A (Relatively) Open Thread: Identity First (Update x2)

Mark Lilla, who gets a paycheck for, of all things, teaching humanities at Columbia University, took his career into his hands by writing an op-ed entitled The End of Identity Liberalism. Oh boy.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

While I would take issue with his characterization of liberalism, which I view as a conflation of liberalism with progressivism, that’s just my pet peeve. I’m big on definitions, which have gone out of fashion among intellectuals. But putting aside the labels, he makes a point that must have been painful:

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end.

He Gertrudes heavily, but that’s to be expected of an academic proposing such a contrarian view. But he ultimately goes to classic liberalism:

But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality.

Read the op-ed. Read the comments to it as well. While he gets there by different paths than I have, we end up in the same place. Is he right? Am I right? Am I the racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe, some other kind of -ist or -phobe that I can’t recall, that all the angry progressives tell me I am?

I made an observation yesterday on the twitters:

Ironic that a liberal today finds discussion with libertarians and conservatives more intellectually worthwhile than progressives.

Is there any hope of engaging beyond being called names? My efforts to do so have come to naught. Is there any way out?

Update: Ross Douthat tosses his two cents into the mix.

A lot of that argument already revolves around the concept of “identity politics,” used as shorthand for a vision of political liberalism as a coalition of diverse groups — gay and black and Asian and Hispanic and female and Jewish and Muslim and so on — bound together by a common struggle against the creaking hegemony of white Christian America.

That’s how it may appear following Trump’s win, but it ignores the fact that identity politics was going full steam before there was any “creaking hegemony of white Christian America” to attack as the enemy. Each identitarian group was focused on its own bitch, which included complaints against everyone else in the coalition to the extent one’s demands conflicted with another’s.

To his credit, he attempts to define the problem, but instead creates a strawman:

So now identitarian liberalism is taking fire from two directions. From the center-left, it’s critiqued as an illiberal and balkanizing force, which drives whit-cis-het people of good will rightward and prevents liberalism from speaking a language of the common good. From the left, it’s critiqued as an expression of class privilege, which cares little for economic justice so long as black lesbian Sufis are represented in the latest Netflix superhero show.

It’s hardly so limited and simplistic, but as with all strawman arguments, if you express the counterargument with accuracy and depth, it becomes substantially harder to knock down. But at least institutional pundits like Douthat are starting to recognize, even if inadequately, that cries of identitarian pain and special treatment are driving people away from their demands rather than toward them.

It’s true that identity politics is often illiberal, both in its emphasis on group experience over individualism and, in the web of moral absolutes — taboo words, sacred speakers, forbidden arguments — that it seeks to weave around left-liberal discourse. It’s also true that it privileges the metaphysical over the material, recognition over redistribution.

But liberal societies have always depended on an illiberal or pre-liberal substructure to answer the varied human needs — meaning, belonging, a vertical dimension to human life, a hope against mortality — that neither John Stuart Mill nor Karl Marx adequately addressed.

While Douthat has yet to scratch the surface of understanding the causes and extent of the divisiveness of identitarian progressivism (not liberalism, please), at least he’s not just calling everybody racist. Maybe there is hope. Or maybe he’s just trying to rationalize away the objections by creating a narrative that nobody but progressives will buy.

Update 2: Fellow(?) Columbia professor Katherine Franke explains why Lilla is worse than KKKlansman David Duke.

In the new political climate we now inhabit, Duke and Lilla were contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown.  Both men are underwriting the whitening of American nationalism, and the re-centering of white lives as lives that matter most in the U.S.  Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable.  Again.

Yes, more nefarious. Not just as nefarious, but more. Why?

Let me be blunt: this kind of liberalism is a liberalism of white supremacy.  It is a liberalism that regards the efforts of people of color and women to call out forms of power that sustain white supremacy and patriarchy as a distraction.  It is a liberalism that figures the lives and interests of white men as the neutral, unmarked terrain around which a politics of “common interest” can and should be built.

Well, that was blunt. Equality is so white supremacy and patriarchy.

58 thoughts on “A (Relatively) Open Thread: Identity First (Update x2)

  1. Richard C.

    I studied science and not so much history, but I believe that the American founders spent a lot of time trying to come up with a system of government where the common interests of the States would be promoted, while the diverse individuality of the States would tend not to be infringed. The concept works on other scales, where an organization is given just enough power to achieve the common interests without stifling much individuality. In as much as today’s libertarians and conservatives are small government, I think many of them understand and perhaps even revere this concept.

    Progressive governing today seems to be about making every part as diverse as the whole (potentially with force), even when such a goal is far down the list of what the whole would identify as being important. Then when someone wants to promote a truly common interest at the expense of some identity-goal, that person is automatically racist, etc., because they’re not respecting that identity.

    If people are able to work well together on the things that they have in common, then their differences will tend to fail to matter. Reasonable people will celebrate this, but those who have built careers on identity politics see it as an existential threat. This isn’t even just a left-leaning thing, since there are plenty of special interests on the right (and even right-authoritarians).

    There’s not much hope as long as our schools and our media keep churning out the Vox generation that can’t or won’t consider multiple viewpoints and actually think for themselves. I can’t morally suggest that government should step in and force thought-diversity in our schools, but the free-market solution does seem cruel. Maybe promoting STEM and defunding worthless degrees is the best we can do while we hope that the country keeps itself together for a few decades.

  2. Mark

    Lilla’s thinking is ahistorical and anti-realist. People, not labels, do and say things. Inasmuch as a label is shorthand for a set of ideas, terms like “liberal” and “progressive” mean something. Lilla uses the labels as if ideas, not actual people who carried out political action. Ideas don’t have a life independent of people doing and saying things. Referring to Reagan and Clinton (as he does) as if their rhetoric alone, rather than their appealing personalities, the economies over which they presided, or a number of factors, led to the popularity of their presidencies.

    Lilla is right about what’s happening on campus. These are college kids, not some disembodied ‘liberalism,” who are focusing on identity. A segment of college kids have always been protesting something. When I was at UMass, Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman took over a building to protest CIA recruitment. A few years later, some students took over a building to protest the bellicose, sexist Minuteman team name. The UMass Artichokes was suggested as a possible replacement. The name remains the same. (You’ll be delighted to know gender activists held a “Shit In” this week in the UMass administration building to protest the scarcity of gender neutral bathrooms). By far the biggest protest I recall was when kegs were banned from campus.

    The OCR letter about transgender rights was an act with consequences. Student protests? Not so much. As a high school teacher, I’ve been living with the transgender issue. Our school went to robes of a single color and gender neutral bathrooms (once faculty bathrooms with locks on the door). I march in the Northampton Pride Parade and have chaperoned conferences where they ask participants what pronoun they prefer. Based on Lilla’s op-ed, one might expect these folks are driving young liberals. They aren’t. In the last election, a record number of my students worked on political campaigns that had nothing to do with identity politics as Lilla regards it. We have a Gender Sexuality Alliance (formerly known as Gay Straight Alliance). One of the members was involved on the Democratic state senate campaign because I had gotten her an internship months ago.

    Are you a racist? Heterosexist? Those terms shed less light than heat. Should there be affirmative action? Should people be able to use the bathroom of their choice? Do you treat these people unfairly? Your answers matter, but do they define you? Your reasoning does. One of my former students married and moved to Arizona where she teaches English. Since the beginning of this school year, she received an anonymous email from a former student who claimed she had advanced a “Jewish feminist” agenda as a teacher. Her second grade son had a classmate draw a swastika on a paper and stick in his face. Are these kids anti-semites? Their actions are certainly anti-semitic. Is it identity politics to protest these actions? The label is unimportant. The effects of actions and speech count.

    (Please don’t post this if it’s too long or whatever. I can take any comment abuse people dole out, but I don’t want to violate the norms or rules).

    1. SHG Post author

      I don’t know what I think until I see what I write.

      You may want to think on it more. You’re all over the place.

      1. Mark

        Thanks.

        Lilla confuses his abstractions with reality. I would prefer a more empirically-based argument than his handful of abstractions.

        (I have read his stuff in NYRB and developed a distaste for him there. Now I realize why.

  3. Nick Lidakis

    Is there any hope of engaging beyond being called names? My efforts to do so have come to naught. Is there any way out?

    You run out of single origin Nicaragua beans this morning that you’re in need of some serious tummy rubs?

    P.S. One person very close to me confided that she could not realise how desperate and how much people were hurting until after the election, and how deep on the NYT bubble she had been. It’s a start…

  4. PVanderwaart

    It’s hard to make a case for a major change in political approach when this year’s results are within a percentage point or two of the election 8 years ago won by a liberal, and when this year’s liberal candidate won the popular vote, whatever the consequences in Electoral College. There is a meme about that HRC lost mostly because she failed to name check labor along with Black, and Hispanic and LGBT that’s going to look very attractive. Tim Ryan is challenging Pelosi with that argument.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s not hard at all. Whoever told you that either lied to you or is a moron. I go with the latter, because Hanlon’s Razor and I’m a generous person.

    2. Christopher Best

      Are you sure? From an outsider’s point of view, the fact that HRC didn’t completely blow Trump out of the water should be a pretty major wake-up call. Have you seen Trump? The guy’s an embarassing idiot. This shouldn’t have been a contest.

      As to our illustrious host: I don’t think there’s a way to engage with certain people without being called names (I have a perverse pleasure watching people I talk to lately squirm because they want so badly to call me a Trump supporter but know I’m not), but I wonder if those people are even relevant anymore. Or ever were.

      Much like they live in a bubble where identity politics are everything, we live in a slightly larger bubble (with them) made up of people who talk in web comments and on Twitter… The vast majority of the voting public doesn’t know we exist, doesn’t read what we write, and makes up their mind anyway.

      1. SHG Post author

        The vast majority of the voting public doesn’t know we exist, doesn’t read what we write, and makes up their mind anyway.

        Well, that explains a lot.

      2. davep

        Republicans were not going to vote for Clinton and many were sufficiently motivated to vote for anybody (even Trump) to keep her out of office. And lots of Republicans like Trump. About 50% of the US population is Republican. And Clinton wasn’t that popular with Democrats. There was no way Clinton was going to “blow Trump out of the water”. It was going to be a 50/50 election in any case (regardless of who was running).

        1. SHG Post author

          You can’t apply old paradigms to the Trump/Clinton option. Your assumptions of the usual 50/50 split do not apply when so many respectable Republicans refuse to support their party’s candidate because he’s unfit for office. Had this been a Trump v. Any mildly acceptable alternative, the latter would have crushed the former because no candidate in the history of the universe was ever so manifestly unqualified to be president.

          1. B. McLeod

            But if you get a pair o’ dimes struck in ’64 or earlier, they’ll be silver. A silver pair o’ dimes. Move ’em from your left pocket to your right pocket, and you’ve got a pair o’ dimes shift.

          2. davep

            The 50/50 split isn’t an assumption.

            “when so many respectable Republicans refuse to support their party’s candidate because he’s unfit for office”

            Are there really “many” of these (enough to matter)?

            Between the choice of yielding power and electing Clinton or holding their noses while pulling the lever, even “respectable Republicans” likely held their noses and voted the party line (as one would predict).

  5. Agammamon

    “Is there any hope of engaging beyond being called names? My efforts to do so have come to naught. Is there any way out?”

    For the Progressive mainstream – not really. Even if you step back, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re not insane (debatable IMO) or evil (most likely not) they still want something that is inherently at odds with the rest of the country (‘protected classes’, not ‘human rights’). Mainly just let them alone. They’ll cry for a bit, post pictures of their tears on social media, then realize that the rent *still* isn’t paid and head off to work with the rest of the country – even if work is wrangling a government grant to take spend a couple weeks on Fire Island.

    http://www.boffo-ny.org/#pp2p15/featured

    The *liberals*, maybe – but its mostly going to be pointing out that their movement is dead in the water and come over here we’ve got pie and punch and have you ever heard of ‘bleeding heart libertarianism’?

    1. SHG Post author

      Leave them Fire Island. It was always theirs.

      Remember those blue states in 2008 and 2012 that went red in 2016? The ones that PVanderwaart fails to incorporate into his rationalization? That’s not because liberals wanted to vote for Trump, arguably the least qualified candidate ever (which was part of his “charm”), but because classic liberals rejected PC politics in general and Clinton in particular in droves. Sure, they have the feelz like everybody else, but not to the exclusion of rational thought.

      Or their rednecks.

      1. PVanderwaart

        So PC identity politics has been supplanted by non-PC identity politics. White Christians, immigrants, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, the undeserving poor…

        1. SHG Post author

          That’s a curious takeaway, but I guess if you’re locked into the notion that there is no politics that’s not identity, it’s got to be about somebody’s identity. Here’s a different paradigm to consider. Everyone puts their own issues first, but not everyone expects everyone else to put their issues first, or calls them names when they don’t. It’s not they’re necessarily antagonistic toward anyone or any policy, but they’re not prepared to let their kids go hungry for someone else’s feelz.

          You can call that anything you like, and wallow in the self-righteousness of social justice, but you will always lose elections because everybody has their own problems that come before progressive feelz. It’s not identity politics, but people.

          And to take it a step further, it’s one thing to put the issue of cops killing unarmed innocent black men up front, but quite another to put complaints about the failure to use personal pronouns or being forced to read dead white authors in your European Lit course.

      2. Agammamon

        Then those liberals might feel more at home helping firm what the hell exactly ‘liberaltarianism’ or ‘libertarian socialism’ should encompass. Its ‘left-leaning’ from people who want to be libertarian but don’t want to give up government social nets either. Not my cup of tea, but having more people explore that idea space won’t hurt anyone.

        Unless they’re willing to fight hard to reclaim it (and this election gives them an opening), the Democratic Party is firmly Progressive now and the old Liberals (not ‘Classic Liberal’ from my understanding – those guys predate the ‘hijacking of the word Liberal’ and are now mostly subsumed in the libertarian camp, but the ‘Liberal is a bad word’ ones from my youth) are not particularly wanted as they do use that rational thought from time to time.

        Plus, most of them have real jobs. Which is a kicker to the Progressives youts that couldn’t get into the government/NGO post they wanted right out of college.

  6. Jay

    Identity politics is a form of the cultural pluralism that came to be accepted as an idea for a society in the 40s. I think anyone who could think would have seen where pluralism would lead- factions warring among themselves like children. With the occasional adult stepping in to say “we’re all Americans!” and getting nothing but boos and rhetorical questions about the meaning of the term in return.

    From the founding in 1780 till even now the idea of the melting pot, the idea that different cultures would come together and evolve by mixing, was the foundation for who this country was to be. It was hated by everyone because no one wanted to have to give up anything, and the majority had elements that feared letting in undesirables. Pluralism won out when the majority decided it would prefer the minorities just stayed on their side.

    From a governance standpoint, identity politics is brilliant. It’s a divide and conquer strategy. Most Americans have no idea who their leaders are, where the countries they are at war with are located, how the economy works, what a stock is, etc. They’re too busy learning and concerning themselves with the far more exciting questions of “who am I?” that identity politics poses. When I worked with foster kids in SoCal, I became distinctly aware of how my clients would prefer to spend all day discussing the drama going on in their circles of friends rather than getting a job and finding a place to live. That’s something I have since noticed among the majority of people I encounter. Identity politics feeds on people’s love of entertainment and the fact that they will ignore actual needs in favor of the interesting feelz that drama gives them.

    How do you get out of this? Reality has to hit. This is decadence in a nutshell. Eventually, the oil will run out, world wars will start. Identity politics will either disappear (ha!) or society will break apart into tribes.

    If a person were foolish enough to want to try and work toward the world where people stop worrying about what group they’re in and how others perceive them, they certainly can engage in trying to teach and preach. Teach that when people allow themselves to be divided they are destroying rather than building a stable society. Preach that “deep questions” about who we are cannot be answered by picking premade cultural groups and waging bitter war with everyone else. That’s how gangs operate, not how a society becomes successful.

    Maybe people will get it when the world starts to crumble. But I doubt it.

      1. qb

        The premise that the US is a melting pot from its founding is false, and SHG repeatedly admonishes that making folks stupider isn’t an outcome he would like to see, let’s correct that:
        “Federal naturalization laws (1790, 1795).

        United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (March 26, 1790).

        Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States. “

        1. SHG Post author

          I’m unclear how that proves your point and corrects Jay’s “from the founding,” which wasn’t a material part of his point, but okay.

  7. CLS

    There is a way out. It isn’t easy and requires actual work, but we can engage about big ideas without resorting to name calling.

    The first step requires those who embody the “regressive left” learn the lessons of Election Year 2016. From this redneck’s perspective, “progressives” either forgot or didn’t give a shit the guy working down the line at Denso cares more about paying the note on his house than which bathroom people use. Calling that sentiment “racist, sexist, transohomophobic bigotry” made a hell of a lot of us throw the lever to say “fuck you” and bring President Trump. The aftermath, calling every cabinet appointment horrendous names and doubling down by blaming everyone but themselves for their problems, suggests they’re not quite ready to get started.

    Second, the smug bastards in the media need to understand there are people in places other than New York and Los Angeles, and DC, and we’re paying attention. We watch when the Times “re-dedicates” itself to honest journalism on Friday and smears Steve Bannon as anti-Semitic on Monday. We see the smug, condescending attitudes of John Stewart, John Oliver, and Brandon Dixon on display and we despise it. If they want us to come to the table with them and engage, they need to do a bit of soul-searching first, and maybe do a bit of apologizing.

    Finally, it would do everyone good to acknowledge no one has all the answers. I’ve had a number of conversations with those in the “regressive left” that ended with me saying “You know, that’s a really good point. I haven’t thought about that before. Do you mind if I do a bit of research on the issue and then get back to you?” Many times I’ve learned something that changed my mind. The gesture is appreciated by their side. I’ve never seen any of the “regressives” attempt anything similar.

    I could continue, but there’s more pressing concerns. Florida must lose to LSU or Aunt Tammy’s setting the couch on fire.

    1. SHG Post author

      My experience has been no better than yours. I wondered if I was just particularly ineffective at communicating. Apparently, it’s not just me.

      1. Derek Ramsey

        You are very good at explaining your viewpoints with the rare ability to convince others. And you are fair: you allow people to spout opposing viewpoints that you consider nonsense. But unless you really accept the notion that your own views could be wrong, it’s fair and reasoned, but ultimately a one-sided presentation.

        Have you ever had any of your core beliefs challenged and had to change them? Perhaps many times privately. But have you communicated this publicly? The overwhelming sense of reading your blog is that you tolerate contrary views but there really is no chance that anyone could actually convince you of anything significantly opposed to your own views.

        1. SHG Post author

          I have. Not often, but then, I tend not to express views that I haven’t thought about in some depth beforehand, so it’s not unsurprising that it’s not often. Long time readers will have seen me change my mind, but newer readers may not for this reason. Long time readers could speak to that better than I could.

          Also, most of the challenges here tend not to be particularly well communicated, persuasive or thoughtful, which doesn’t serve to change my mind.

          1. Derek Ramsey

            Yes, you have well reasoned posts that are very difficult to challenge. But you also write a lot, normally multiple posts a day. Nobody is fundamentally right 99.9% of the time. You should be wrong more often if you want to be an more effective communicator.

            I’m not saying you are not compelling: you are. But the rarity of you being wrong might indicate any of the following: that you are an exceptional human being; that the blog is a self-created echo chamber; that this is the reason you are not as good a communicator as you would like to be.

            I once presented you with a study on police interactions. You dismissed it, not on the basis of anything in the study, but because you didn’t believe its conclusion could be true. I’m not saying you were wrong, but by all appearances you didn’t care if the study might correct because you had already made up your mind.

            Of course this blog is for you, not for us, so you are under no obligation to argue with anyone or answer any of their questions. That’s fine, but the consequence is that it might limit your ability to communicate.

            1. SHG Post author

              Not really. My posts aren’t random. I pick what I write about and do so for a reason, so your “Nobody is fundamentally right 99.9% of the time” misses the point. Moreoever, I’m not saying I’m right, but that I’m unpersuaded that I’m wrong. Big difference.

              So you know, I get a lot of emails every day from people who send me stories, studies, law review articles, decisions. Not to hurt your feelings, but I can’t dedicate my life to reading everything everyone sends me or I would be reading stuff 60 hours a day. The numbers don’t work. So, if something doesn’t strike me as interesting, accurate or promising, I don’t take it any further. You see the one thing you sent me. I see the 100 things everyone sends me everyday.

  8. Allen

    ” Is there any way out?” Short answer, no.

    A few more articles by women about men acting badly might help though. Or maybe more op-eds by east coast professors of mystifying subjects might clear things up. Oh well, I’m sure it will go quite nicely. Odd though, the “let it burn” crowd seems to be getting larger and louder. Hmmm, must be something wrong with them.

    1. SHG Post author

      I am, I’m told, a well-known misogynist for my refusal to want to be a more feminine sort of guy. But I have some concern that a great many young men who would prefer to watch football and burp on occasion are being indoctrinated to using Axe body wash, manscaping and refusing to pull out the nail.

      That nail’s gotta hurt.

      1. Nick Lidakis

        I am, I’m told, a well-known misogynist for my refusal to want to be a more feminine sort of guy.

        Let us know if you change your mind. Minor alterations to your naval uniform will be required.

        via SIZZLE

  9. Derek Ramsey

    Am I the racist, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe, some other kind of -ist or -phobe that I can’t recall, that all the angry progressives tell me I am?

    One aspect of identity liberalism is the reliance on vilifying that which isn’t evil. You are one example of those vilified. Those who don’t want mixed genitalia in their bathrooms are another example. When taken to extremes it becomes ‘moral inversion’. It is detached from reason and thus reality. I’m reminded of your responses to ‘dm’ (on his 2 year-old nephew) and especially to PVanderwaart (on ObamaCare) earlier this week.

    Ironic that a liberal today finds discussion with libertarians and conservatives more intellectually worthwhile than progressives.

    It’s revealing that you think this is ironic. Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and even progressives have good and bad ideas. They are like humans that way. Unless you think that progressives hold some sort of grasp of ultimate rightness, this shouldn’t be ironic at all. Do you think it ironic because progressives and liberals hold many of the same goals?

    Reason is not the sole domain of liberals. I follow many authors and blogs. Even though they hold a wide variety of positions of politics, religion, and philosophy, they all have one thing in common: the use of reason.

    Is there any way out?

    Philosophically speaking, embracing the primacy of reason (for logical centering) and religion (for moral centering).

    Practically speaking, post-election I’ve had some of the best discussions with those who hold a variety of viewpoints. If the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one, then the process has begun. The op-ed you cited wouldn’t have happened without the election going the way it did. It’s too early to panic. I really hope it doesn’t get to the point where the world starts to crumble, as Jay puts it.

  10. Patrick Maupin

    [A] moral panic … has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

    As Mark points out above, Lilla definitely confuses the map for the territory. Liberalism does not govern; people govern.

    Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.

    And even better, this governing liberalism which is supposed to lead us away from identity politics is supposed to use the the identity politics of nationalism to do so.

    The fact that Lilla lands close to a position that you (and I, FWIW) agree with doesn’t mean that he’s not a blind squirrel. But, hey, if he can convince some of the other blind squirrels to come along, the more the merrier.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m a little too practical to give a damn about the philosophical path one takes to get there, as long as he gets there. Just his getting there (or anywhere near) is itself remarkable.

  11. Scott Jacobs

    Is there any hope of engaging beyond being called names?

    No.

    Is there any way out?

    No.

    There. Don’t you feel better?

  12. B. McLeod

    For a long time, people who thought they were a different gender than their physiology indicated were considered to suffer from a “disorder.” Now, it has been politically corrected to a “dysphoria,” but still in a manual (DSM) which is only used to describe diagnostic criteria for mental illness.

    Now, politically, “progressive liberals” have decided that how a person subjectively “identifies” should control over that person’s objective physiology. So much so that everybody in the population should be forced by the government to recognize any person’s subjective gender “identity” whether or not it matches physiology, and even if/when it shifts day-to-day (for the “gender fluids” among us).

    As I see it, anyone has a right to insist on a delusion, even if he or she thinks himself or herself to be Napoleon or Cleopatra. However, none of them have, or ever will have, a right to require me (or anyone) to salute them in accordance with their subjective (and insane) perceptions of who they are. Government is out of bounds when it seeks to impose a political belief that subjective “identity” controls over objective physiology. Government is out of bounds when it seeks to compel speech consistent with the political belief it favors.

    1. Dragoness Eclectic

      Which “objective physiology” is that? The brain’s physiology, which controls what gender you think like/as, or the reproductive system’s physiology, that controls what gender you physically appear to be? “Gender dysphoria” is when those systems don’t agree, and, identity politics be damned, it is a disorder. Anytime your body’s intricate systems dysfunctionally disagree with each other, it’s a “disorder” at the very least. It’s NOT a delusion.

      You appear to think that the gonads are more important than the brain in determining gender. I tend to think the brain is more important–I can live without gonads or ovaries, but I can’t live without a brain. I also think with my brain, and not my genitals. I would suggest, then, that the brain’s gender is more important than the dangly bits in determining what gender a person is.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Fine. My brain is my most important organ. So why are these people who purportedly care about the most important organ constantly giving it splitting headaches by telling me that the information provided to my brain by my eyes and ears is completely wrong?

        1. SHG Post author

          It’s a silly thing to debate. Genitals are objective. Feelings are not. If someone says they have them, it’s impossible to prove they don’t.

          1. Dragoness Eclectic

            Brains are complicated organs. We’re just starting to get a handle on them in the 21st century, with the assistance of tools like MRI and so on. Depression and OCD used to be considered “just feelings” you couldn’t prove. Now we can see the differences between them and normal brain function using MRI. Could be we’ll see the same sort of thing with gender dysphoria in time.

            (Or I’m completely wrong and the current science is still in flux: we may find out that “gender dysphoria” is the result of trying to shove complicated humans into over-simplified social niches.)

            1. SHG Post author

              Why do I get the sense that as you wrote out that comment, you had a sudden epiphany about what’s wrong with what you were writing and how you you bootstrapped “we actually don’t know shit” into “so therefore it could maybe sorta be real. Eventually. Maybe.”

      2. B. McLeod

        First, your claim completely fails to account for the “gender-fluids,” unless you contend that their brain physiology is flipping back and forth. Second, you ignore the point that the “progressive liberal” determination is not based on physiology of anything, but simply upon a person’s self-declaration of subjective identity (which may vary from day to day).

  13. D-Poll

    There’s hope, if not of engaging with the Progressives, at least of their eventual irrelevance. I’m only 24 and educated, prime Clinton demographic, but I voted Aleppo (as my social circle likes to say, to make fun of the media who we agree didn’t know Aleppo from their respective assholes the day before) out of blue-state privilege and preferred Trump to Clinton by a huge margin. (My friends thought I was crazy for being so sure that Trump was going to win, and specifically for saying he had a shot at winning Pennsylvania.) I can confirm that there are others like me; not many, not as many as we both might like, but we’ll keep the lights on and the oil running while the perma-children are crying in their corner.

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