On Identity Politics

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I didn't actually enjoy reading these TNC commenter posts but they sure got me thinking. I think I blew it in that post on Sotomayor. I was unfair. My worries about the reductionism of identity politics stand. And Ta-Nehisi isn't that far apart from me in fact. But it was unfair to project all that on a Latina woman who VN made it the hard way based on one stray comment and years of activism in her community. I got pwned and deserved it.

As to the broader issue, it is undeniable that our identity forms us; but it is still important in my view to aspire to something beyond it. Shelby Steele inspired me on this point a long time ago (and Oakeshott, of course); but I also read and learned a lot from Ellison and Baldwin and Foucault in the opposite camp. I have long struggled to achieve a balance in writing about homosexuality - objective and subjective - and haven't always succeeded. But the point was trying. On this blog, I write passionately about the subject but I hope I do not do so out of a sense of victimhood or in a way that doesn't assume that heterosexuals can easily grasp and agree with what I'm saying. Virtually Normal, in turn, tried to present a case that was airtight from any point of view, including that of a heterosexual.

But after I had written it as a draft argument, I realized, after some prayer and reflection, that it lacked something: why I cared, why it mattered and why it could not wait. Then I wrote the semi-autobiographical introduction. More people have told me they remember that part than any other section. Maybe I have more in common with Sotomayor than I realize.

Anyway, thanks, Ta-Nehisi, for your firmness and friendship.

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