From Anthony Kennedy to Rachel Dolezal

Culture
by Marvin Olasky

Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, at 5:17 pm

Screaming at Rachel Dolezal. Cheering for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. A contradiction too far?

We’re on to the third-day Dolezal story. First came the news of her apparent lying. Second came the analysis. Now comes her counterattack on NBC: “I definitely am not white. Nothing about being white describes who I am. … I’m more black than I am white. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.”

“My truth.” And why not? Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that liberty is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Dolezal’s psychological trans-racing from white to black is a constitutional right, according to Kennedy’s logic.

If we choose to be logical, Dolezal has a stronger case than Jenner. Sex is much more physically defined than race. Many have pointed out the illogic of the anti-Dolezal but pro-Jenner position, and more will. The Federalist has three good articles on the topic: “If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?” by Sean Davis, “Try Switching Rachel Dolezal And Bruce Jenner In This Article” by D.C. McAllister, and “Left Resorts To ‘Gaslighting’ Tactics In Transgender Debate” by Daniel Payne.

Nevertheless, the Kennedy Doctrine also gives us a constitutional right to be illogical, and to avoid the obvious question: If a person can’t change her race, how can he/she change his/her sex?

The Dolezal and Jenner changes could be seen as part of an American tradition that F. Scott Fitzgerald described brilliantly almost a century ago in The Great Gatsby: Transform yourself. Fitzgerald, though, saw that makeover attempt as tragic. Today we’d give Gatsby a hero award.

What a brave new world we live in! We used to see sex and race as immutable; religion, nationality, marital status, and locality as usually immutable (since we didn’t move around so much residentially or maritally); and preferences in food and sexual partners as mutable (when homosexuality was seen as largely volitional).

Now, we’ve switched most of those. Critics of Anthony Kennedy call him “Flipper,” since he changed from pro-life to pro-abortion, but his doctrine makes the world safe for the whole world to sing, “I’m a flipper, you’re a flipper, wouldn’t you like to be a flipper too?”

I’m cisgender, cisrace, cissexpref, transreligion, transfood, transresidential. What are you? 

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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