Published December 3, 2021
Women who get out of abusive relationships sometimes say that what gave them the courage to finally leave was the recognition that the abuser had turned his attention to her children. Actions that were overlooked or excused away for herself are seen with clarity and horror when directed at her child.
For years, many of us have overlooked woke manipulation tactics when they were directed at us. “Ok, maybe I have harbored some deep-seated racism of which I have been entirely unaware, and which has never manifested itself in any concrete, culpable act. Mea culpa anyway! I will raise my fist and take a knee, say the words I am supposed to say, be silent when told, and commit to doing the lifelong work of constantly interrogating my inner world for subconscious biases, knowing that I will always be complicit in evil because I am white. Can I go about my business? Or would you like to do a social justice riot on it?
“And yes, corporate overlords, every June please do send me an email from every company I’ve ever patronized telling me to enjoy a transgender burrito at your business, or to #rideproud on your exercise bicycle, and scoop up my ‘love is love’ non-binary tote bag. Such gestures of celebration are the least I can do to compensate for my hegemonic bigotry. I am a bit uncomfortable with the idea that some women have penises so perhaps I deserve this.”
But such coercive manipulation was never supposed to stop with adults, and in fact they were just grooming you to get at your kid.
It is an effective strategy. When transgender story hours garnered national attention, many stared quizzically at videos of woke moms across America clapping and nodding while little Ashleigh and Aster learned to twerk from men in heels and minis at the local library.
Even non-woke parents, long exposed to propaganda from multiple directions, tend to translate relentless woke messaging into something more benign. For example, the song “Freak Flag” in Shrek the Musical urges kids that society needs to change and embrace how “freaking strange” the show’s heroes are. “Let your freak flag fly. Never take it down, never take it down, raise it way up high!”
This relentless message to children to embrace their inner freak is woven almost ubiquitously in most any new media directed at them. A calculated ambiguity allows for an innocuous interpretation by the average viewer. Maybe little Cindy has a large birthmark on her face and needs this message. Or Johnny has a disability, and this helps him feel less self-conscious. These are fine and good lessons in such contexts.
But over the past year the escalation of radical gender ideology in schools has laid bare what the intent was all along. Your kids are theirs to shape in accord with an ideology that identifies progress with the development of a collectivist mindset and the dismantling of sexual normativity and bodily meaning. You want to be able to be anything? First you must mean nothing.
Historicism in the Nursery
Innocence is dominance, according to the ideology. If persons are defined by evil according to the collectivist mindset of CRT, then any denial of bigotry—any claim of innocence by a person in an oppressor group—must be rejected as further evidence of their implication in the evil of the system. According to radical gender ideology, the child’s innocence must be disrupted because it is ignorance of alternative sexualities that perpetuates the dominant Western concept of moral law and of bodily meaning.
Examples are legion. In recently leaked documents and audio from the California Teachers Association Conference, educators disclose the various tactics they deploy in introducing and recruiting middle schoolers into clubs that prompt them to question their gender and sexuality. Included as tactics: surveilling students’ internet activity and ways to win them back should they lose interest.
In New Hampshire, a high school athlete was suspended from a football game for the unapproved speech of telling another student that a man is a man and a woman is a woman.
Various school libraries have been caught carrying books featuring sex-positive portrayals of pedophilia and pornography including, among other things, boy-on-man fellatio. “Educational” materials such as Gender Unicorns and the Gender Bread Person aim to rewire younger minds by introducing gender fluidity and polymorphous perversion into their minds and imaginations, all out of the reach of parental supervision.
This is not about tolerance or anti-bullying. It is about grooming pliable minds and bodies in ways that create the tumult needed for cultural revolution in service of hastening “historical progress.”
The Game is Up
But a funny thing happened on the way to the bacchanal—parents began seeing through it, and in that process their eyes were opened to the way this sort of abusive manipulation has been at play all along. The Woke have poked the Mama Bears. And the Papa Bears. And perhaps some formerly Non-Binary Bears. There is such a thing, according to a new curriculum aimed at K-2 in which a teddy bear learns that he was misgendered by his parents and that he is actually a she, but I digress.
Once seen, abusive manipulation is hard to unsee. The old tricks that worked so well before lose their power with exposure. But the Woke cannot help themselves and—like an abuser sensing he is losing control—they escalate, intimidate, coerce, and double down.
In the wake of the successful Parent Bear movement in Virginia, the Left’s usual accusations—that voters were animated by white supremacy—rang not just hollow, but absurd and repugnant. Pornography was peddled to minors, the rape of a minor girl by a boy in a skirt in the school bathroom was covered up, children were indoctrinated into the despair of a collectivist mindset bent on implicating and exonerating them according to their race. And in response to such rampant and reasonable concerns the teachers union branded them racists and colluded with the attorney general to weaponize the FBI against them.
As many have noted, this will not stop until it is stopped. Progressivism by its nature does not limit itself. According to the dialectic at the core of the movement, the society develops, like an organism, and progresses through time perfecting itself through a process of revolting and synthesizing, eventually achieving a utopian state.
In this framework we see the structure of the modern progressive movement which judges the present with the perfected vantage point of the imagined future, and never with the wisdom of the past. For the progressive, the wisdom of the past is something from which we can learn little but can condemn much. The modern obsession with being on the “right side of History” is not born of reverence for the past but out of hatred of it. There is no internal limiting principle in a race to revolution, and so the envelope must be pushed and prodded and deconstructed and reengineered into oblivion. That is Progress.
Until we stop it.
What we saw in Virginia can serve as a road map moving forward. When dealing with an abusive narcissist, the only response is to marginalize him, to not give him an ounce of credibility, and to hold fast to the clarity of one who has seen him for what he is. Our response to manipulation should be simple and plain: we see it, we see through it, and it has no power over us.
Noelle Mering is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is the author of Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology, an editor for the website Theology of Home, and a coauthor of Theology of Home the book.