We have just completed Transgender Awareness Week. Let me be the first to say that had it not been for the energetic ideologues at Google, who shoved this unwanted information into my frowning face every time I used the omnipotent search engine, I would not have known about it.
Because I could not stop for the death of Judeo-Christian Biblical faith, morals, and civilization, it kindly stopped for me. Thank you, Google!
Americans are usually incurious about international affairs, even those that have an impact on our security. Conversely, educated foreigners—both those who wish us well and those who wish us ill—are alert and well-informed about economic, political, and cultural matters in the United States.
And in this, the weeks, or days, or months, or centuries of transgender awareness become relevant.
During the first months of 2016, I traveled from my home in the United States to attend a business conference in Dubai. In addition to the conference, I took part in meetings and social gatherings with international business people. Most were either from the Middle East or the West.
At one such gathering, I faced an unexpected challenge from a sophisticated Anglo-Irish businessman, then based in Dubai, whom I had known for most of the previous decade when both he and I had lived and worked in Saudi Arabia.
“Joe,” he began. “I’m a liberal, and I’m very concerned about what’s going on in your country.”
“Oh, is it Trump?” I asked.
Trump had just begun winning upset primary victories against establishment Republicans. At that moment, neither a Trump supporter nor a NeverTrumper, I still had not come to grips with the Trump phenomenon. I will admit to having begun 2016 expecting to stay out of the primaries and wait to give my all to electing the inevitable nominee Jeb Bush against Hillary Clinton in November. After all, Jeb was solid (or so I thought) on issues of importance to me—abortion and school choice, for example—while Trump’s positions on those were unknown. And Jeb was “the good Bush, the smart Bush” who would not repeat the idiocies of his brother.
“No, it’s not about Trump,” my friend said. “It’s about this business of men wanting to use women’s public restrooms in North Carolina.”
Yes, he said, really. “I’m a liberal. I’m not religious. I don’t have any issues with whether or not people are gay or what they do in their private lives. But living in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, I know what the people here read and hear and think. We’re inundated with news here about political controversies in your country. Now the big story is about whether men who say they have changed into women can use women’s public restrooms in your country.
“This is making your country a laughingstock,” he said. “It’s not just expats like me. All of the Arabs know about this, and they are laughing. It’s not happy laughter, it’s nervous laughter. They are very concerned about their security.”
“I’m not an American,” my friend continued. “But when the United States is a laughingstock, it’s dangerous for my security. It’s dangerous for the UK and Europe. It’s dangerous for the Middle East. And the only beneficiary is China.”
Yes, China. Everyone in the Middle East is aware of the Chinese Communist challenge for primacy in economic and political influence in that region. A decade ago, China overtook the United States as the biggest customer of Saudi oil. This was huge news in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf region, one of the most consequential turning points in the modern history of that region. I doubt this event drew much attention in the United States.
Here in the United States we rightly celebrate our having become a net exporter of oil, after having been a large net importer of oil from the Middle East and other foreign sources. By itself, this is very good for our balance of payments and our energy security.
As indisputably good as our “energy independence” is in itself, in the zero-sum game of international power politics, an important secondary effect is that China has gained a relatively larger measure of economic, and therefore political, influence among the Arab Gulf oil producers.
That makes it all the more incumbent upon the United States to do everything consistent with our other interests and values to earn and retain the respect of the Gulf Arabs.
The Gulf Arab nations are not the only countries that promote national and international policies on the conservative, pro-family, pro-life side of the global social-issues divide. Last month, the United States, represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration.
Thirty-one other nations joined the United States in signing the declaration, including Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda.
The document’s words are powerful. It asserts that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning and that any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level, according to the national legislative process.” It reaffirms “that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state, that motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance, that women play a critical role in the family and women’s contribution to the welfare of the family and to the development of society.”
The declaration, said Pompeo, is “the first time that a multilateral coalition has been built around the issue of defending life.” He added: “We’re doing more than just signing on, agreeing on the importance of these issues. We are making a commitment to work together at the United Nations and in other international settings to achieve tangible results.”
“Today we put down a clear marker,” Azar said at the signing ceremony. “No longer can U.N. agencies reinterpret and misinterpret agreed-upon language without accountability. Member-states set the policy for the U.N. to pursue, not the other way around. Without apology, we affirm that governments have the sovereign right to make their own laws to protect innocent life and write their regulations on abortion.”
A Biden-Harris Administration will renounce the United States’ adherence to the declaration. It will remain for conservatives in Congress, in non-governmental organizations, and in other international networks, to fight for the rights of the families, women, and unborn children with whom the declaration is concerned. These same U.S. leaders will need to fight also for the rights of the other national signatories to have their sovereign national policies respected by the United Nations and other international bodies.
Transgender Awareness Week, and the enthusiasm bordering on fanaticism that it elicits in the milieus of the Biden-Harris organization, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, and woke capitalism at large, is precisely the opposite of what earns us respect among our allies or would-be allies in the Arab and Muslim worlds and in other God-fearing, traditional societies.
The Geneva Consensus Declaration must be embraced, defended and fought for by American conservatives. Our true national security depends on such fundamental moral realism.