated study participants were very small or of unknown magnitude,” suggesting little evidence of effectiveness.

Alarmingly, and contrary to the AMA’s and the APA’s narrative, the Hayes Directory reports that the studies show the prevalence of suicide attempts was not affected by hormone therapy.

Additionally, hormone therapy increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular and thromboembolic events, osteoporosis, and cancer. No proof of improved mortality, suicide rates, or death from illicit drug use was observed.

Similarly, in 2010, Mohammad Hassan Murad of the Mayo Clinic studied the body of research involving the outcomes of hormonal therapies used in advance of sex reassignment procedures. He found there to be “very low quality evidence” that hormonal interventions “likely improve gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and comorbidities, sexual function and overall quality of life.”

Without well-designed studies that provide conclusive results that treatments designed to block natural maturation of the body are helpful, public policy should not be used to mandate the kind of gender affirmation that result in such treatments.

The harm of sex reassignment surgery

Scientific support for sex reassignment surgery is equally lacking. After one of the first studies addressing the efficacy of surgical transition occurred in 1979, Johns Hopkins Medical Center discontinued surgical intervention. A study performed by Jon K. Meyer and Donna J. Reter found that when individuals who underwent sex reassignment surgery reported improvement, it did not rise to the level of statistical significance, but those who opted not to undergo sex reassignment surgery showed statistically significant improvement. Those authors concluded that “sex reassignment surgery confers no objective advantage . . . .”

Other studies have shown negative consequences. In a study performed by Cecilia Dhejne with the Karolinska Institute and Gothenburg University in Sweden, it was found that “transsexual individuals had an approximately three times higher risk for psychiatric hospitalization than the control groups, even after adjusting for prior psychiatric treatment.” “[M]ost alarmingly, sex reassigned individuals were 4.9 times more likely to attempt suicide and 19.1 times more likely to die by suicide compared to controls.”

In 2009, a longitudinal study performed by Annette Kuhn in Switzerland found that over a 15-year period the quality of life for 55 sex-reassigned individuals was “considerably lower” than females who had pelvic surgery for other reasons. Moreover, “none of the studies included the bias-limiting measures of randomization . . . and only three of the studies included control groups.” While the Mayo Clinic report indicated that 80% of sex reassigned patients reported improvement in gender dysphoria, 78% improvement in psychological symptoms, and 80% improvement in quality of life, none of the studies included the bias-limiting measure of randomization or control groups. Thus, the claim that improvement occurred after surgical transition is merely comprised of testimonials.

Another Hayes Directory report, this time addressing surgical interventions, concluded that there is not good scientific evidence to support surgical modifications. It concluded that the “evidence was too sparse to allow any conclusion regarding the comparative benefits of different [sex reassignment surgery] procedures.”The “very low” quality of evidence was “due to limitations of individual studies, including small sample sizes, studies lacking evaluating any one outcome, retrospective data, lack of randomization, failure to “blind outcome,” lack of a control or comparator group, and other problems. Unbiased assessment of the claims leads to the following conclusion:

The scientific evidence summarized suggests we take a skeptical view toward the claim that sex reassignment procedures provide the hoped-for benefits or resolve the underlying issues that contribute to elevated mental health risks among the transgender population. While we work to stop maltreatment and misunderstanding, we should also work to study and understand whatever factors may contribute to the high rates of suicide and other psychological and behavioral health problems among the transgender population, and to think more clearly about the treatment options that are available.

There is no good evidence that this dramatic surgery produces the benefits espoused by the AMA. There is, however, evidence that surgical modification poses health risks.20 Moreover, one unalterable consequence is that anyone who goes through with “sex change” surgery will be sterilized. Without firm scientific evidence, the medical and psychiatric community should not follow the WPATH protocol to progress from social transition, to medical interventions, and ultimately to surgery, which therefore calls into question the AMA’s claim that government policy should require persons to affirm others’ beliefs that they are the opposite sex.

Other procedures

Another Hayes Directory report reviewed all the relevant literature on ancillary procedures and services for the treatment of gender dysphoria, such as voice training, facial modifications, reduction of the Adam’s apple, and other cosmetic surgeries to feminize or masculinize features. These too do “not readily fit traditional concepts of medical necessity since research to date has not established anatomical or physiological anomalies associated with [gender dysphoria].”

As with its conclusion on hormone therapies as well as surgical modifications, the Hayes Directory gave the scientific support for these treatments its lowest possible rating. The studies not only had limitations such as small sample sizes, separating procedures by category, and a lack of control or comparator group, they also measured “technical success and patient satisfaction” while ignoring “overall measure of well-being.” In fact, the Hayes Directory found that the “overall individual well- being is unknown.”

In conclusion, relevant to the Court’s present concern, the AMA’s suggestion that gender identity should be read into sex protections in furtherance of treatments goals for those suffering from gender dysphoria is misplaced. Given that the stated goal of transitioning people with gender dysphoria to their identified gender is to improve their overall well- being, altering a person’s body, sometimes permanently, should not be done without solid scientific evidence of its benefits. Since the known studies only measure self-reported satisfaction with the aesthetic result, and not improved quality of life, mental state, or overall well-being, these procedures should not be recommended treatment.

How about children?

… If this Court, for policy reasons, were to redefine sex to mean gender identity, that definition will impact children in educational settings. Indeed, such an interpretation has been used to force some schools to open privacy facilities to the opposite sex. Such an approach not only subjects students to sexual harassment through the systematic loss of bodily privacy, but such treatment is actually contraindicated for those children who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoric children subjectively feel they are the opposite sex based on what they think it is like to be the opposite sex. Other than in this area, children who have persistent beliefs that do not conform with reality are not encouraged to persist in those beliefs. In the same way, counselors should assess and guide those with gender dysphoria in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their false assumptions.

Until recently when ideological imperatives took the place of scientific evidence, this is precisely what was done for gender dysphoric children. Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a leading authority on gender dysphoria, successfully helped children through psychosocial treatments like talk therapy, organized play dates, and family counseling. A follow-up study revealed that only 3 of 25 female children continued to struggle with gender dysphoria.

In contrast to the belief that we and our children are best served by observing and cooperating with our observable biological reality, the AMA and the APA say that children who suffer from gender dysphoria can relieve that dysphoria through social transition, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and eventually surgically altering sex-based anatomy to look like that of the opposite sex. This progression, however, is unhelpful since children who identify with the opposite sex but who are allowed to go through puberty without puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones cease identifying with the opposite sex 70% to 98% of the time for males and 50% to 88% of the time for females.

Conversely, when children are encouraged to progress through social transition to puberty blockers, they tend to persist with their dysphoria. Yet no longitudinal, controlled studies support gender-affirming treatments for gender dysphoria. The problem is that while some persons who go through all these stages may report satisfaction with an eventual surgery, they may still suffer the same morbidities and experience startlingly high rates of suicide and attempted suicide.

Not only does the progression from affirmation to surgery result in increased psychological problems, but the evidence is insufficient to suggest that each step along the way is safe and efficacious. While affirming a child’s gender identity may appear a compassionate way to help a child during a painful and confusing experience, it is not.

There is an obvious self-fulfilling nature to encouraging young [gender dysphoric] children to impersonate the opposite sex and then institute pubertal suppression. . . . All of his same-sex peers develop into young men, his opposite sex friends develop into young women, but he remains a pre-pubertal boy. He will be left psycho-socially isolated and alone.

Repetition affects the structure and function of the brain through what is called neuroplasticity. Thus, children who are encouraged to live as the opposite sex may be increasingly unable to live as their own sex. As a result, some children who would otherwise overcome their gender dysphoria may be unable to do so.

Puberty blockers pose other health risks. For example, they impair bone growth, decrease bone accretion, interfere with brain development, and impair fertility.

Rather than encouraging the progression through these stages, children would be better served at the very first stage by not encouraging their belief that they are the opposite sex. If they are allowed to progress through puberty, the issues of gender dysphoria naturally resolves the vast majority of the time. Therefore, a more cautious approach, supplemented by individual or family psychotherapy would be most compassionate. In short, the notion that science requires gender affirmation, and thus for policy reasons gender identity should be read into the word “sex” is misplaced.

Activism, not medicine

We should treat everyone with dignity and respect, but there is significant disagreement in the particulars of what is helpful to those identifying as transgender and what should be asked of others in the process. Though some research has been conducted regarding treatment of those who identify as transgender, when “research touches on controversial themes, it is particularly important to be clear about precisely what science has and has not shown.”

As discussed above, the existing studies on treatment of and outcomes for transgender persons are poor support for gender affirmation or the progression to medication or surgery, yet the large medical associations like the AMA and APA ardently endorse these practices. Unfortunately, ideology rather than science is driving the support. And since dissent is systematically eliminated and those who disagree are loudly condemned, the kind of research necessary to inform the public debate is not occurring.

“Consensus” in the scientific community is more contrived than scientific. “Mainstream clinicians and scientists who consider gender discordance to be a mental disorder have been deliberately excluded in the makeup of the steering committees of academic and medical professional societies which are promulgating guidelines that were previously unheard of.” Id. For instance, when the Endocrine Society created its guidelines, “the panel selected included only those who supported the emerging practices and attempts by many of the endocrinologists present to raise concerns were muted.”

The American Psychiatric Association, in the most recent edition of DSM, removed gender identity disorder and replaced it with gender dysphoria.

“Changes in diagnostic nomenclature in this area were not initiated through the result of scientific information but rather the result of cultural changes fueling political interest groups within professional organizations.” Naturally, considering identity with the opposite sex to be a mental disorder is incompatible with social affirmation. Therefore, the nomenclature was changed so that only the anxiety caused by the incongruity between sex and identification is considered to be a disorder.

Yet, since we would neither affirm a person who believed themselves disabled when they have a fully functional body nor suggest surgeries to disable such persons to conform their bodies to their beliefs, we should carefully consider the approach we take concerning persons’ subjective beliefs about their sex.

Indeed, if something conflicts with our understanding of biological facts, is inconsistently applied, and defies common sense, we should demand more evidence to suggest that these factors are all pointing the wrong direction. The support for gender affirmation, medications, and surgery come from testimonials, but that is not evidence. It would be akin to asking consumers if they are satisfied with their vehicles, and publishing those testimonies, claiming it to be evidence of quality or reliability. It is not as if we do not know how to get good data, such as with control studies, but we refuse to conduct good science or follow the science — and that has everything to do with activism and ideology — not good medicine.

As confirmation of the power of activism over science, those who follow the science are often shut down. Consider Lisa Littman, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University, who coined the phrase “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” She made the observation based on various parental reports that those who identify as transgender during or after puberty appear to have underlying and preexisting psychiatric conditions, and she called for more research. After members of the transgender community criticized the research, Brown quickly distanced itself. And ultimately, she lost a consulting job due to the research.

Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., former dean of Harvard Medical School, wrote, “I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published. One can only assume that the response was in large measure due to the intense lobbying the journal received. . . .”

Similarly, Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a leading expert on gender dysphoria in children, who headed the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto, was removed from his clinic on baseless charges and the clinic shut down. Zucker helped to write the “standards of care” guidelines for the WPATH and led the group that developed criteria for gender dysphoria used in DSM-5. But as others increasingly pushed gender affirmation and social transition, Zucker’s clinic continued to be cautious, suggesting that it was better to “help children feel comfortable in their own bodies,” since it recognized the malleable nature of gender identity in children and the likelihood that it will resolve. Activists saw this as a rejection of children’s gender identities.

As a result, the parent organization running the gender identity clinic interviewed activists and clinicians critical of the clinic and fired Zucker and shut down the clinic based on false claims. Yet for the many families who benefited from Zucker’s work and others who would benefit, “a sustained campaign of political pressure” took away their options to find help feeling comfortable with their own bodies.

This, of course, was not the first time science took the back seat in the practice of medicine. Trendy diagnoses and treatments have lead us astray in the past. The practices of eliciting alternative personalities from patients as well as lobotomy  had many testimonials about their benefits to patients, but testimonials do not form the substance of evidence- based medicine. Thus we should be especially cautious when activism or ideology has the upper hand over science.

Ultimately, poor science exacerbated the suffering of those treated by lobotomy or diagnosed with multiple-personality disorders in the past, and appears to be doing the same with those suffering from gender dysphoria today.

As a matter of science, sex and gender identity are so distinct that gender identity cannot properly be read into or replace sex. And with regard to the underlying policy question, there is no reliable evidence that gender affirmation — understood as asking or requiring persons to affirm others’ beliefs that they are the opposite sex — is efficacious.

The original text of Dr McHugh’s essay may be consulted HERE.

COLUMN BY

Paul McHugh

Dr. Paul McHugh, M.D. is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From 1975 until 2001, Dr. McHugh was the Henry Phipps Professor… More by Paul McHugh

RELATED ARTICLE: Transgenderism: a pathogenic meme

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Evidence Suggests Kids Are Extremely Low Risk For Coronavirus

While much still remains unknown about the coronavirus, a consensus has emerged that the virus presents an extremely minimal risk for children.

As the Summer months arrive, debate has emerged over whether or not it’s safe for schools to reopen. Most colleges throughout the U.S. have already stated their intentions to reopen their campuses this Fall, and two-thirds of college students feel safe returning even without a vaccine, according to a recent poll. However, managing to return younger students to school could prove more complicated.

President Donald Trump recently clashed with White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci over the possibility of K-12 schools reopening in the Fall, noting that the virus presents an extremely low risk to children. On the surface, the president is indisputably correct. A study published in late April estimated that roughly 1/3 of children ages 6-10 who had the coronavirus were asymptomatic, and concluded “the role of children in transmission is unclear, but it seems likely they do not play a significant role.”

As of mid-May, in the coronavirus epicenter of New York, just nine children under the age of 18 had died with the virus, accounting for a total of 0.06% of the state’s deaths. On the flip side, nearly three-quarters of coronavirus deaths in the state came among those 65-years-old and older.

Fox Sports commentator Clay Travis noted that the odds of people under the age of 24 dying from the coronavirus are statistically lower than them getting struck by lightning. The odds of someone under the age of 24 dying of the coronavirus is roughly one in 1 million, while the odds of someone in that age group getting struck by lightning is roughly one in 700,000.

It is for these reasons that college campuses appear almost certain to open up, and major revenue generators, such as college football, appear likely to begin their season on time. Colleges will be easier to reopen than K-12 schools, as college campuses also serve as living spaces and thus can be insulated if necessary. However, K-12 schools do not have those advantages and will likely face more roadblocks to reopening as a result. While the kids are extremely low-risk, extra concern will have to be paid to older teachers, and kids with live-in relatives who are older or have pre-existing respiratory conditions. A USA Today poll published last week found that 20% of teachers said they would be “unlikely” to return to school in the Fall, even if they are allowed to.

Parents worried about their children returning to school in the Fall can rest easy, as evidence overwhelmingly shows that kids are low risk for the coronavirus. However, reopening schools and daycare facilities will present more roadblocks than just securing the health and safety of young children.

COLUMN BY

WILLIAM DAVIS

Repoprter

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Poll: Just 25% Of Americans Believe Coronavirus Death Tolls Are Accurate

Coronavirus Has Reignited The Left’s War On Football

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: ‘A Year’s Worth of Suicide Attempts in Four Weeks’ — The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Lockdowns

Stay-at-home orders come with a host of unintended consequences that we have not yet even begun to measure or understand.


he costs of the government responses to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic have been severe. New evidence suggests they could be even worse than we imagined.

An ABC affiliate in California reports that doctors at John Muir Medical Center tell them they have seen more deaths by suicide than COVID-19 during the quarantine.

“The numbers are unprecedented,” said Dr. Michael deBoisblanc, referring to the spike in suicides.

“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” deBoisblanc added. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”

Kacey Hansen, a trauma nurse who has spent 33 years at the hospital, said she has never witnessed self-inflicted attacks on such a scale.

“What I have seen recently, I have never seen before,” Hansen said. “I have never seen so much intentional injury.”

To date, there is little evidence that lockdowns have reduced the spread of COVID-19. But even if there were compelling evidence that lockdowns were saving lives, it would be a mistake to ignore the manifold unintended consequences of stay-at-home orders.

As economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan explain, “every human action has both intended and unintended consequences. Human beings react to every rule, regulation, and order governments impose, and their reactions result in outcomes that can be quite different than the outcomes lawmakers intended.”

The problem with negative unintended consequences is two-fold.

First, as Ludwig von Mises, observed, every government intervention in markets creates unintended consequences, which often lead to more calls for government interventions which have more unintended consequences, and so on. Second, as Frédéric Bastiat pointed out, we tend to focus our attention more on the intended consequences than the unintended ones. (Think of government assistance and the poverty trap.)

The unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been severe. Most of the attention, however, has been focused on the economic consequences. Forty million US jobs lost. A looming recession. Hundreds of thousands of businesses wiped out and retirements destroyed.

The psychological and physiological unintended consequences of stay-at-home orders have received less attention. Media have been largely transfixed on COVID-19, reporting daily death tolls and rising case numbers in states easing lockdown restrictions (while failing to note that COVID cases are rising because of expanded testing).

To be sure, measuring the impact on mental health is trickier than measuring COVID-19 fatalities or job losses. But that is no reason to discount the psychological and physical impact of lockdowns, especially when evidence suggests the toll is severe.

A recent Wall Street Journal report shows a surge in the number of people taking drugs for anxiety and insomnia, prompting physicians to warn about the long-term risks of increased prescriptions, which include drug addiction and abuse.

Stay-at-home orders may seem relatively benign, but they are not. Science shows that human beings struggle mightily in isolation from one another.

As The New York Times reported in 2016, social isolation isn’t just harmful, it’s quite deadly:

A wave of new research suggests social separation is bad for us. Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormonesOne recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.

Another analysis that pooled data from 70 studies and 3.4 million people found that socially isolated individuals had a 30 percent higher risk of dying in the next seven years, and that this effect was largest in middle age.

Loneliness can accelerate cognitive decline in older adults, and isolated individuals are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with more robust social interactions. These effects start early: Socially isolated children have significantly poorer health 20 years later, even after controlling for other factors. All told, loneliness is as important a risk factor for early death as obesity and smoking.

Anecdotal evidence, like the testimony of doctors at John Muir Medical Center and reported surges in calls to suicide hotlines around the country, suggest the mental toll of lockdowns could be as great as the material costs. (Indeed, they likely go hand-in-hand.)

We’ll have months if not years to debate whether the lockdowns were effective or the right thing to do. What’s important to remember is the stay-at-home orders come with a host of unintended consequences that we have not yet even begun to measure or understand.

For his part, Dr. DeBoisblanc has seen enough to convince him that it’s time to lift stay-at-home orders and let people return to their communities.

“Personally, I think it’s time,” he said. “I think, originally, this was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that, and our other community health is suffering.”

COLUMN BY

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Italy Returns to Masses

As of last week, lockdown restrictions have been almost fully lifted in Italy. Shops, restaurants, cafés, etc. are reopening. Italians can now see friends, family, and colleagues freely, with some local discretion being exercised by each region. Churches are also now in “phase 2” of re-opening. In one of the oldest basilicas in Rome, Santa Maria in Trastevere, built in the 4th century, the first Mass was just held after almost three months of the nation-wide lockdown.

A sign at the entrance of the Church, however, says that those who have a fever of 37.5 C (99.5 F) or higher, influenza symptoms, or have been in contact with someone positive with COVID-19 cannot enter. For everyone else, a facemask, hand sanitizing, and one-meter distancing are conditions of entry.

You would expect that after weeks of a forced lockdown, the first Mass after reopening would have drawn many faithful once again to their place of worship, especially in one of the most prominent basilicas in Rome. But there were only about fifty people attending, about five of whom were nuns. All the benches had been removed for social distancing purposes. Chairs a meter or more apart were carefully positioned across the inside of the Church.

“People are still afraid, even of coming back to God,” one woman said, who used to attend the basilica regularly. “Personally, I think the Church has been very helpful during this crisis. It went from serving inside the Church to serving outside of it,” she added.

Churches were among the first institutions to be quarantined in Italy. The Italian bishops were relatively silent at the beginning; and their passivity in the face of government restrictions generated quite a bit of controversy. But the initial silence changed as the clergy began to compensate, not just by organizing online streaming Masses and virtually keeping in touch with its faithful, but also by taking a more active part in the community.

In the piazza in front of Santa Maria in Trastevere, for instance, large breakfasts are organized three times a week for those in need. Before the pandemic, about ninety people would show up. That number has more than doubled. A volunteer explained: “People are coming from outside of Rome, by train, just to get our breakfast and food boxes.”

The church provides fruit juices, marmalade, bread, biscuits, coffee and tea, as well as lunches for people when they return home. Initially, most of the people in need were homeless. Now there are many who are struggling with poverty or who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Volunteers have multiplied as well; several journalists, who initially came to report on the charity, now help out on a regular basis.

The volunteers, too, have to undergo strict checks by the church, which measures their temperatures to make sure they don’t have a fever; they have to sanitize their hands, use gloves, practice social distancing, and wear masks. And the church also routinely subjects itself to strict sanitization. Chairs are disinfected before and after someone sits on them, and four times a week the whole church is sanitized with a vaporizer.

“We bought all this equipment ourselves; we are more sterilized as a church than many supermarkets,” the parish priest of the basilica, Don Marco Gnavi told me. In order to keep the focus on helping people and defeating the virus, he refrained from commenting on why places of worship, unlike supermarkets, were not allowed to remain open during the lockdown.

A parish assistant, however, said that some regulations imposed by government authorities did not make much sense. For example, only a maximum of 200 people can enter a church for Mass, even though some churches can take in many more. Santa Maria in Trastevere, for example, has space for at least 250 people even with the 1-meter-plus distance between chairs. And that is nothing compared with a massive building like St Peter’s Basilica.

All this is mere detail, however, which clergy are willing to put up with – at least for now – to make the reopening of Masses as smooth as possible.

During the first reopening Mass, photographers were conspicuously rushing around trying to get the best shots – especially when the priests, wearing gloves, were distributing the Eucharist. Usually, the faithful receive Communion, of course, by lining up in front of the altar. In the current situation, the priests move among the faithful, who are seated in well-spaced chairs.

The change indicates how Church leaders now feel responsible to serve the laity for the common good. In fact, “common good” is a phrase routinely emphasized when people talk about the restrictions.

“We have a collective responsibility to be prudent and protect those who are most fragile with a vision for the common good,” Don Marco Gnavi told me. When I asked him about criticisms that the Church has received for not remaining open, he replied, “Faith is bold, but it is not fatalistic or presumptuous.”

Don Marco points to St. Luke, an evangelist and physician, as a counter-example to the false dichotomy between science and religion that is often used to claim the Church should rebel against scientific authorities. “Jesus cured the sick; he never said illness should be ignored.”

Italian churches, like churches in other nations, were forced into becoming a virtual presence during the lockdown. Whether that was necessary or an overreaction is debatable and will have to be sorted out when the virus recedes and we can form a better picture of what is it and is not.

But now they are reopening with a strong sense of civic duty and a demonstrable ability to adapt in carrying out their divine mission, even in the midst of a pandemic.

COLUMN BY

Alessandra Bocchi

Alessandra Bocchi, a new contributor, is an Italian freelance journalist and writer who focuses on politics, religion, and culture in Europe, the Arab world, and China. She studied political theory at University College in London and international relations at King’s College.

EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing column is republished with permission. © 2020 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

How the Founders Responded to an Epidemic in the Nation’s Capital

Even if the federal government possessed the power to jump into the crisis, it’s hard to conceive of any action it might have taken that would have better met the challenge than what Philadelphians did, crude though it seems by today’s standards.


Do not read this book before eating, or in the midst of a sleepless night. For it is a revolting book, filled with the disgusting details of a loathsome disease.

Sounds like the opening paragraph of a one-star review by a merciless critic, but it’s not. It’s from the 1949 preface to a book by the book’s author himself, J. H. Powell. Titled Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793, it is “the story of a foul and fantastic pestilence, striking without warning in all classes of society,” a true account of “people sick in body and heart, astonished and fearful, paralyzed by the mysterious obscenity about them.”

I thoroughly enjoyed it—the book, that is.

Powell brings to life the people and events of the worst epidemic in American history—yes, worse than the Wuhan coronavirus of 2019-2020 and the Spanish Flu of 1918. Though it was localized in Philadelphia, it killed nearly ten percent of the city of 51,000 people between August 1 and November 9, 1793. That’s about ten times the death rate in the U.S. from today’s pandemic. More than 40 percent of Philadelphians fled into the countryside to escape a disease whose origin (a virus spread by the bite of a mosquito) no one would know for another hundred years.

New interest in historic health disasters is drawing attention to Powell’s book, as well as another good one from 2003, An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy. For this essay, I draw passages from both volumes.

Philadelphia was America’s national capital and headquarters of the federal government in 1793. By act of Congress, the capital wouldn’t move to what is now Washington, D.C. for another seven years. President George Washington had commenced his second term in March. Five months later, in the midst of a hot, wet summer, Philadelphians suddenly took sick in huge numbers, leading quickly to scores of deaths each day. What did the Washington administration do in response?

Nothing. That’s all it could do. It possessed no constitutional duty in the matter and even less experience and expertise. No one argued there were epidemiological exceptions to the First Amendment or, for that matter, to any other provisions in the document ratified just four years earlier. So the federal government never got involved.

Even if the federal government possessed the power to jump into the crisis, it’s hard to conceive of any action it might have taken that would have better met the challenge than what Philadelphians did, crude though it seems by today’s standards. The feds were there, on the scene, but possessed no special knowledge the locals did not also have. Yellow fever is not contagious from one person to another. The disease requires a mosquito in between and nobody knew that then. Lockdowns would likely have made little difference.

The one big issue the Washington administration had to decide—whether to convene Congress in the fall at its Philadelphia location or somewhere else—prompted sharp views on both sides. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (both of an Anti-Federalist bent) told the President he had no authority to move the site where Congress met, so it would have to be Philadelphia, in spite of the crisis. Alexander Hamilton argued that if a foreign enemy occupied the capital or if any other kind of disaster in the city prevented Congress from assembling, then of course the President could bring it together elsewhere. Just weeks into the epidemic, Washington and his Cabinet members themselves skedaddled to Germantown, ten miles to the north, and they hoped Congress would follow.

Jefferson and Madison won that one but, in the end, the question was moot. The first frost in early November killed the mosquitoes and the disease with it. Congress met in Philadelphia in December but one of its first acts was to pass a law authorizing the President to convene it outside the national capital in the future, should conditions require it.

Pennsylvania state government was also domiciled in Philadelphia at the time. The capital wouldn’t be moved to Harrisburg until 1812. In 1793, Governor Thomas Mifflin and the legislature provided some money to Philadelphia to help handle the crisis, then they left town for the duration. So it all came down to Philadelphians. Fortunately, they were blessed with both public and private leadership talent in the persons of Mayor Matthew Clarkson, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and others. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and had served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army during the War for Independence.

To this day, no cure exists for yellow fever. Thanks largely to the work of U.S. Army physician Dr. Walter Reed (no relation) in 1901, we know that the virus is spread by a particular species of mosquito, Aedes aegyptiModern treatments and palliatives greatly reduce suffering and deaths. Draining swamps and pools of stagnant water remain the most effective preventative measures. But 230 years ago, what a victim endured and what “experts” prescribed were a medieval horror show. Powell writes,

Lassitude, glazed eyes, chills, fevers, headaches, nausea, retching, and nosebleeds would suddenly attack people in the best of health. These symptoms, more violent than any the doctors had ever observed, would be followed by a yellow tinge in the eyeballs, puking, fearful straining of the stomach, the black vomit, hiccoughs, depression, “deep and distressed sighing, comatose delirium,” stupor, purplish discoloration of the whole body [from liver damage], finally death.

In the panic that followed the onset of the epidemic, there was no end to the weird and ineffective treatments suggested and tried. They included dousing the afflicted with vinegar, “earth-bathing” (rolling in dirt), drinking molasses by the quart, burning tobacco in the streets. Purging and blood-letting were Dr. Rush’s favored remedies, which also included a concoction of mercury and jalap, the latter being a drug extracted from the tuberous roots of a Mexican climbing plant. As Murphy’s book reveals,

Ads appeared in the newspapers hawking Peruvian bark, salt of vinegar, refined camphor, and other concoctions, such as Daffey’s Elixir (which contained so much pure alcohol that a glass of it could put a person into a drunken stupor). The science of medicine at the end of the eighteenth century still relied a great deal on ancient myths and folk remedies.

Someone recommended that to purify the air of whatever was causing the disease, gunpowder should be liberally set afire. So for a brief time until residents complained of the noise and smoke, municipal workers pulled cannons through the streets and fired them every few yards or so.

Unaware that a mosquito was the carrier, many people thought they could catch yellow fever from proximity to someone infected. So “social distancing” became the norm. Powell writes,

People quickly acquired the habits of living with fear. Handshaking was abandoned, acquaintances snubbed, everyone walked in the middle of the streets to avoid contaminated homes. Those wearing mourning bands were obviously dangerous, as were doctors and ministers. People maneuvered in passing to get windward of anyone they met.

City government ordered a limited quarantine of arriving foreigners but to little effect because the source of the problem was not overseas. It was quickly lifted. When the city cleaned up the filth in and around the wharves on the river, it likely did more to help than the quarantine.

Afraid to leave their homes unless they had a place to flee to in the countryside, Philadelphians withdrew from commerce. Businesses closed. Mail delivery stopped. Newspapers were reduced to a single page for lack of advertising. Incoming vessels on the Delaware River couldn’t find dock workers so they sat in the water or on the docks while their cargo rotted.

Even clocks in the city went haywire. So many clockmakers and time-setters were sick, dead or gone that Philadelphians often couldn’t tell for sure what time it was.

Churches in Philadelphia never closed during the epidemic. Given the nature of the disease, it wouldn’t have made a difference either way. If government officials had ordered them closed, there’s good reason to believe that devout Philadelphians would have defied or resisted such orders.

To his credit, Mayor Clarkson responded with courage and good sense. He formed a committee of respected local citizens who organized makeshift hospitals, raised money for treatment, cleaned the streets and wharves, and looked after children suddenly orphaned when parents or guardians died from the disease.

Some white residents complained that black nurses in town were raising their fees in the midst of the crisis. They took their complaint to the mayor, hoping he would impose controls on those fees. He said no. Jim Murphy tells us,

The mayor knew he couldn’t order black nurses to refuse any fee over a dollar. If he forced them to hold down their costs, he would have to do the same with every merchant, laborer, and farmer doing business in town. How much food would be brought to market if he insisted that only pre-plague prices be charged? How many carters would haul away diseased corpses? What was happening with the black nurses was a classic example of demand exceeding supply, resulting in higher prices, and nothing more…He also had an ad published in the newspapers that admonished citizens to cease bothering the black nurses as they went about town to do their work.

Dr. Rush, though wrong about remedies, was right about his initial warnings that the illness was yellow fever; he also labored long hours to bring comfort to the afflicted. He died in 1813, widely esteemed a hero by his fellow citizens.

People in nearby cities and adjacent states pitched in to help the City of Brotherly Love while the illness raged. New Yorkers were first with a gift to Philadelphia of $5,000—a substantial sum in those days and the start of a cascade of philanthropy for Philly. According to Powell,

The news of $5,000 from New York spread about the city like a tonic. It was, Editor Brown proclaimed, an act of noble sympathy and generosity. And as other donations poured in, the Committee (of Mayor Clarkson’s creation) wisely gave publicity to them all, even the smallest. Brown’s columns soon were filled with letters from villages, townships, counties, congregations, and synods, all conveying gifts of some kind to the Mayor’s care. The distraught citizens could take heart. They were not alone in misfortune. All America was sharing their burden.

None of that giving was required by anybody. It was simply what Americans did, from the depths of their giving hearts, without mandates from on high. The Philadelphia epidemic of 1793 was one of the new country’s earliest and best examples of the cascade of private charity that defined the nation for the next two centuries.

Yellow fever outbreaks in Philadelphia occurred again during the last three years of the 1790s. None, fortunately, were as lethal and widespread as the 1793 episode.

All these many decades later, perhaps the applicable lessons for today of Philadelphia’s experience then are few and limited. For sure, it’s a tribute to the city that it rallied and prospered, thanks to the initiative of its citizens and the freedoms the nation as a whole enjoyed in its early decades. Half a century after the epidemic, Philadelphia was a bustling city of 122,000 people—two and a half times its size on the eve of the 1793 disaster.

COLUMN BY

Reopen America Now!

Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, was a beautiful sunny day. Mary and I left our West Virginia home to make the 40-mile trek to Walmart and Home Depot in Virginia. We drove past a Virginia megachurch which usually has state cops directing traffic for the congregation. The parking lot was empty with a large “closed” sign. Meanwhile, Walmart and Home Depot parking lots were packed.

Around 50% of shoppers wore masks. Absurdly, I saw toddlers wearing masks which were particularly annoying. Professor Dolores J. Cahill, PhD is a highly credentialed and respected Immunologist and Molecular Biologist. Prof. Cahill, world-renowned Dr. Russel Blaylock, Dr. Judy Mikovits, and countless other scientists around the world say wearing masks is dangerous.

Prof. Cahill explains that coronavirus is not transmitted through the air. It is transmitted through droplets on surfaces. Therefore, there is absolutely no need to wear a mask and no need for social distancing. Prof. Cahill says when you are covered with a mask, you have less oxygen which puts your immune system under stress. Because you are under immune stress, latent viruses in your body will reappear. You will have more coronavirus and other latent viruses will reemerge. Bottom line, fake news media insidiously hyping fear is harming children. Which is not new. Everything leftists cram down the throats of the public always harms people.

At Home Depot, not only did the young woman who mixed my paint wear a mask, she spoke to me from behind a Plexiglas window. Stopping for gas at a tiny West Virginia convenience store, a masked staffer stood guard at the door restricting the number of customers allowed inside. The two checkout clerks worked from behind newly installed glass walls; both wore masks. Dollar General had strips of Duct tape 6 feet apart on the sidewalk to ensure that patrons social distanced outside.

Health experts’ predictions of catastrophic deaths were wrong. Over 98% of people who get coronavirus recover. And yet, in just a few months, fear and political exploitation have taken us from a booming economy to living in a nightmare apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Americans are suffering Great Depression levels of unemployment, over-stressed food banks, skyrocketing suicides, and Democrats urinating on the Constitution, declaring themselves our supreme dictators. Observing all the extreme restrictions and precautions, I thought, “Dear Lord, we are experiencing nationwide hysteria.”

My skin crawls whenever I hear fake news media and Democrats on TV scolding and branding Americans selfish for desiring to reopen their businesses to serve the public and feed their families.

Always believing themselves smarter than God, wicked Democrats are actually advocating that we social distance from now on. God built us to withstand viruses. And yet, these arrogant knuckleheads say humans must never again interact the way they have since the beginning of time. Every day, I ask myself, “What on earth is wrong with these people?”

Back in April when Trump announced plans to reopen America, I noticed that Democrat and a few RINO governors immediately tripled down on their crazy edicts such as all shoppers must wear masks. Their wicked game plan is to stop America from reopening and convince voters that Trump is deadly.

Despite Trump proven innocent, Democrats continue promoting the lie that Trump stole the presidency via collusion with Russia. They impeached him, falsely accusing him of making illegal demands on a phone call with the president of Ukraine. These illegal schemes along with others have failed to end Trump’s presidency. Using the coronavirus lock-down to destroy the American economy is Democrats’ and fake news medias’ last hope of removing this pro-Christian, America-first Neanderthal from the Oval Office.

Therefore, these months leading to the November election are going to be a battle like you have never seen before. If you think Democrats and fake news media have behaved badly thus far, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

In June, Mary and I will leave our almost-Heaven West Virginia home, flying to the West Coast to tour with the Conservative Campaign Committee on their “Operation Restore America” initiative.

A guy sent me an email saying both political parties are corrupt. While that may be true, we cannot stop fighting to turn our country around. God miraculously gave us President Trump. Realizing that the Israelites prevailed in battle when Moses’ hands were in the air, Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms. We must hold up Trump’s arms to make America great again, again.

America recently celebrated Memorial Day. It would be a devastating slap in the face to the brave men and women who died for our freedom to allow Democrats and fake news media to transform us into a socialist/communist nation.

Unfortunately, fake news media has so successfully filled some conservatives with fear of coronavirus that they accept Democrats repealing our constitutional liberties. Incredibly, they want this unnecessary lock-down which is literally destroying our country to continue.

Folks, those of us who love freedom and America must be the adults in the room, firmly demanding that this insane lock-down end immediately. God is on our side.

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