September 12, 2023 - 9:00 pm
Almost a hundred years ago the great American author Sinclair Lewis wrote a political novel called “It Can’t Happen Here.” The 1935 book was a warning that what was happening then in Europe — the rise of fascism and Nazism — could come to America in the form of a Hitler-type politician who gets elected and then becomes a dictator.
Though the power of the federal government has grown enormously since FDR’s days, we never became a totalitarian country like the fictional one Lewis imagined.
But out here in California, where parents, public schools and the state government are fighting over who has the ultimate control of children, we’re starting to resemble a country from the old, evil Soviet empire.
In the latest court case, a judge ruled that the Chino Valley Unified School District has to delay the enforcement of its new policy that requires its schools to notify parents if their child indicates that they identify as transgender or gender-nonconforming.
The case, which is on its way to higher levels of the state court system, has been described in the Los Angeles Times as a fight “pitting parental rights and student privacy rights.”
The school district’s lawyers argue — sensibly — that the parents of a student who identifies as transgender should be involved in any discussion of gender-related issues. The lawyers in the state’s attorney general’s office, however, argue against immediate parental involvement. They say vulnerable kids who are questioning their gender identity need time to get emotionally ready before they talk to their parents, and that schoolteachers can help the process.
The Chino case is the latest example of the state trying to take control of children from parents.
In June a bill passed in the lower chamber of the California legislature compels parents to provide their kids with “gender-affirming” care. It also would require judges in divorce cases to side with the parent who most affirms the child’s preferred identity.
And earlier this year, a bill was proposed that would amend an old state law to let kids as young as 12 leave home and consent to live in a group home without their parents’ involvement or knowledge.
The bill, AB65, which its opponents correctly call “state-sanctioned kidnapping,” is stuck somewhere in the sausage-making process and is touted as a way to help kids with mental health issues, particularly gender-related ones.
What the state government here is trying to do to parents of school kids reminds me of what happened to my friends Karl and Sandy in 1984 after they escaped from what was then called the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
They escaped with their 1-year-old child, lived in Austria for a year and came to Los Angeles without knowing how to speak English or having any money. Sandy stayed home with their child. Karl got a job in the kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel and began working his way up to eventually becoming a successful contractor specializing in kitchens.
Meanwhile, the communist government in Czechoslovakia put Karl and Sandy on trial for stealing state property — their child. The government’s thug’s beat-up Karl’s father but he wouldn’t tell where his son and grandson were.
Karl and Sandy were found guilty of stealing government property and given sentences of 25 and 20 years, respectively, which they would have had to serve if they ever went back to their communist homeland.
This is what scares me. The government of California — like other state governments — is undermining the control of parents and essentially saying their children belong to the state and it, not the parents, knows what’s best for them. That’s how the communist governments in the USSR and elsewhere operated. Are we headed down that totalitarian road, where the government starts arresting parents who disagree with its indoctrination or wrongful edicts?
Sinclair Lewis showed in his fiction how dictatorial things could happen here, and I think they already really are.