By Jonathon Van Maren
Sometimes stories can be simultaneously encouraging and depressing, and the story of a student politician at Berkeley, Isabella Chow, is one such story. An articulate, and compassionate young woman with a skill for speaking the truth in love, she has nevertheless become the latest target of the LGBT activists who claim that the slightest deviation from their fluid worldview constitutes hatred and bigotry. From the Family Research Council (which, I’m pleased to note, has been regularly disseminating columns from this blog):
The University of California at Berkeley isn’t exactly a destination for students who care about the free exchange of ideas. That’s what makes the story of Isabella Chow even more astounding. After a clash in the student senate over gender policy, the student senator is a profile of true courage at a school that could use more of it.
When Chow won her seat in leadership, she was very clear that she would “represent the Christian community.” But now that she’s actually tried, the campus is demanding her resignation. The flare-up started on Halloween, when the student government met to consider a resolution condemning the Trump administration for its mainstream (and biologically-based!) views on gender. Chow, who was elected as part of the U.C. party of Student Action, abstained from the vote. And for it, she could lose her seat.
Take note here of the fact that she didn’t even vote against the motion—she simply abstained from voting entirely. This alone was enough to make her a target of the LGBT activists, who apparently do not understand that enforced unanimity is not typically a feature of the democratic process, and that to demand this is creepy in a Soviet sort of way. Chow, who is surely no stranger to the fact that her campus is firmly entrenched in the intolerant side of the progressive spectrum, was genuinely shocked by the force of the reaction:
“I didn’t expect the backlash and misunderstanding to be so swift,” Chow told Campus Reform. “At the end of the day, it’s a belief in objective truth.” In the month since the vote, liberal students have protested across campus, posting hand-painted signs across the buildings that say, “Senator Chow Resign Now!” It’s been a difficult few weeks, to be sure, but Chow hasn’t wavered. “There’s a Christian community on campus that has been praying for me and encouraging me throughout all of this. And if I don’t represent their views, who else will?”
Before the vote, Isabella took a few minutes to explain her position. It was a powerful defense of faith, truth, and the free speech. “My God is one who assigns an immeasurable value to and desires to love each and every human being,” she started. “In God’s eyes and therefore my own, every one of you here today — and in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole — is significant, valid, wanted, and loved, even if and when our views differ.”
“I cannot,” she went on, “vote for this bill without compromising my values and my responsibility to the community that elected me to represent them. As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right and true. I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman. For me, to love another person does not mean that I silently concur when, at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual.”
After the vote, her party ousted her. The student author of the resolution openly attacked her, calling Chow’s stand “a harrowing reminder of the bigotry that persists in contemporary society.” And then, as if that weren’t enough, the student newspaper refused to print the op-ed she wrote in defense of her position, arguing that it didn’t “meet the newspaper’s editorial standards.”
Through it all, Chow hopes her stand will encourage others to stand up for truth. “As tumultuous as the past couple weeks have been for me, my deepest prayer is that the church in Berkeley and beyond would increase dialogue regarding the intersection of faith and the LGBTQ+ community,” she told the Daily Wire.
Can you imagine this sort of thing happening only a handful of years ago? I graduated from the history department of an extremely liberal campus in 2010, and back then the ideology of gender fluidity was certainly still up for debate (although I remember the trans activists beginning their protests in the courtyard between the library and the pub.) I also wrote op-eds for the campus newspaper regularly, despite the fact that I was generally voicing my opposition to abortion or weighing in on some other inflammatory topic. When displays set up by my pro-life club were attacked or torn down, I was always given the opportunity to explain myself in the newspaper—and the editor of the Opinion section was a pro-choice atheist.
So to think that Isabella Chow, who simply holds to the same beliefs that nearly everyone did only a decade ago—and that the inhabitants of Western civilization have considered obvious for thousands of years—is now considered so persona non grata by the pathetic progressive censors on a university campus that she is not even permitted to explain herself in the newspaper is rather chilling. When you cannot even have a loving disagreement with people without being smeared, silenced, and targeted by the irony-loving enforcers of tolerance and all dialogue dries up, society’s divisions have become too deep and too wide for social cohesion to last much longer.
On the other hand, Isabella Chow’s courageous stand is encouraging. I wish there were more people like her.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.