The Bruce Jenner/Rachel Dolezal clown show has provided an interesting view into the anti-science and anti-logic core underpinning much of progressivism.
In short, Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, identified as a black woman. She undertook some minor cosmetic adjustments and navigated the race-industrial complex with such success that she received prominence as a black woman. This is much the same way that Ward Churchill and [mc_name name=’Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’W000817′ ] strongly identified as American Indian. Though, in Ms. Dolezal’s defense, she identified as a black woman even when it did not gain her a position as tenured faculty. However, Dolezal has now been forced from her job with the Spokane (WA) NAACP and her gig as a part-time teacher of “Africana Studies” as Eastern Washington University. Presumably her scholarship was fine until she was outed as melanin challenged.
On the other hand, Bruce Jenner decides he wishes to masquerade as a pseudo-woman. He gets the superficial surgical alterations (he hasn’t taken the plunge and embarked on the surgical alteration of his genitalia), he appears on the cover of a major magazine in lingerie, he’s able to kill people on the highway without legal repercussions, he gets an ESPN “Courage” award (presumably for his shameless attention whoring) and despite the fact that he has been married and “fathered” children we are now supposed to go along with his particular fantasy.
David French, writing at National Review, is spot on in Rachel Dolezal Is Blacker Than Bruce Jenner Is Female:
The difference here is ideology, specifically the ideological demands of the sexual revolution. So long as consenting adults are involved, the sexual revolutionary reasons backwards from transgressive sexual morality. The heart wants what it wants, and the rest is details (plus a healthy dose of angry activism directed at dissenters). The argument has long been that much human pain is the result of denying the heart its deepest desires, that the path of indulgence is the path of human flourishing. So if Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman, then he’s a woman.
The politics of race have evolved differently in the United States. For the Left, race is so much a matter of a precise, lived experience — combined with a specific cultural and ideological response — that there is no room for even the darkest-skinned of dissenters. Dolezal didn’t live the experience long enough, and she could drop her “blackness” anytime she wanted, so despite the apparent deep desires of her own heart, she’s not black. If you’re looking for logic in this distinction, you’ve come to the wrong movement. The categories are set — at least until the Left changes its mind.
Even within the context of the left’s own arguments you see the utter imbecility clawing its way out of the very thin-shelled egg. French quotes Atlantic contributor Tai-Nehesi Coates on the subject:
Andrew [Sullivan] writes that liberals should stop saying “truly stupid things like race has no biological element.” I agree. Race clearly has a biological element — because we have awarded it one. Race is no more dependent on skin color today than it was on “Frankishness” in Emerson’s day. Over history of race has taken geography, language, and vague impressions as its basis.
“Race,” writes the great historian Nell Irvin Painter, “is an idea, not a fact.” Indeed. Race does not need biology. Race only requires some good guys with big guns looking for a reason.
Painter is not exactly correct, which is to be expected when any progressive academic grapples with a quantitative subject. There are identifiable genetic markers associated with race.
But even were Painter correct, then Dolezal committed a minor deception, a deception that may only exist in the eyes of the beholder.
Sex, however, is not a “social construct.” Men and women can be differentiated not only by DNA but by skeletal analysis… and some would say by driving ability. How the left is trying to ignore this fact is by claiming that “gender” is fluid and mutable either that or it is unchanging and immutable depending upon the situation. For instance, Bruce Jenner can declare he is a woman and this proves gender is unrelated to sex. Well known scientific authority Miley Cyrus can claim to change her gender independent of her genitalia. But in California while there is no problem with a battalion of psychiatrists working 80-hour weeks to help Jenner adjust to what he’s always been… an awesome penis-equipped woman… it is illegal to assist a homosexual male to change to a state that he’s supposed to be able to change to on his own. It is all very confusing, you know.
It is so confusing, in fact, that Jonathan Capehart, a Washington Post columnist who once chased a laser dot on a wall for 6 consecutive hours, has to say that the difference between Jenner and Dolezal is “deception.” Because Jenner, apparently was open about being a woman while he was impregnating his wife. Capehart quotes some guy named “Rafi D’Angelo” who writes for Slate as saying:
Gender is an expression of an inner self’s need to perform, present, and be perceived as male or female.
Like race, gender expression is highly variable. Society says Men Look/Behave This Way and Women Are The Opposite, though a lot of us blur those lines and perform gender in a way that fits us personally. The difference between perception of race and perception of gender is, Random White Man can perform his gender as 25% female and still identify as male. He cannot be 25% Black and still identify as white. (You can’t be 25% female, I’m just drawing a comparison.)…
One last strike against anyone claiming to be transracial: It only works one way. Only white people can claim to be another race on the inside and then “perform” that race because race operates with white as the default. Racial classifications are based on deviations FROM whiteness.
To be charitable, this is gibberish. If gender is anything other than psychosis, one has to realize that no matter what the “inner self needs”, the odds of Jenner ever giving birth, or at his age, going through menopause, approach zero. Race is not based on a “deviations from whiteness.” Ask any black man who has been in Korea, Japan, or Vietnam. You can even ask a black professor who was recruited to a South Korean university.
A Korean professor who is a fan of mine has been recruiting me to join her university. She secretly let me know her colleagues pushed back. One concern: I might be too independent. She says that Korean professors typically seek colleagues who won’t challenge them, so I will need to show humility.
Two, citing my career, they worried that I might not be satisfied with their lesser known university (Harvard graduate, previously taught at Yonsei University as a young man, and have worked at high profile organizations in both the USA and South Korea). In previous job searches, I have responded to the “overqualified” point by saying: “If you think I am overqualified then you should watch me work for a week.”
She listed a few other things, but the grand finale: They needed to be sure that I am not “completely black.”
It sounded like a joke, but she was sincere, as always. She said her colleagues were worried because they “know” that black people fight with white people. That university certainly wouldn’t want to hire a one-man riot who would burn, baby burn the university. She said they concluded that I might be mixed race, and debated what percentage black I am, and wondered about the racial makeup of my parents and grandparents.
And just as Dolezal showed that the technology is available to enable a person who identifies as black to create a plausible patina, so, too, Michael Jackson, who evidently identified as “white” did the same thing. In fact, cross ethnic plastic surgery is not only real, it is a booming business.
French is right. Dolezal is much closer to being a black woman than Bruce Jenner will ever be to being an elderly white woman. As Jonah Goldberg writes:
Bruce Jenner was 65 years old when he decided to be a she, but that’s not why Caitlyn can’t have a baby. Figuratively speaking, removing the spigot won’t change the rest of the plumbing. That’s not patriarchal oppression talking. That’s science. And no matter how fluid gender may or may not be, the biological category of “female” isn’t going away anytime soon.
I have sympathy for people who are convinced they were born the wrong sex. But feeling oppressed by a category doesn’t render that category illegitimate or unreal. (Short people may resent being short, but that doesn’t nullify the concept of height.)
While all of this is politically amusing and provides unlimited material to troll liberals and libertarians [see the image on this page] there is a sad undercurrent. Bruce Jenner is obviously a very troubled man. It is no coincidence that an estimated 41% of transsexuals have made some sort of suicide attempt. This number is very similar to the percentage of persons with a mental illness who will attempt suicide. Dolezal is a troubled woman, but of a much more benign sort. It is hard to say that they are in the same universe when it comes to the scope of the problem. Dolezal can at least make a plausible case for identifying as black based on her adopted siblings being a major influence in her life. She may have lied and embellished some parts of her biography, but it isn’t anything politicians haven’t been doing since before John Kerry did his one-man invasion of Cambodia. Genetically, it is a sure bet that she has some African markers. Jenner, on the other hand, is just a man sucking us into his self-delusion.