I love Bookshop.org and would happily recommend it to anyone as an alternative to Amazon or its subsidiaries like AbeBooks.
Inevitably, their politics are left-of-center. Those politics are trumpeted pretty loudly, as in this list they’re promoting called “Books About Being Queer in a Country Where It’s Illegal.”
This is my favorite genre of progressivism: the Alternate History Panic Attack. It’s like those women who go to pro-choice rallies dressed up as breeders from Handmaid’s Tale. Get it? If they repeal Roe v. Wade, women will be kept in sexual slavery and used only to breed babies!
Of course, that’s not what life was like before Roe. Why it should be the case afterwards? Why would it look like a sci-fi dystopia and not… uh, the early Seventies?
I have to assume that’s what this list is about: the future of LGBTQA2S+ Americans if that infamous puritan Donald Trump makes a comeback in 2024.
So, I read the blurbs of the seven books on the list just to confirm that they had nothing to do with the United States. Sure enough, of those seven, two are works of fiction. Two are about the Middle East, and two are about Africa. One is set in the U.S., but it apparently deals with the “homophobia” of first-generation immigrants from China.
So, yeah. That’s apparently the game here. “We have to be vigilant about defending queer rights, lest we become like (checks notes) brown people and immigrants!”
In a recent op-ed for the New Hampshire Union-Leader, I wrote about this tension between the Left’s libertinism and their multiculturalism. Progressives may believe that all proponents of traditional marriage are mere bigots. Yet that means that, aside from white Westerners, the world is chock full of bigots. Most people in Latin America, Africa, and Asia don’t believe in gay marriage. Most of them probably don’t even think that homosexuality should be legal.
Is the Left’s libertinism, then, not a sort of white supremacism? Is it not a Eurocentric manifestation of cultural neo-imperialism? Etc. etc.
Poking progressives in the eye is fun and all. But I want to highlight one of the blurbs from the Bookshop.org list. It’s for a 2019 novel called Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn. Here it is:
Nicole Dennis-Benn introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine for our times: the eponymous Patsy, who leaves her young daughter behind in Jamaica to follow Cicely, her oldest friend, to New York. Beating with the pulse of a long-withheld confession and peppered with lilting patois, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to love whomever she chooses, bravely putting herself first. But to survive as an undocumented immigrant, Patsy is forced to work as a nanny, while back in Jamaica her daughter, Tru, ironically struggles to understand why she was left behind.
A Jamaican woman abandons her daughter so she can run away to New York and become a lesbian, and—oh, the irony!—the kid doesn’t share her feeling of empowerment.
Look, I obviously haven’t read the book. But if this isn’t a novel celebrating moms who desert their children so they can have sex with other women, and I was Ms. Dennis-Benn, I would be furious. I would’ve sued my publisher for everything they’re worth. That blurb wouldn’t have been posted on any bookseller’s website for more than few hours before I was on the phone with my lawyer.
Dear reader, I’m not going to spell out what’s wrong with this picture. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who immediately apprehend what’s wrong with “Patsy,” and those who don’t. You either love sex more than your kids, or you don’t. Now, it doesn’t have to be gay sex. I know men who’ve abandoned their families for their mistresses; I’ve even met a guy who abandoned his families to pursue his foot fetish.
People like this have always been around, and they always will be. What makes this era of civilization different is that we’re not ashamed of such profoundly selfish people. Even when men and women ran out on their kids, they never expected the literary establishment to cheer them on. They knew what they were doing was wrong. At the very least, they knew everyone else would think that what they were doing was wrong.
Every study ever commissioned shows that children raised by single parents fare worse than children raised by their mothers and fathers. A society that applauds folks who abandon their kids is in the grips of some suicidal passion.
That’s not that it wants to die, but that it’s willing to kill itself in the pursuit of its appetites. Think of Simon Magus from The Silver Chalice, dressed in spandex decorated with spermatozoa, plunging to his death because he thinks he can fly:
Simon is so amped up on hubris that he really thinks he can jump off the tower without plunging to his death. But, as Caesar so helpfully observes, “He didn’t fly.”
This is what I mean when I say that we’re boring ourselves to death. We’re so obsessed with cheap, fleeting pleasures (like casual sex) that we can’t be bothered to embrace those grown-up challenges (like raising a family) that lend us a deeper and more enduring happiness.
As it so happens, those grown-up challenges also form the bedrock of our social stability. The cheap pleasures, meanwhile, erode our social order.
I don’t know if Patsy is a manifesto of libertinism, or if it’s a way for the intelligentsia to reassure themselves—now that they’ve nearly succeeded in destroying Western civilization and have to go down with the ship.
A black child like “Tru” who’s abandoned by one or both of his parents is far more likely to be incarcerated. He’s far more likely to commit or suffer from violent crime. He’s far more likely to be killed in an altercation with the police. And yet how much do you want to bet that the folks who raved about Patsy in 2019 were chanting “Black Lives Matter” in 2020?
Every new progressive movement (like Black Lives Matter) is an attempt to staunch the wound created by an older progressive movement (like the Sexual Revolution). This is the iron law of left-wing politics. The only sensible alternative is to wind back all that pseudo-progress and embrace the status quo ante—that is, to become a reactionary.