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Culture Friday: China won’t sit by and watch its birthrate decline

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WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: China won’t sit by and watch its birthrate decline

Plus, a concerning calendar marketed to conservative dads, plagiarism catches up with Harvard’s former president, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent veto


Women wearing face masks walk with their children on a street as they head to Forbidden City in Beijing. Associated Press/Photo by Andy Wong

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday the 5th of January, 2024.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

It’s time for Culture Friday, and joining us now is John Stonestreet. He’s president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

Morning, John!

JOHN STONESTREET: Good morning.

REICHARD: Lots to talk about today, and I’ll begin with what’s billed as a “conservative calendar” by “Ultra Light Beer” for “conservative dads,” all those things in quotations.

The calendar has pictures of attractive conservative women. Two photos are of Riley Gaines in a bikini and Dana Loesch in her normal streetwear, who happens to be holding some guns. Now, nobody is shown nude. Some portion of sales goes to the Riley Gaines Center to keep womens’ sports for actual women.

Now, not everyone appreciates this. One is Allie Beth Stuckey, who is a WORLD Opinions writer. She acknowledged on social media that this isn’t the biggest problem on the planet, for sure. But still, some of the women in the calendar are married and posing provocatively, and she thinks this is essentially soft porn marketed to men.

So John, what’s your take on all this?

STONESTREET: My take is where's Nick for this question? Why am I the only guy on this time to answer this? No, it's a completely legitimate question, and it's something that matters to me, to us at the Colson center, personally. Riley Gaines is scheduled to speak at our national conference this May, which I'm happy to say is already sold out, and we're excited about that. And she has been a courageous defender of women in women's sports. I mean, just as recently as what last month, she brought attention to this story at the University of Washington, where apparently the university offered a volleyball scholarship for the women's team to a male, and didn't even know that he was a male. And this was all due to the sort of impact that she's having in the world.

But you know, what are categories of sexual appropriateness, are categories of modesty, have been completely corrupted in the wake of the sexual revolution. This is not only inappropriate, it's wrong. There's no reason for conservative dads to get this calendar to ogle these women. And it's certainly a dehumanizing thing for the women. And the way that this is marketed and the way that this is posed, this is not a Christian thing. It’s not even a conservative thing. And this is one of the great crises that’s facing the conservative movement right now, which is what's worth conserving? What are we trying to conserve? Conservativism is not just kind of this push against progressivism. And unfortunately, that's what it is, in too many circles. It's not thought out in terms of what it is that we're actually trying to protect, what is it that we hold dear, what is it that we value? And that's why, by the way, Christianity is a not only a unique player in the conservative world, but it's a necessary player if conservatism is actually going to have some substance that's worth preserving.

But then I also, you know, want to say too, because somebody like Riley, who's, you know, a young woman, who showed incredible courage over the last several years in a particular area, that that does not automatically qualify her for kind of a well-thought out theologian. And, you know, this is one of the things that happens in Christian celebrity culture is we want to hold somebody up as a beacon for all things. And then on the flip side, if they fall short in some area, we want to turn around and completely cancel. And that's the awkward thing of this particular situation is, you know, she's she's a young woman, and you know, she didn't plan this calendar to the best of my knowledge. Unfortunately, she's taking money from it. And I hope she rethinks it honestly, because it's a bad move.

BROWN: Well, John, on another topic, I want to get your take on what Communist China is calling a crisis, and specifically how the Communist Party is dealing with it.

China is apparently headed toward a demographic collapse. Fewer than 10 million babies were born in 2022, compared to 16 million a decade earlier. Now, it's not hard to guess who's taking the blame, but women in China say don't point the finger at them. First leaders implemented the One Child policy; now they're pushing the birth friendly culture. They were punished at one time for having too many children; now, they're being hounded to have more.

Can you blame these women, John?

STONESTREET: Oh, no, this is gonna get worse before it gets better. I mean, these are policies coming out of a political ideology that thinks that the world can be manipulated, that humans can actually control the progress of evolution, you know, morally, economically, socially, on literally every level, and it shouldn't be a surprise that we have gone from, you know, a one child policy to a two child policy to maybe a three child policy in certain circumstances to now, you know you have Communist officials calling women personally and encouraging to have children.

What we will see tragically in our lifetime and I hate to, I don't I'm not celebrating this, certainly, I'm predicting it and I wish it weren't true, but we will have forced birth. And you know what the irony of this is, of course, we'll continue to have in America, people showing up in The Handmaid's outfits anytime any a sort of pro-life bill is passed anywhere, as if that's a legitimate representation of the story. And where we have in real life around the world examples of The Handmaid's Tale, and that is, of course, the artificial reproductive technology IVF surrogacy industry, particularly propagated by gay and lesbian couples, primarily rich gay couples. But then we'll also have there in China forced births, we will have forced births because it's math. And, you know, that's how they understand humans to be components of a larger economic reality, as opposed to seeing economics as part of the larger human reality. And all this is worldview, whether you think humans are an accident on the planet, or humans are actually made in the image of God and what the whole story, in a sense is all about, you get that backwards, and then suddenly, humans become an economic cog in the machine, a factor to be factored in towards larger economic goals. And that's what's happening here.

So, this math doesn't work. By the way, the demographic math isn't working anywhere around the Western world, all nations which are under replacement rate, including the United States, and especially European nations. So we're gonna have economic incentives and other things that drive similar policies. But that's not how China does it. They just mandate it. They just drive it forward, either loudly or quietly, and so you'll have forced births in China within a decade.

REICHARD: Another story in the news: the president of Harvard, Claudine Gay, resigned on Tuesday following criticism of her anti-semitic comments…. and more pointedly, for numerous allegations of plagiarism by Gay over the years.

The Associated Press published an article on Wednesday blaming conservatives for using plagiarism as a new “weapon.” And yet, Harvard expels students for plagiarism. John, what do you make of this?

STONESTREET: I mean, there comes a moment where you have to just say that is stupid. And that's what I thought when I read the AP headline, that's just stupid. There's not any sort of rationale around that. As Anthony Bradley pointed out the same day on Twitter, there's plenty of examples of white college presidents who were undone by plagiarism. And by the way, plagiarism is wrong for everyone. It's really wrong if you're in academics, it's really wrong if you're a pastor, right? And that's where we have, I think, the highest consequences for plagiarism, and we should. Plagiarism was enough to force the resignation. But standing in front of a congressional hearing justifying calls for the genocide of the Jewish people as not even counting as bullying on campus, that wasn't enough? That tells us a little bit about the critical theory mood that's affected college campuses. 

I think even more than that: this woman had no business being the president in the first place. This woman had no business, in fact, from her academic qualifications and her publishing record, she probably would not have been a candidate, a serious candidate to make the faculty 10-15 years ago. So this is a revelation about just how far the state of American higher education has gotten. And that's something that we're going to have to reckon with sooner or later, across the board where, you know, we know that degrees aren't worth what they used to be, that kids aren't learning what they're supposed to be, their proficiency levels have gone down, their ability to make rational arguments has gone down, the whole mood on college campuses, where the students determine what is and what isn't truth and what is and what isn't real and what is and what isn't fair, and all kinds of other things. 

I mean, if you did not think that the state of American higher education was a disaster before watching just what's happened with the Harvard President over the last since what, October then end of October, you're just not paying attention, folks. I mean, this is the this whole thing is it has been just I think an exposure of what's really behind the scenes, and I hope people pay attention. I hope this is like the Loudoun County School Board moment, you know what that was for K to 12 education. I hope this is that for higher education.

BROWN: Quickly, John before we let you go, a surprising story out of Ohio, the Republican governor, Mike DeWine, vetoed a piece of legislation that would’ve protected children and teens from transgender procedures. And you may recall that back in 2021, Asa Hutchinson, then the governor of Arkansas, vetoed a similar bill.

John, what do you make of this growing trend of Republican governors playing to the left on transgender issues?

STONESTREET: Mike DeWine had one job here, and that was to protect the athletes in his state from from observable risks and from obvious challenges of fairness, and he failed to do that. Look, I don't know that I can even connect it with Asa Hutchinson because at least with Asa Hutchinson, who I think, you know, squandered this and showed no spine and the decision he made back in 2021, there was at least the overwhelming push from the medical and the political community to accommodate the transgender fantasy. 

But you know what, the end of 2023 is not the beginning of 2023. What did we see in 2023? We saw the lid come off with the closing of the Tavistock clinic in the UK. We saw the St. Louis gender clinic, the University of St. Louis gender clinic whistleblower just come, you know, we saw a whole bunch of other people in and around the world, but especially outside of the United States, basically back off on this kind of radical ideology. So I don't even think Mike DeWine has an excuse like Asa Hutchinson had back in 2021, if he's just kind of responding to the political pressure, which is not as great now as it was at the beginning of 2023. 

So, look, I have no access to what's behind this, it made no sense. The veto is going to be overturned by all indications, and hopefully so, by the Ohio legislature. He's not running for re-election. I mean, none of this makes any sense, you know, to me, other than probably some personal connection, that's the best that I can guess about, but that's what it is. It's a guest and nothing more.

REICHARD: Well I think we covered the gambit here! John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks so much, John.

STONESTREET: Thank you both.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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