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Mayor Pete's Sister Souljah Moment

May 14, 2019 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

Even before reading what Pete Buttigieg said against identity politics, I was already
impressed that he went to the Human Rights Campaign to say it. HRC,
“the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and
queer civil rights organization,” is after all the House That
Identity Politics Built.

On one level, his comments critical of identity politics turned
out to be pretty mild. Barack Obama has said most of the same
things in slightly different words. It’s not as if Andrew
Sullivan, Christina Hoff Sommers, or Claire Lehmann were
ghostwriting his lines.

And what Buttigieg did say was interspersed with themes and
language gratifying to social justice enthusiasts. He endorsed the
sweeping Equality Act, which would federalize Main Street
public-accommodations disputes while whittling down religious
exemptions. He mentioned Stonewall and Harvey Milk. He even
acknowledged his own “privilege.” (Though he left
ambiguous the extent to which this referred to his white male-ness
as distinct from, say, the fortunate path traced by his education
and career.)

It will be interesting to
see whether Buttigieg has opened up space to move toward the center
which makes it possible for others to follow.

And yet the South Bend mayor immediately began taking flak for
his HRC remarks from some social justice advocates, not a few of
whom had already been caustic critics of his candidacy. They could
detect from his choice of words that he is not 100 percent on board
with their prescribed line—maybe not even 80
percent—and worse still, he is not afraid to say so.

One of his lines drawing fire is on the “my truth, your
truth” notion (“standpoint epistemology,” in the
jargon). Or as it might be put more aggressively: “we
[members of a marginalized identity] are the only authorities on
our experience.”

His response? That’s “true as far as it goes but it
doesn’t get us very far.” To you or me, that might read
like a platitude. To many on the identitarian left, it comes off as
dire wrongthink: after some point that is not “very
far” down the road, he intends to steer us all onto some
other discourse in which identity is not a trump card. This
doesn’t deny our subjective truth as marginalized
individuals, exactly, but it does tend to dethrone it as The Truth
of all truths.

Another example: Buttigieg’s comments were critical of
what he forthrightly calls “white identity politics.”
Again, a truism from one perspective, and forcefully stated too.
But to some on his left, this will be seen as an attempt at false
equivalence. Raising the idea that white and minority identity
politics can resemble each other is deeply problematic …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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