It now appears that he, or whoever is running the show, plans to govern to the “woke” side of Bernie
During the 2020 presidential campaign, President Joe Biden presented himself as the candidate who would restore normalcy to the presidency, and rationality — “We will follow the science” — to policymaking. Indeed, in the wake of his victory, his supporters spoke as if no rational defense could be made of any of his predecessor’s policies, and the best course would be simply to execute a 180-degree turn on those policies and institute some sort of reprogramming or re-education for the 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump.
Biden also promised to unite rather than divide Americans — though how that would be done, while describing those on the other side of the political divide as lacking all rationality and needing reeducation, was never made clear.
Yet if we examine the 17 executive orders issued on President Biden’s first day in office, and some of his early appointments, it soon becomes clear that he intends to govern as a progressive — i.e., as a worshipper of a secular catechism, from which scientific thinking is banned.
Predictably, President Biden’s inauguration speech was a sustained call for unity over division, for empathy over hatred. And in the main, he carried it off well. Yet there were a few tin notes as well. For me, at least, they included the invocation of rising “white supremacy” and “systemic racism.”
He spoke of “growing inequity,” not of growing inequality. The latter refers to the equality of rights. The former — “inequity” — like “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” — is the language of contemporary critical race theory (CRT), which asserts that any difference in outcomes, whether with respect to rates of school discipline, incarceration, or income, can only be explained by “systemic racism.”
And it was a bit amusing to find President Biden, a serial fabulist his entire political career, speaking as if the central political divide in America is between the forces of truth and those of lies: “There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power or profit.”
THE FIRST DAY executive order with the most immediate impact was that rescinding the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone Pipeline. Though the order is sure to be challenged in court, its immediate effect was to cost over 10,000 American union workers on the pipeline their jobs. It also blindsided America’s closest neighbor and largest trading partner, Canada.
President Biden made climate change one of the central pillars of his campaign, and the shutting down of the Keystone Pipeline was a clear payback to his climate change constituency.
Already in 2015, the State Department determined that the pipeline would have little, if any, impact on carbon emissions. The oil in Canadian tar pits is coming out of the ground one way or another, as long as there is a demand for oil. The only question is will it be sold to the Chinese or contribute to American energy independence, while providing American jobs. And for good measure, pipelines are far safer from an environmental standpoint than transporting oil by rail, given the constant danger of derailment.
In short, cancellation of the pipeline is a purely ritualistic sacrifice to the environmental gods, albeit one with serious negative consequences. The cancellation revealed once again — as did the coronavirus lockdowns — our cultural elites’ almost total lack of concern for the jobs of low- and middle-income manual laborers or the livelihoods of small-business owners.
Even more counterproductive was another executive order banning all new drilling permits and fracking on federal lands and offshore waters. Over the last ten years, the United States has been able to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent — by far the largest decline in the world — largely due to fracking.
All that will be achieved is that natural gas prices will rise, reducing American energy independence and increasing the incentive for coal power generation. Again, ritualistic symbolic policy, at cross-purposes with the goals it is designed to achieve.
Far from following the science, President Biden touts renewables — wind power and solar power — blissfully unaware of the intractable battery storage problem when the sun doesn’t shine and/or the wind does not blow, or the environmental damage from the battery production, or from the production and disposal of turbines.
Nor has Biden ever uttered a word in favor of nuclear power, the one genuinely clean energy source. All in all, this is policy dictated more by feel-good virtue signaling than by science.
THE PRESIDENT’S ORDER that no school receiving federal funding can deny students the right to participate in sports based on their gender identification amounts to outright science denial. Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports is tantamount to allowing motorcyclists in bicycling races, on the grounds that that they identify as bicyclists. Consider that in 2018, 300 male high school runners posted times in the 400 meters faster than the female world record holder that year. From the onset of puberty, men are on average so much stronger and faster than women that they cannot meaningfully compete.
The solicitude for male athletes claiming to “identify” as females is a prime example of how the new identity politics works. It starts with a hierarchy of oppression, which, at the current moment, places those claiming to identify as something other than their biological gender at the top of the list. And thus the “rights” of an infinitesimal percentage of the population are held to trump those of all women and girls participating in competitive sports.
Biden was simply swept up in a general obsession on the left with gender identity. The House Democratic leadership, for instance, just promulgated a new set of House rules that bans the use of all gender-specific words such as father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, and uncle. It will be harder to forge national unity in a country where one side of the political spectrum appears to have gone stark raving mad.
IN ANOTHER LITTLE NOTED NOD to the woke brigades, President Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s ban on the instruction of federal employees in critical race theory (CRT). While I doubt that Biden has read much of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist, he has always had a politician’s talent for inflaming the sense of grievance that lies at the heart of CRT: He once assured a black audience that the Republicans were “going to put you all back in chains.”
Kendi proposes a constitutional ban on “inequities” — that word again — in outcomes. And to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the new president has selected a Kendi fellow traveler, Kristen Clarke. No wonder she believes that inequities can only be explained by systemic racism: As a Harvard undergraduate, she penned a Crimson op-ed arguing that blacks have superior physical and mental abilities. She recently told Tucker Carlson that employers should put a “premium” on skin color even for such high-skill, high-impact professions as brain surgery and airplane pilots.
While a student at Harvard Law School, she invited controversial Wellesley professor Tony Martin, author of The Jewish Onslaught, to speak, and subsequently defended his attack on the Torah, Talmud, and Maimonides as racist texts, as based on “indisputable fact.”
Such anti-Semitism often goes hand in hand with CRT, or its subdiscipline, “ethnic studies.” The recent proposed ethnic studies curriculum for California schools is a case in point. Emily Benedek in Tablet provides a taste of the discipline: “Ethnic Studies is about people whose cultures, hxrstories [sic], and social positionalities are forever changing and evolving.” Capitalism is described as a form of “power and oppression.” Among the multiple minority groups described, Jews are not listed, but the BDS movement is lauded as a global movement “to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” Its explicit goal of eliminating Israel is ignored.
Well, this should certainly bring Americans together.
Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination for one reason: Despite a desultory performance, he was the last non–Bernie Sanders standing. But it now appears that he, or whoever is running the show, plans to govern to the “woke” side of Bernie — who, as an old-fashioned Marxist, thought in terms of class, not skin color.
The first in an intermittent series on President Biden’s first 100 days
Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 849. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at email@example.com
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