Are We Willing to Accept Objective DNA Evidence as Reality?
In response to taunting by President Trump, Senator Elizabeth Warren reached for what might reasonably be considered objective proof for her claim of Native American ancestry: a DNA test. Warren is either a descendant of Native Americans, or she is not. The answer is written in her genetic material, and science allows us to discover it.
As it turned out, Senator Warren’s DNA test did confirm her distant Native American ancestry. And while partisans may bicker over whether such a tiny trace of heritage is worth mentioning, no one appears to dispute the conclusiveness of DNA evidence to resolve the question.
Objective Versus Self-Imposed Gender Identity
Of course, DNA has long been used to reveal data about one’s identity. We use it in paternity testing. We use it to identify criminals and to diagnose genetic diseases. So it’s not surprising that we would use it to determine one’s ethnic background.
And yet, a popular cultural trend would have us ignore or reject this heretofore unassailable source of objective data when it comes to sex and gender. They would have us understand sex (a word they rarely use) and gender not as facts that transcend human will and emotion, but rather as fluid aspects of an identity one can embrace or reject.
In the absence of some limiting principle, we should expect unfettered growth in the category of facts that we are asked to pretend are merely conventions. According to the new worldview, it is only by throwing off the hindrance of our reason and knowledge that we can enjoy absolute freedom to be whoever or whatever we want to be. This power to define one’s self is the essential goal.
‘I Feel Like’
A couple of years ago, the Family Policy Institute of Washington sent Joseph Backholm, a white male, onto a college campus to observe students’ responses to certain claims he made about his own identity. The video footage is jaw-dropping.
Asked how they would respond if Backholm told them he was actually a woman, there was a fairly consistent, “Fine. Nice to meet you!” Similarly, students didn’t seem disturbed by the idea of Backholm calling himself Chinese. One young lady responded, “Good for you! Be who you are!”
There was a detectable shift in their responses — both verbal and non-verbal — as Backholm’s claims became increasingly easy to disprove with objective data. Students were obviously more uncomfortable agreeing that Backholm could be 7 years old. And yet, we painfully witness their efforts to deny blatant realities in order to support Backholm in identifying himself however he likes. “If you feel 7 at heart, then so be it. Good for you!”
Some students appeared to hit the breaking point when five-foot, nine-inch Backholm declared that he was six feet, five inches tall. But the indoctrination of others into the truthless worldview has been so complete that they were willing to accept even that. “If you truly believe it, I think that’s fine. I wouldn’t tell you you’re wrong. It’s not my place.”
What is to become of a society whose people lack the fortitude to tell each other they are wrong about a mathematical measurement — let alone about issues of morality? And what of “speaking truth to power?”
Common among many of the college students’ responses was the phrase, “I feel like:” “I feel like that should be an o.k. thing;” “I feel like that’s not my place to say another human is wrong.”
Truth is Inescapable
But notice that what is being described is not a feeling at all. The idea that one person shouldn’t say another person is wrong is not an emotion. It is a belief. A conviction.
By couching statements like these in terms of our “feelings,” we subtly shield them from analysis or evaluation. We can argue about whether it is right to challenge an unsubstantiated ancestry claim. But arguing about one’s feelings serves little purpose.
Conservatives must reject these efforts to shroud the world of facts beneath feelings. Any girl can say that she “feels like” a boy. But male-ness is not a feeling. It is a fact that can be proven or disproven, just like ancestry, paternity or ethnicity, by DNA. And truth does not conform itself to human feelings or fantasies.
It is an audacious hypocrisy for “progressives” to run to DNA for proof of facts that suit them (ethnicity) while denying its relevance when its proofs are at odds with their own feelings or desires (sex/gender). But it is also an implicit acknowledgement that, try as we might, we cannot escape from objective reality; we will never succeed in escaping Truth.