Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 70(3) August 2020

Book Review

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, by Douglas Murray. Published Bloomsbury Continuum

Reviewed by Pravin Thevasathan

Book CoverAre there such things as racism, homophobia and misogyny? Of course there are. Murray is too subtle a writer to pretend otherwise. But there is, says Murray, something ominous going on currently. Liberal leaning academics and others are using these real issues to further their own agenda, which ultimately involves the suppression of free speech. As Murray puts it, the "enquiring aspect" of liberalism is being replaced by a liberal dogma­tism. One thinks here of the Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow being investigated by the police for referring to a male person who was operated on at the age of sixteen to have a female appearance as a male person.

In a chapter on homosexuality, Murray states that calling oneself gay is an unstable way of describing oneself. Science has not come up with any specific causes of homosexuality. Besides, says Murray, the gay community is itself divided between those who want to be accepted as gay by the wider community and those who want to be recognised as fundamentally different from the heterosexual community.

Many feminists have regarded gender as a social construct. But Murray notes that transgender activists see it as an absolute value. It defines who they are. Children with gender dysphoria are given "corrective" therapies including surgery and drug treatments. What about male couples who want to raise their own biological children? Are not women effectively written off in this scenario?

It is also acceptable for a man to identify as a woman but it is not acceptable for a black man to identify as white. Murray suggests that attempts at recognizing these different claims lead invari­ably to " an invitation to madness." It is simply not possible to reconcile these various claims: one group will suffer. What about those born male taking part in women's sports? Do they not have a natural advantage?

Murray gives an excellent description of the current "madness." But he appears not to have reasons for the cause. It is surely due to rejection of the natural law. He also has the view that homosexuals have a better understanding of female sexuality than male heterosexuals. He appears to have little understanding of sexual complementarity as taught by the Catholic Church.

Despite those concerns, this work is a powerful and persuasive argument in favour of free speech