Mélange 7/27/17

  1. The point at which many colleges crack
  2. POTUS’s Trans Tweets
  3. The closer you look, the less he says
  4. Fusion GPS
  5. CRISPR
  6. The return of Lysenko

1

The expansion of the scope of Title IX legislation by the Obama administration makes colleges that hold to traditional Christian moral positions on homosexuality and transgenderism vulnerable to loss of government funding and to damaging legal actions. We might add the related matter of accreditation: Failure to conform to Title IX will be punished with notations and probable loss of accreditation. Perhaps even more deadly than these threats is the role of the NCAA, as schools that are not “friendly” to LGBTQI students will find that they are unable to compete in sporting events. Sadly, while the choice between sport and one’s faith should not merit a second thought, I expect that this will be the point at which many colleges crack.

Christian colleges cannot win merely by shouting Bible verses, however sophisticated their idiom. Nor will they win by good old-fashioned arguments resting on logic and reason. That’s not how it works any more.

I became acutely aware of the latter fact some years ago, when I was challenged by a student while delivering a guest lecture on gay marriage at a very conservative Christian college. My arguments did not work, because . . . well, they were arguments, and did not take into account how the mind of my young critic had been formed. She had not been convinced by any argument. Her imagination had been seized by an aesthetically driven culture, in which taste was truth and Will and Gracecarried more weight than any church catechism or tome of moral philosophy.

(Carl Trueman, H/T Rod Dreher)

To hell with accreditation, if that be the consequence. Easy for me to say, as I don’t head a Christian college or university.

2

It’s an interesting coincidence to me personally that Trump tweeted his change in military policy about transgendered people on Wednesday morning, as I was thinking about such things, unbidden, that same morning.

My concern was and remains whether the Democrats (mostly) were turning important institutions like the military into social laboratories, to the possible detriment of their effectiveness, and whether Trump would dare grasp that nettle or even think about the subject seriously. I wasn’t thinking about the financial cost or personnel challenges of gender reassignment surgery, but of things like “unit cohesion,” which used to be the rubric for excluding some from the military. As one wag put it, “many soldiers don’t want to shower with guys who want to shower with guys.”

Let me try to be clear that I did not serve in the military and I have no creditable opinion on what does or doesn’t disrupt “unit cohesion.” No General who wants career advancement will dare object aloud to Administration policy, so how’s an amateur to know except by, y’know, thinking about it?

Evaluate the following on your own:

  • I think social standards on sexual minorities in the military  could evolve. Of course, it already has among the elites who dare express opinions aloud, but I’m thinking about bottom-up social standards based on what military rank and file can fully tolerate. It’s not a law of the physics that gays shouldn’t be in the Army because it will give others the willies. There might come a day when it wouldn’t give anyone the willies, and that day may even be here already.
  • I very much doubt that everybody’s cool, though, cohesion-wise, with transgender people.
  • I do have enough experience in life to think that “the willies” will express themselves, if they’re felt at all, regardless of top-down commands to “keep your willies to yourself.” We have not been notably successful at top-down eradication of sexual harassment and school bullying, have we?
  • I think the maintenance of a maximally effective fighting force trumps LGBTQWERTY concerns. I disagree with those who seem to think in principle that equality is more important than military effectiveness. (Those folks who are angry now will be sorry if ISIS starts beheading guys in pink shirts on South Beach because we missed, even by a hair, being strong enough to repel them.)

Every American is qualified to ask whether political pandering is trumping (if you’ll pardon the expression) sound military policy — either Wednesday morning or at Team Obama’s antecedent decree, now seemingly countermanded.

As for Trump:

He does good things, and he does bad things, but he does all things against a backdrop of impulsiveness, chaos, and divisiveness that undermines sound polices even as it does immense damage to the body politic … It’s much easier just to tweet.

(David French) Some are already saying that his Executive Tweets are dead on arrival. Other’s are suffering the vapors and adding a count to their articles of impeachment.

3

I ought to have no horse in this race, but people notice what goes on in the Roman Catholic Church, and its defection on some point would be a big deal.

Which brings us (abruptly) to Fr. James Martin:

This will likely be my last article regarding Jesuit Fr. James Martin (cue the applause, right?). Why the last article? Because the more he has talked about his new book on “building a bridge” between the Church’s “hierarchy” and the “LGBT community,” the less he is really saying. It’s as though he is disappearing ever more deeply into that “LGBT Catholic Bubble” that encompasses his entire project—and what good is a “bridge in a bubble”? As the newness of it fades and the limelight flickers, there will be hardly anything to say. It will already have been said.

Anyone who, like me, has followed every last media opportunity Martin has had in promotion of the book will know that he is re-hashing the same talking points over and over again. Every media outlet that covers the book gets the same boilerplate replies that amount to a studied strategy of ambiguity that is intended to maximize encroachment of the “LGBT community” into the heart of the Church while minimizingthe effect that the truth of Catholic teaching could have on that same community.

Already, this hide-and-seek approach to supposed “dialogue” is getting really, really old.

(Deacon Jim Russell)

4

A witness expected to testify at Thursday’s rescheduled hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee may shed some light on Russian interference in the 2016 election ….

(Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web) Today, William Browder is to testify in person following release of his prepared testimony. The Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Wednesday afternoon thinks Browder will complicate the narrative that’s been developing.

I’ve read the prepared testimony and a Washington Post story on Fusion GPS, “a small Washington opposition research firm.” It’s quite a confusing story, but putting the two major newspaper stories and Browder’s testimony together, I think  that Fusion GPS worked both for Natalia Veselnitskaya, perhaps as an unlawfully unregistered foreign agent, and also to dig up dirt against Trump, probably on behalf of Democrats.

At the risk of rant, I must ask: Can the President let Browder have the limelight today?

5

“Mr. President: We need a presidential bioethics/biotechnology commission now!” (Wesley J. Smith)

What odds would you give that on happening?

6

“LGBT Lysenkoism”seems like a very apt coinage for the direction in which the United States is moving, with Sweden further down that path than we are. If you don’t know what Lysenkoism is, follow the link. It helped lead to some of the starvation in Russia.

This item feels more important than the length I’ve afforded for it.

* * * * *

Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.