Baptist leader calls out David French for dismissing ‘cultural crisis’ of Drag Queen story time
August 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Earlier this summer, the rise of Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) events at public libraries kicked off an intramural debate about the Right’s response to the Left’s ever-expanding takeover of our culture. While that debate seemed to have died down, it just came back in a big way thanks to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler.
As part of his Wednesday briefing, Mohler returned to the debate between New York Post op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari and National Review contributor David French over whether the classical-liberal underpinnings of mainstream conservatism were capable of defending the country’s values.
Mohler wrote that Ahmari “accused many he identified as basically establishment conservatives ... as being far too tepid and failing to understand the moral emergency, the cultural emergency that we actually face,” and quotes French as scoffing at the problem. “I'm having a hard time believing we're having a conversation around some sort of library event that like 20 people might go to ... That's the threat right there. That's going to destroy the liberal order. I just don't get it.”
But Mohler corrected French by quoting the work of First Things assistant editor Ramona Tausz, noting that DQSH is a “global phenomenon with chapters around the world in the United States ... its 35 chapters hold events regularly at public libraries in 13 states and Washington, D.C.,” with events drawing crowds in the hundreds and an express agenda of promoting “gender fluidity” and “unabashedly queer role models” to children. Regular LifeSite readers are well aware of just how twisted and dangerous DQSH can be.
The catastrophe is the massive restructuring of the entire moral universe of modern America that makes drag queen story time plausible, and then actual and then celebrated. If you think it's no big deal that there is now drag queen story time in the public libraries for young children not only in the coastal liberal communities but also in red state cities as well, if you think it's no big deal that sexual perversion is now being celebrated for young children dressed up in a direct rejection of the so called gender binary, if that doesn't represent a cultural crisis to you, then I simply have to press the question even harder. Answer it honestly. What then would it take for you to recognize a cultural crisis?
French’s wife, Nancy, was first to respond:
Counter question: “If you think it's no big deal that sexual perversion is now being celebrated by evangelicals desperate to keep political power... What then would it take for you to recognize a cultural crisis?”— Nancy French (@NancyAFrench) August 21, 2019
Grabbing women by the genitals for one. Paying off porn stars for another.— Nancy French (@NancyAFrench) August 21, 2019
This is a common refrain for the Frenches, albeit even more nonsensical here than usual. For one thing, Mrs. French didn’t answer any of the numerous replies asking for examples of any evangelicals “celebrating” Trump’s past.
More important, Mohler’s piece doesn’t say a word about the president, and Mohler himself is no apologist – he claimed supporting Trump would “destroy” evangelicals’ “moral credibility” as late as October 2016, and since then has been precisely the sort of objective observer NeverTrumpers usually claim to want, praising Trump’s good actions while criticizing policies he opposed.
David replied soon after, with a series of tweets that were characteristically evasive and obtuse:
And if we go back to genesis of all this nonsense, note that my critics mocked and derided both my civil libertarianism and my desire for religious revival.— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 21, 2019
Much of the point of anti-Frenchism was to argue for greater use of political means to achieve cultural ends. How?
The original context for the dispute arose out of a rejection of my approach, which is to preserve civil liberties for all while also seeking a religious revival.— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 22, 2019
They were also in the context of making the case that drag queen reading hour was evidence for the failure of liberalism itself, with one of the answers being a turn by the government towards illiberalism.— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 22, 2019
Note how French ignores what’s actually being critiqued, his ignorant assertion that DQSHs are too small to be a serious threat, and reframes himself as merely arguing that there’s no constitutionally-permissible remedy – which, even if that really was all he argued, is still preposterous.
That the First Amendment guarantees drag queens’ right to free speech and assembly doesn’t mean they have a right to be given space at public libraries – institutions supported by taxpayers for the purpose of education – to promote content that’s manifestly harmful to children.
There is no constitutional reason Congress can’t make the hundreds of millions of dollars doled out to libraries every year contingent on not hosting sexually-inappropriate events targeted at minors, no reason localities can’t forbid the same at libraries under their jurisdiction, no reason conservatives in our private capacity shouldn’t do more to exert public pressure against them.
Contrary to both French and Ahmari (who erroneously attributed the Right’s failure here to a belief that “protecting individual liberty” is “the main, if not sole, purpose of government”), we can save the culture without rejecting or redefining one word of the Constitution, without abandoning any of the principles that are supposed to unite us. Drag Queen Story Hour is ascendant not because conservatives’ hands are tied, but because too many conservatives lack either the courage or the interest to act.
That, more than so than the indoctrination itself, is the greatest cultural crisis of all.