The power of spite
The force that explains almost everything about American politics in 2022.
A dispatch from Halifax Stanfield International Airport, four hours after my flight to Montreal was supposed to depart.
I shoulda drove. I may still have to.
As I wrote the other day, I have absolutely no problem with drag queens reading to school children. It’s mostly harmless fun, and if it makes the kids a little more open minded about people who once would have been forced into the closet or worse, that’s great.
That said, I assumed the drag queens were doing this for no more than a school sweatshirt and maybe a Subway gift card or something. In New York City, at least, it’s kind of a lucrative growth industry:
New York is showering taxpayer funds on a group that sends drag queens into city schools — often without parental knowledge or consent — even as parents in other states protest increasingly aggressive efforts to expose kids to gender-bending performers.
Last month alone, Drag Story Hour NYC — a nonprofit whose outrageously cross-dressed performers interact with kids as young as 3 — earned $46,000 from city contracts for appearances at public schools, street festivals, and libraries, city records show.
Since January, the group has organized 49 drag programs in 34 public elementary, middle, and high schools, it boasted on its website, with appearances in all five boroughs.
Since 2018, the group — previously known as Drag Queen Story Hour NYC, before changing its name early this year — has received a total of $207,000 in taxpayer cash.
The tally includes $50,000 from New York State through its Council on the Arts, along with $157,000 from the city’s Departments of Education, Cultural Affairs, Youth and Community Development, and even the Department of Transportation, city data shows.
Michigan’s Attorney General was presumably speaking in jest when she said there should be a drag queen in every school, but that won’t stop it from appearing in many GOP attack ads this fall. (Fortunately, the Michigan Republican Party is itself distracted by internal divisions and infighting, as is the way of most radical fringe groups.)
I don’t know how Charles Cooke feels about Drag Queen story time (of all the National Review regulars, I feel like he’s the one who’d most likely be cool with it, especially if they’re armed) but he asks, not unreasonably, why this is a hill so many liberals and progressives are willing to die on:
Seriously: How? How did we reach the point at which drag queens in schools became a topic that is routinely debated in domestic American politics? How did drag queens get into schools in the first place? Why does anyone think it’s acceptable — let alone crucial — to keep them there? Why has one of the two major political parties in America decided that this a hill to die on? How did this happen? In the last six months, I have heard more about drag queens in schools than I have heard about the solvency of Medicare. Why?
“A drag queen for every school” is a sentence that, until today, has probably never been uttered before in the English language. Why is an elected official saying it in public? As for “drag queens make everything better,” one can just aboutimagine circumstances in which a person might say such a thing aloud. But the attorney general of Michigan?
I think this started out as a well-intentioned idea to introduce little ones to their LGBTQ+ neighbours, and have some fun with it. As time went on though, I feel like it’s become a kind of “Let’s Go Brandon” act for the left.
That is, it’s all about owning the cons. Just like 99% of what conservatives do these days is meant to achieve nothing more than owning the libs.
A wise person once wrote that patriotism is about love of your own country while nationalism is the defined by hatred of the neighbouring country. That certainly explains why building a wall on the Mexican border was a major part of Trump’s nationalist agenda - and, for that matter, why Canadian nationalism has historically been defined by distrust (if not outright hatred) of the superpower immediately to our south, making Canada a rare developed country where nationalism is mostly a left-leaning phenomenon.
The same applies along rival groups within a country, too. In 2022 America, your tribe is defined by hatred of the other tribe, more than pride in your own.
If Republicans had just rolled their eyes and written off drag queen story hour as one of those weirdo big city things, I really don’t think you’d have New York City schools spending thousands of dollars per year on it. Instead, they determined that this was going to usher in the downfall of civilization, and now there’s a backlash to the backlash. “These red-state hicks find this offensive?” I can hear them saying. “We’ll, let’s see how they handle this!”
That’s negative polarization for you. Some people feel like they have to carry a bunch of guns on their waist when they go to Subway1 and others want drag performances as part of the K-12 curriculum.
I’ll not saying these examples are morally equivalent, just that their proponents know that these radical left-wing socialists/radical right-wing fascists don’t like it, which makes them want it even more.
Of course, there eventually comes a point where shock value isn’t shocking anymore, and the great majority of people on the mushy middle just tune all of this nonsense out. Part of the reason Joe Biden was elected President is because most Americans just wanted the madness to stop.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped. In a two-party system without smaller but still viable political parties to act as a kind of safety valve, I’m not sure it can ever be stopped.
Or maybe they’re worried that Jared might show up, in which case you can never be too prepared.