Photo credit: Garrett Ziegler via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Dangerous Delusion of Margaret Atwood and “The Handmaid’s Tale”


Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is having something of a moment in the media right now. Video-streaming service Hulu recently adapted her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” into a TV series, and the liberal media is utterly delighted with it.

The implausible dystopia of “The Handmaid’s Tale” emerges after a group of Christian fundamentalists overthrow the United States government and implement a horrific caste system based on the subjugation of women. It’s essentially propaganda for the far-left’s agenda.

Many leftist members of the #Resistance who deplore President Trump have embraced Atwood’s novel and the Hulu series as a kind of rallying cry for their movement. To them, the novels are a cautionary tale of what will happen if Republicans maintain control in Washington.

For instance, in April, a far-left blog called Jezebel published a review of the Hulu series titled “The misogynist future of Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ feels terrifyingly within reach.” The author of that piece wrote:

The concept of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is wildly disturbing, but hardly unfathomable as we enter an era of increasingly draconian abortion law and a far-right leaning federal government that—during the brief time that the Trump administration has been in office—has shown little regard for the constitution and human rights in general.

The far-leftists who love “The Handmaid’s Tale” define freedom in only one way — perfect autonomy. They believe that women can only be free when they are free from all forms of coercion, whether it be from the government or from social standards imposed by a community or the obligations of family life.

Atwood herself endorsed this political ideology just last week. At the New York City BookCon on Saturday, one of Atwood’s readers asked for her opinion on new pro-life laws recently passed in Texas. Atwood responded that, in her view, any laws that restrict abortion are a “form of slavery” because they restrict a woman’s “freedom” and autonomy.

In the first place, Atwood’s comments clearly show that she does not understand the meaning of true freedom. No one but a radical feminist could think that violently ripping a fetus out of a mother’s womb is an act of freedom. In fact, many consider it an act of murder. The Texas legislature is not trying to infringe on women’s liberty; they’re simply protecting a child’s right to life. Comparing these new laws to chattel slavery — one of the worst crimes against humanity ever committed — is beyond twisted.

Aside from a callous disregard for unborn life, Atwood’s comments betray the almost-totalitarian strain in her own ideology. In his latest book, “The Fractured Republic,” conservative thinker Yuval Levin wrote, “Identity politics is the logical conclusion of the premises of our era of radical individualism.” In their pursuit of individual autonomy, Atwood, her fans, and other radical feminists find their identities in politics rather than in true community. They go on to villainize anyone outside of that tribal identity.

The problems with Atwood’s identity politics aren’t just theoretical, though. Like a propagandist, Atwood has inspired more than just blog posts and conference chatter. Last month, a handful of students at the University of Notre Dame walked out on Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address. One “antifascist” group which encouraged the walk-out explicitly identified Atwood’s work as an inspiration for their protest.

“Mike Pence is a fascist and he is a theocrat,” the group’s call-to-action said. “Mike Pence’s ideal society is akin to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’”

The kind of extremist rhetoric which Atwood’s propaganda encourages is dangerous. Ever since President Trump announced his campaign, pundits worried about “eroding democratic norms.” While the President’s Twitter habit may be frustrating to many Americans, the “antifa” #Resistance’s screeching perpetuates the pernicious idea the Americans are fighting some kind of cold civil war.

Standing up for pro-life values and religious liberty does not make Donald Trump or Mike Pence theocrats or fascists or slavers. The Republican Party did not stage a coup and institute draconian laws like the regime of Atwood’s novel.

Throwing those kinds of accusations around goes beyond irresponsibility and into the realm of delusion. If America is ever going to heal the rift in our politics, it starts with eliminating the ideological hysterics and returning to first principles.

Photo credit: Garrett Ziegler via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Michael Lucchese

Michael Lucchese is a regular contributor to

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