Ryan T. Anderson ’04’s appearance in a recent PAW forum concerns us (“What’s Next? The Republicans,” April issue). 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 non-religious 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, anti-Semitism, or xenophobia” ironic given his championing of homophobic and transphobic policies. He edited a journal that 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.