Our childless, childish culture

The year after I graduated from college and was teaching at a high school in Glasgow, Scotland, I was given a copy of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. Now, as I flick through the satirically titled chapter headings — “Never Leave Children to Themselves,” “Replace the Fairy Tale with Political Clichés,” “Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic,” “Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and Sex,” “Level Distinctions between Man and Woman,” “Deny the Transcendent” — I think it reads like an instruction manual for the progressive, state-sponsored curriculum I was expected to implement. (A curriculum that, incidentally, is making the country illiterate.) I now wonder whether the people who invented this curriculum actually had children.

The same thought occurs to me vis-à-vis this increasingly out-of-hand gender-identity fad. Who knows what’s best for kids: parents or childless activists? This ought not to be a difficult question. Recently at a library in England, for instance, an adult-male drag queen was videoed teaching small children how to “twerk” — which is a sexually provocative, hip-thrusting dance made famous by Miley Cyrus in a fit of derangement. A generous interpretation of this episode is that the adult performer in question did not realize how inappropriate he was being because he does not know or understand children. But this is naïve. Last week, after Mario Lopez, the incoming Access Hollywood co-host and father of three, told the conservative activist Candace Owens that the idea that a three-year-old could chose his gender was “sort of alarming” and urged parents to “be the adult in the situation,” he was attacked as a bigot and actually apologized.

Our childless culture is — paradoxically — a childish one.