In her essential book Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, scholar Mary Eberstadt observes that at the root of our chaotic age, the desire for belonging—the need for an answer to the question who am I? dominates everything. A few generations ago, this was a relatively simple question to answer. The vast majority of us came from families, churches, and communities. We were part of tribes—parents, uncles and aunts, siblings, cousins. The sexual revolution has destroyed much of that now, and we are seeing the consequences play out on the streets.
Those primal screams Eberstadt wrote about are increasingly becoming a literal event, as politicians and activists alike have taken to abandoning argument altogether and are instead shrieking their anger at their ideological opponents. These emotional reactions, Eberstadt observed, are both pre-political and pre-rational. They come from a deep longing and fear over identity, and frame these longings and these fears in political terms in order to attempt a coherent expression of the source of their anger. Not incidentally, mental illness and narcissism are both sharply on the rise amongst the young, with one expert theorizing that the ubiquity of social media and the collective trauma of school shootings being two potential factors.
Several weeks ago, for example, LGBT activist Lia McGeever unleashed a prolonged scream at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting in protest of the DA’s decision not to pursue charges in the death of Banko Brown, which McGeever called additional evidence of an ongoing “trans genocide” in America. “I don’t have any words prepared today,” McGeever stated. “I just want you to feel our pain. I don’t know if you can at this point, based off your policy choices, but I have to pretend you have some form of empathy left. So, I am going to spend the next minute screaming ’cause that is what is going on in here,” McGeever said. ‘That is what the trans genocide in this country, in this city, has brought me to.”
A similar scene played out when Democrat Machaela Cavanaugh, a state senator from Nebraska, launched a filibuster of a pro-life and pro-family law that bans “sex changes” for minors. Cavanaugh took the podium and stated: “Trans people belong here. We need trans people. We love trans people.” She repeated it. And then she began chanting, and finally, screaming. She kept it up for a full two minutes on the floor of the Nebraska legislature, her voice increasingly betraying her loss of reason as she thumped the podium and worked herself into an emotional frenzy: