A Virginia Tech Ritual Makes Me Wonder: Is America LOSING it??

When I was a teenager, some of the neighbors’ mail was dropped mistakenly in our box, and — without going into detail — flipping through one of their magazines told me something about them: they were part of a sociological cult — or at least they were being wooed by one.  The advice, and the illustrations, and pseudo-psychiatric lingo were so nutty, so insulting, that I couldn’t help wondering: how do people forsake mainstream dogmas, (the traditions that have built culture across the centuries) for the kind of therapy quack-speak that silences an entire room when it’s discussed.  Bottom line, I guess I was both embarrassed and frightened for my neighbors.

A few years later I watched an in-law repeating the mantras of a self-help guru, as he was making a new recruit for a $900 afternoon group session. “He’s stepping aboard,” my in-law spoke into a conference call. “He’s taking responsibility for his journey.”  If I recall correctly the phrase “responsibility for your journey” had been thrown about the house a dozen times that afternoon.  I was beginning to think my in-law thought the phrase had magic powers.  At any rate, this particular self-help journey was both expensive and ineffective.  The in-law in question was last seen chasing a burning Darth Vader costume across the back yard, convinced he was exorcising a demon.

It’s one thing to watch, with pity, a troubled soul lunging at one false hope after the next, but it’s far more disturbing to find yourself in a veritable crowd of crazies, witnessing once wholesome kids and institutions collectively losing it.  Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women For America recently attended her son’s college orientation at Virginia Tech. According to Nance, speaker after speaker came to the podium announcing their preferred pronouns.  All of the new freshmen (is that term allowed?) were then asked to share their preferred pronouns with their small group.

As awkward rituals go, this beats holding hands around a pink Cadillac and singing the Mary Kay Cosmetics song. In addition to being asked, tacitly, to celebrate every point on the gender-fluid compass, young male and female adults are essentially being asked to announce how they roll.  It’s not much different from..

  • “Hi, I’m Roger. I have a penis, and I prefer to use it in the the conventional way — boy meets girl.”  Or..
  • “Hello, I am Denise.  I have breasts and a vagina, and I am attracted to men who have a penis and use it in the, uh, historic way.”

And as awkward as this sub-text is, it manages to be considerably less awkward than the other pronoun configurations that might be announced at such a gathering. The confession of exotic orientations and identities — let’s be honest — doesn’t make them appear any more normal, just more awkwardly public. Adapting odd pronouns doesn’t make the bearded lady any less bearded. What is the young transgender man hoping to achieve, sitting there in his sun dress, just because he has found new pronouns?  Is he/she insisting young biological males find him as attractive as — excuse me — an actual young lady?  What sort of insanity are we witnessing here?

Let me return, for a moment, to a bygone era where this odd ritual wasn’t necessary: say, five years ago.  Young people wore the clothing and sported the hairstyles of males or females.  They didn’t need to announce their gender. It was obvious.  They smiled and flirted with each other, and sometimes they studied.

On many fronts, Americans are longing for a normalcy that doesn’t just appear to be in decline; in some areas (college campuses and urban areas), it appears to have vanished entirely.  Most of my (evidently sheltered) friends, upon seeing the Virginia Tech orientation, would conclude they had wandered into a sociological cult.

And on many fronts — woke sensibilities, economy killing socialism, pseudo climate change, safe spaces, Islamo-pandering — some of us feel something like Rip van Winkle, except that we’re witnessing more than just the passage of time. We’re watching the departure of sanity.