Ryan T. Anderson ’04’s statements in a recent PAW forum concern us. Anderson directly advocated for policies of the Trump administration. PAW could surely draw on more credible conservative voices.
Mr. Anderson employs a far-right vocabulary in the guise of moderation. Concepts like “elite,” “nature,” “globalism,” “core values,” and “forgotten Americans” are hardly neutral. Mr. Anderson has repeatedly demonized LGTBQ+ and nonreligious American citizens using debunked social science and historical research. His assertion that “people are created male and female, to unite in marriage and raise children together in a family” constitutes a dog whistle against such groups.
We find Mr. Anderson’s denunciation of “the alt-right, QAnon, racism, antisemitism, or xenophobia” ironic given his championing of homophobic and transphobic policies. He edited a journal in which one contributor championed criminalization of “sodomitical relationships.” Mr. Anderson played a leading role in a 2017 vice-presidential working-group report that provided justification for the Trump administration’s ban of transgender Americans from military service.
The “free exchange of ideas” defines American society. Yet instrumental uses for dialogue exist: the appearance of tolerance, presumed parity between views, and the heightened profile of participants. Criticism may trigger calculated claims of censorship; Anderson decried “cancel culture” upon critical reviews of his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (2018).
The state of the country leaves Americans in need of responsible conservative interlocutors. We salute PAW’s willingness to seek them out; unfortunately, Mr. Anderson does not qualify.