Enemies Inside the Gates

(Deal Hudson is editor and publisher of CRISIS, America's fastest growing Catholic magazine. He is also an advisor to President Bush. You can reach Deal at hudson@crisismagazine.com.)

Just how hostile that environment can be was illustrated recently at meeting sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services. Stanley Kurtz, writing for National Review Online, reported that Christina Hoff Sommers, an expert on family policy for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was forced to stop in the middle of her speech by HHS official Linda Bass with the Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention (CSAP).

Evidently Ms. Bass, along with the audience and other speakers, did not appreciate Sommers’ criticism of the HHS “Girl Power” program and her questions as to whether scientific evidence was being used to evaluate the program.

That’s when three things happened to make her leave the stage altogether: Ms. Bass interrupted Sommers, ordering her stop speaking immediately.

The audience started harassing Sommers with hostile questions about her demand for scientific verification of the HHS program.

Another speaker — Professor Jay Wade, of Fordham University's Department of Psychology — told her to, “shut the f___k up!” (He later apologized for his “unprofessional behavior.”)

What made everyone so mad? Sommers is both a respected scholar and a longtime critic of feminism. But the tenets of feminism can no longer be questioned in the academy and, by extension, within earshot of the bureaucratic policy police at departments like Health and Human Services.

The basic principle of radical feminists is that the difference between the sexes (what they call “genders”) is not rooted in the body or nature, but in social conditioning. Thus, any public policy influenced by feminism will assume the possibility of influencing sexual/gender identity through the arrangement of appropriate social stimuli.

The Girl Power program at HHS sought to strip young women of their traditional feminine ways in an attempt to curb their drug use. To be fair, the program for young men called “Boy Talk” sought to eliminate so-called masculine traits as well. Somehow the culturally defined passivity of women and aggressiveness of men is seen as responsible for adolescent drug use.

Supposedly, an entirely new sense of maleness and femaleness will ensure a new era of sobriety and right thinking among America’s teenagers. How these newly re-hatched Adams and Eves turn out, we don’t know, but anyone asking for verification is destined to be banished from paradise.

Sommers tried to make her point not by attacking the ideology but by suggesting that its claims ought to be objectively verified. That is, if teaching girls to play boy’s games makes them less likely to use drugs, then an empirical study should support that claim.

Officialdom at HHS doesn’t want these studies because it would expose the nonsense at the core of these programs.

The sponsor of this meeting was a government department overseen by Bush appointee Tommy Thompson, a pro-life Catholic. No doubt he was unhappy to get this news, but it is indicative of what he and other political appointees must battle day after day in their new jobs.

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