One of the most alarming developments in American life is the explosion in the number of children questioning their gender identity, a phenomenon that City Journal has covered extensively. As Kay S. Hymowitz writes in “The Transgender Children’s Crusade,” the trend has been celebrated and enabled by elite media, celebrities, activists, educators, progressive politicians, and even the medical establishment. Yet those advancing the gender revolution are casting aside all we know about childhood and human nature and undermining legal and cultural traditions foundational to the social order. Hymowitz’s essay is a stark wake-up call.
Gender and race have become academic obsessions, even in law schools, says John O. McGinnis in “Law, Betrayed.” Today’s woke law school classroom is increasingly close-minded, rejecting anything not ideologically committed to the Left—as conservative federal judge Kyle Duncan discovered when angry Stanford law students kept him from speaking at a Federalist Society event. Freedom of speech and inquiry is essential to making our legal system function for society’s benefit, McGinnis explains; a law school environment that replaces such ideals with indoctrination poses a threat to democracy.
Judge Glock’s “Welcome to the World of Minority Contracting” uncovers the vast empire of government-directed goals and set-asides for “disadvantaged” businesses in America—a form of racial preferences even more pervasive than affirmative action, reaching every level of government. These special deals and programs, Glock shows, have bred massive corruption, cost taxpayers billions, worsened race relations, and rewarded well-connected insiders—while doing nothing to help the truly disadvantaged.
Another economic inefficiency is growing, thanks to the Supreme Court, writes Steven Malanga in “The Tax Nexus Cometh.” The Court’s 2018 Wayfair ruling expanded states’ “tax nexus”—the criterion that a government uses to decide whether a company or an individual is subject to its levies—to the online economy. Firms with any kind of commercial web activity find themselves confronting an array of potential new charges, even in places where they have no physical presence, requiring them to lawyer up and spend massively on compliance costs. Unless Congress acts to clarify and limit the law, the online economy will suffer.
Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, Portland, Oregon, endured months of nightly riot and disruption, as anarchists attacked the famously progressive city; homelessness intensified as fentanyl and meth spread through the streets, while lenient policies abetted the disorder; and violent crime exploded. Thankfully, reports Michael J. Totten in “Portland Sobers Up,” fed-up residents have pushed city officials to take steps to turn things around.
In “Transit and the American City,” Nicole Gelinas assesses the damage that the pandemic caused to public transportation—especially in New York and other dense metros, where remote workers have been slow to return to offices, putting financial pressure on transit systems. For cities to bounce back from Covid-19, they’ll need busier subways, commuter rail, and buses. Gelinas has smart suggestions for how to make that happen.
There’s lots more cutting-edge reporting and commentary in this issue, including on technology: Robert Henderson warns about the leftist bias encoded in artificial intelligence, N. S. Lyons reflects on life under constant technological mutation, and Andrey Mir anatomizes the social effects of algorithmic media. And Bruno Maçães offers an evocative short story about Europe’s lack of political form at a time of war. Readers will also notice an evolution of our look, courtesy of the award-winning design firm And—Now. We hope you like it, along with our revamped website.
—Brian C. Anderson