Ed Driscoll

The 1.6 Percent Versus the World

“No one knows the exact figure, but a decent estimate tells us that there are about 900,000 police officers in the United States,” Richard Epstein wrote earlier this month at the Hoover Institute, after the radical left’s latest attempt to wage war against them, in Baltimore.

In a post titled “Police and Transgenderism” on his personal blog, Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard noted what else that number allegedly corresponds to:

The reason [Epstein’s quote] jumped out at me is that in writing about the transgender debacle at Smith College I took a brief detour to look at the estimates activists give us for transgender numbers in the United States. The line they push is 0.3 percent of the population. That may seem small, but keep in mind that gay-rights activists spent a generation insisting that 10 percent of the population is gay, but the real number turns out to be 1.6 percent.

So in order for us to believe that 0.3 percent of America is transgender we’d have to believe that there’s one transgendered American for every five gay Americans. Or, to put it in another context, we’d have to believe that there are as many transgendered Americans as there are police officers.

About a decade ago at NRO, Jonah Goldberg explored the radical contrast between today’s “Progressives” and how their New Deal/postwar equivalents defined the words “reasonable man” when it came to shaping society:

Today that corrosion takes a predictable form: the overthrow of the reasonable man. Now, I’m not talking about liability or torts or any of that stuff, because I don’t know much about it. I’m talking about the larger societal standards that come with the erosion of authority and how they creep into our law and our culture. The reasonable man was a composite, a statistical average of the aggregate human decency necessary to sustain a society. The reasonable man’s behavior was the group average of moral conduct in a very moral country. Today, all of our arguments are about how much the society must bend to the behaviors and attitudes of the man of the fringe, the outlier, the arrow that sails farthest from the bulls-eye. Schools are paralyzed by the question of what to do about the atheist, the homosexual, the handicapped, while the average kids–i.e., most of them–are given short shrift. Abortion has stalemated the political system for a generation because the debate must be over what to do in the extreme circumstances; the famously horrible trinity of abortion legalizers everywhere: rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Roughly 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas in one way or another, but every year we must haggle about what to do for the thin-skinned atheist who withers from the glare of a nativity scene.

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Now none of this should be interpreted as a stirring defense of conformity or a denunciation of anyone who might be a square peg in my ideal society of round holes. What a decent, prosperous, historically Christian Anglo-Saxon liberal society should do to accommodate gays, atheists, Jews, Muslims, foreigners, the handicapped, et al. are entirely appropriate questions to spend time and resources on. After all, there is no American who perfectly incarnates the external standard of the average American. We are all scattered plot points on the cluster graph. Groups are made richer by their diversity.

But, as liberals are wont to do, they are once again smashing their own accomplishments. The story of liberalism, after all, is the story of intellectuals building castles and then destroying them a generation later because they believe something new–and therefore more exciting and “better”–can be made with the rubble. Today’s heirs to the Pragmatists want nothing to do with “reasonable men” and “community norms.” For Holmes the norm and the ideal were roughly synonymous. For today’s liberal they are antipodes. The deviant are the role models, the outliers the heroes. And we never could have replaced the old morality with this new stuff if we hadn’t thought we could do without fatty, flabby morality in the first place.

But hey, how else can the left stay in power, except by constantly moving the goalposts, causing the Stupid Party to constantly refight battles on their terms?