Identity Trap

All the rhetorical devices that have been a staple of identity politics are now being exploited by the Clinton and Obama campaigns against each other. They are competing to play the victim. They are both accusing each other of insensitivity. They are both deliberately misinterpreting each other’s comments in order to somehow imply that the other is morally retrograde.

All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action, like Ward Connerly and Thomas Sowell, and critics of the radical feminism, like Christina Hoff Sommers, are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners.

[David Brooks, The New York Times, 15 January 2008]

You know, both kinds of politicians can play the hypocrisy game. The “values” candidate doesn’t necessarily live out his legalistic religious rhetoric, and the “inclusive” candidate doesn’t necessarily want the most radical opinions to be heard. But “identity politics” has always embodied inherent contradictions; it is a fundamentally stupid way to look at life, and it has no place in a normally functioning society.

Update: More problems with identity politics

Hyde Park Stories

Identity Politics: Not What Dr. King Was About

The Perils of Identity Politics–CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, Wall Street Journal Commentary, 18 January 2008

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