by Lev Tsitrin
Several months ago, the New York Times ran an interesting story of one “Stephanie Clegg, who paid $90,000 for a painting attributed to Marc Chagall at auction at Sotheby’s in 1994.” The artwork was re-appraised in 2008, when it was thought to be worth about $100,000. To auction it off though, Sotheby’s had “to send the work to France for authentication by a panel of Chagall experts.” And, guess what? “to Ms. Clegg’s dismay, the expert panel in Paris declared her Chagall to be fake, held onto it and now wants to destroy it [without compensating her].”
That’s what I call a zeal for truth!
The same report gives further striking evidence of the value of authenticity: “the “Salvator Mundi,” which reportedly sold at auction in 2005 for $1,175 when it was thought to be by a nobody … soared to sell for $450 million in 2017, after several experts decided it was the work of Leonardo da Vinci.”
Which makes a simple point: we humans are not always rational. We value not the object, but what it represents. The moment the painting stops representing the genius of Chagall or starts representing the genius of Leonardo, our attitude towards it — as measured by its price plunging to zero or skyrocketing into the stratosphere — changes dramatically.
The other lesson is: we value authenticity. We hate fakes.
But — behold the vagaries of human opinion — even our disgust at fakes is not consistent. Yes, we do not like to be served margarine when we ordered butter. Yes, no one wants to pay a price of a diamond for mere cubic zirconia. We do not like to discover that we’ve been secretly cheated — yet when that same cheating is done in the political open, we often — far too often, in fact — go along rather than protest.
The so-called “transgenderism” is the case in point. We know full well that in no biological sense are “trans women” women, nor are “trans men” men: the latter cannot impregnate, nor can the former bear children. And yet, the very same social forces of public opinion that disown fakes when it comes to art, demand, when “transgenderism” is at stake, that we treat as authentic that what we know full well to be fake. Thus, fake women must be addressed by female pronouns, they must be allowed to use ladies’ rooms, and the information in their identifying documents must be adjusted by the authorities — not to mention that they must be allowed to compete with genuine women in sports. And those who express their disgust at this through-and-through, multi-level fakery are being treated as monsters, as bigots, as enemies of civility — if not of the public peace.
But are the “transphobes” bigots? Not really. More likely, they are just consistent in dislike of fakes — irrespective of the political support those fakes enjoy. Not many of us would find a genuine “trans” disgusting, and her company unwelcome. One such is described in the story of Pygmalion, “a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved” which got brought to life by the goddess of love Aphrodite at his supplication and bore him two children. Would we treat Galatea, if we met her, as anything but a genuine woman? No, we wouldn’t — because that’s what she actually was. (To be sure, even gods are not always good at making “trans people”, as per Aesop’s fable of a young man who fell in love with his cat: Aphrodite did him a similar favor too — and “transed” the cat into a beautiful maiden. But then, at their nuptials, the goddess did a test by sending into the bedroom a few mice. Evading the loving embraces of the bridegroom, the “trans” scampered after the mice — and Aphrodite, seeing that the “transing” merely changed the looks but not the nature, put her back into cat’s shape — to the bridegroom’s distress.)
Well. the doctors who undertake to turn men into modern-day Galateas are, needless to say, no gods; and their end-product shows it. “Trans women” are not what they are advertised to be — they are not women; nor are “trans men” men. So what is so bigoted in honestly acknowledging this obvious fact? Why should we collectively bend backwards and lie to ourselves? Why would those who would ferret out a hidden art fake (and even destroy it), deliberately acquiesce to an obvious, live fake?
Perhaps the difference is that artworks are not part of body politic. They are inanimate. They can’t talk, they can’t vote, they can’t participate in political campaigns. Since they can’t talk back, we can afford to be coldly truthful about them — something we cannot do with people who loudly defend their interests and wield political influence. I guess this is the reason why obvious political lies often thrive, and the sane voices denouncing them are drowned in loud condemnations of the self-deluded masses. Political correctness is by its very definition the far cry from the factual correctness; it was invented to diminish — or eliminate entirely — the value of the fact. Far too often, the indifference to blatant untruth combined with the desire “to be on the right side of history” by following whoever leads the crowd, results in collective tragedies on a massive scale — Nazism and Communism in recent memory (the latter practiced even today in China and North Korea), or Islamism in Iran, Afghanistan, and as practiced by terror organizations in the wider region.
Compared to those, “transgenderism” is a marginal phenomenon — and yet, it results from exactly the same trend of being tongue-tied in the presence of the “politically correct” loudmouths and demagogues who are factually wrong but brazenly pushy, those for whom decibels substitute reason, and who for that very reason get no pushback from the decent people, and thus are able to co-opt the indifferent, the ignorant, and the unprincipled careerists (i.e. doctors in the case of “transgenderism”) who know better, but who cynically use the opportunity to feather their nests.
So who are the “transphobes”? Quite simply, they are people who place facts before politics. They are honest people who are being shouted down by the mindless, thoughtless, “politically correct,” self-righteous mob. Does staying true to reality count as “bigotry”? No, not at all — it simply shows the consistent disgust of fakes — not just in art, but in life and politics, too.