Damned by history forever

Super-right-on dude Owen Jones tweeted a classic of mindless phrase-mongering a couple of days ago.


Imagine being an opponent of trans rights and believing this was the one exception of history looking kindly on opponents of a struggle for minority rights. It is not going to happen. You are a) going to lose and b) be damned by history forever.

Why is that mindless?

One, because he is talking, of course, not about people who actually are “opponents of trans rights” but people who disagree that “identify as” is a magic phrase when it comes to sex but not when it comes to anything else. Two, because he is assuming that all “struggles for minority rights” are progressive and awesome and to be cheered on. It’s all formula and no thought.

On the first: I don’t know of anyone who thinks trans people should not have rights. The disagreement is over what is in fact a right. The core contested “right” in this dispute is the “right” to have one’s self-description accepted instantly and without question no matter what…in the case of trans people but not other people. Gender-critical types are not convinced that this is a genuine right.

How could it be a genuine right? If you try to apply it to other possible “identities” and self-descriptions its absurdity becomes immediately obvious. We’ve heard the strenuous efforts to explain why it works for sex but not for race or nationality or ethnicity or profession, but we don’t find them convincing. There is no such “right” as the right to compel the rest of the world to accept your personal conception of yourself. Would we even like it if there were? Hardly. It’s that basic morality issue: it might be great fun for you but how would it work if everyone did it? Badly, therefore you don’t get to be the one exception.

On the second: it’s just laughable that Owen Jones assumes all “struggles for minority rights” are good things. How difficult is it to think of minorities that are ruthless and power-hungry and cruel? White supremacists are a minority, Nazis are a minority, mass murderers are a minority, Ponzi schemers are a minority. Members of those groups as individuals have human rights, but do we want their groups to have rights particular to them? Nope. Jones didn’t actually mean “struggles for minority rights” – he meant something more like “struggles for approved-minority rights,”  but then that just begs the question. If the minority “right” in question is “Accept my claim about my sex no matter what” then we don’t agree that it’s a genuine right, and the word “minority” doesn’t change that.

There’s so much bad, impoverished, sloppy thinking behind this whole thing, and so much bullying substituted for actual thought, that it’s a tragedy. I think that’s what history is going to damn.

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