Saturday, November 19, 2016

The End of Identity Liberalism - The New York Times

When you group people and make everything about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and a checklist of other "differences" you are also creating and reinforcing the "Working-Class White Male Christian" grouping. That really is not helpful.

Even a few of the New York Times' writers are starting to understand this. Create groups at your own peril, progressives. You might find it doesn't help create a national identity or unity.
The End of Identity Liberalism - The New York Times:  
By MARK LILLA — NOV. 18, 2016
The whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity, which is what they mean by “political correctness.” Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists. Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.
We start early, telling young children all about differences... and I wonder how is that helpful when children do not see through adult, prejudiced lenses. We create groups and then encourage people to engage in victimhood competition. My marginalization is worse than yours!

Too often my liberal and progressive friends tear at each other, complaining that one person has too much privilege to understand group X, Y, or Z. The response is "Oh yeah? I belong to groups A, B, and C, and I'm therefore marginalized in soooo many ways!"

Stop it. Get over it.

Address serious, real racism, sexism, and so on. But stop making such big productions about how marginalized groups deserve automatic sainthood. No. They don't. Making it sound like oppression is somehow a baptism that purifies the soul is as absurd as assuming that belonging to the groups in power makes a person evil.

This is a lousy time in the United States, created by two political parties playing groups against each other. And don't claim I'm guilty of unfair equivalence. The progressive movement has, in fact, done serious harm to groups by emphasizing checklists of people and caring more about those factors than anything else.

Was Pres. Barak Obama the first black president? Yes. Okay. Great. Now move on. He seemed to be more ready to move on and do his job than some of the white academic progressives I know.

Would Hillary Clinton have been the first female president? Yes. But that's not a reason to elect her. I opposed Trump, but I was not going to vote for anyone based on superficial traits. Yes, I used the word superficial because that's how the fawning over Hillary started to sound. Focusing on her qualification and her skills would have been much better and maybe more persuasive.
 
Read Mark Lilla's column. It's thoughtful and offers a moment of reflection for liberals / progressives wondering why their identity politics backfired.

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