Mitch Hall’s recent article in The Federalist about the attempt to force a transgender agenda onto fraternities and sororities provoked a ferocious reaction from some of his fellow students at William & Mary, who attempted to cast him out as an unperson.
What really leaped out at me from this response was the following passage, which I suspect explains a lot of the motive behind this fanatically enforced orthodoxy.
“All that ‘typical guy stuff’ you hold so near and dear: have you considered that it’s actually extremely alienating for guys who differ from antiquated masculine norms? Many men like me who are queer-identified and/or comfortable with their femininity do not relate to the dickswinging contest nonsense that (mostly straight and white) men in fraternities apparently find so sacred. Your perspective has led you to believe that these rituals are essential for all men, when actually, not all men relate to your sh—y brand of toxic masculinity.”
So this enlightened progressive just derided another person’s sexual orientation and gender identity as “toxic.” Yay, tolerance!
In their crusade for “inclusion,” these fake advocates of tolerance are actually installing a new social stigma in place of the old ones—a stigma against “antiquated” traditional masculinity. They replace “homophobia” with their own brand of prejudice. Call it “brophobia.”
Ah, but I hear them argue, those swaggering frat-boy bros are a threat to the safety and delicate feelings of the transgendered and “queer-identified.” So what they’re saying, then, is that just because of someone’s gender identity they assume he must be dangerous—that he must be a potential bully or rapist. Real tolerant and open-minded there. These people are so brophobic they can’t even see their brophobia.
Spurred on by their irrational fear and hatred of the biologically male and traditionally masculine, these new campus bigots seek to shame people for their gender identity, accusing them of personal entitlement and “rape culture.” And in certain cases, they are eager to believe the gaudiest, most unbelievable accusations against the them just because they are members of an “othered” group. It’s virulent brophobia.
Obviously, I’m turning their own terminology and style of argument against them, in order to expose the basic dishonesty of their philosophy. This is the left’s usual pattern of pretending to stand above prejudice while actually just peddling a new and different system of prejudice. To be against “othering” the gay and transgendered, they assume they have to “other” the bros.
Brophobia has a long history, in many forms, including the “revenge of the nerds” variety which favors the geeky outsiders over the (presumably) shallow cool kids. But now this kind of schoolyard reverse cliquishness has been given a political meaning, and not just that but a political meaning with a nasty totalitarian edge to it.
The stoking of brophobia reflects the left’s basic problem with the concept of “tolerance.” They use the word to mean, “advocacy on behalf of groups we like and against groups we don’t like,” which is the exact opposite of its actual meaning. Tolerance is supposed to mean tolerance specifically of people you don’t like. That’s why you’re “tolerating” them—you don’t like them, but you’ve agreed to put up with them anyway, to recognize their right to live and speak, and to engage them in a civil way.
But see the reactions to Mitch’s piece, particularly as you go down in the Facebook comments, most of which seem to be from fellow students. What you will find is that tolerance for the views of people who don’t agree with them is exactly what the so-called progressive don’t want and cannot handle. You see comments like: “I’m really disgusted that he was given a platform,” “literally shaking I’m so angry,” “SOS SOS SOS,” and my favorite: “if this article was triggering for anyone I would not recommend delving into the comments—some readers/commenters use deeply offensive language and there is heavy support for the author’s message.” Boy, Millennials really live down to that “snowflake” caricature, don’t they?
This is absolutely typical of the rising generation indoctrinated on college campuses (and often earlier). Nobody you dislike, nobody who disagrees with you should ever get a hearing. Their views shouldn’t even be allowed to assault your delicate ears.
It’s important to remember that the contemporary code of Political Correctness emerged from an actual, literal totalitarian ideology. Karl Marx argued that all of culture—ideas, religion, art, everything—was just a “superstructure” built to disguise and perpetuate the real foundation of society, which was the economic relationship between labor and capital. Modern neo-Marxists turned this idea into the slogan that “the personal is the political,” which was the origin for the concept of Political Correctness. In this philosophy, there is no such thing as an apolitical “private life,” and everything a person does, their every preference, every aspect of their personal identity can be judged for its political meaning and conformity to the right causes. But the new Marxists also conceived of the underlying “base” of human life more broadly: it was not just the struggle between the worker and the capitalist, but the struggles for power among social pressure groups based on “race, class, and gender.”
Everything else, including all of that stuff about free speech and civil discourse and the exchange of ideas, is all dismissed as meaningless. The only real question is: which group do you back? If you back the right groups, if you’re on the side of the LGBTQ and whatever other letters are currently added to the acronym, then you are acceptable. If you are marked as being in a different group with different interests—such as a male heterosexual frat boy, i.e., a bro—then you are the enemy.
So despite all the posturing about being “inclusive,” this is not and never was about tolerance. It’s about a battle between rival in-groups, just with the groups reversed. Which is also a prescription for never-ending conflict and mutual intolerance.