Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Identity Politics

How to Reframe Anti-Discrimination Politics to Overcome Division

A few readers asked a good question about yesterday’s post. The question boils down to something like this:

How can we talk about discrimination–about racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia–if we have to show conspicuous respect for the white working class? Some of them are racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. How can we deal with them in a way that isn’t appeasement?

The people asking this question believe that we can’t fight discrimination while concurrently respecting the people who practice it. But this isn’t true–we can do both at once. Indeed, by respecting these people we can make our anti-discrimination advocacy more effective. Here’s how.

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How to Fight Fascism Intelligently

President Trump was inaugurated Friday, and a lot of people are understandably upset. Many want to do something about this. This is a good and noble impulse, but I fear in our efforts to fight right nationalism we will instead end up its handmaidens. Let me show you what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »

Samantha Bee Doesn’t Understand the Left’s Objection to Identity Politics

I ran across a Samantha Bee clip in which Bee attacks Bernie Sanders and others members of the left who believe the Democratic Party needs to get away from “identity politics”:

In the clip, Bee explains left-wing opposition to identity politics by having a right-wing Fox news presenter misexplain the term. She then asserts that identity politics is synonymous with civil rights, claims that “white men” are an identity, and accuses the left of abandoning its principles. This is a reductive straw man argument. It collapses important distinctions in the way the left and the right criticize identity politics.

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Brexit is the Right Nationalist Response to Austerity

Like many people, I initially responded to Brexit with outrage at the terrible consequences of the result for the British people. Among other things, they may lose crucial worker, consumer, and environmental protections, they may lose access to the European market, they may lose the opportunity to work with other European countries on climate change and tax avoidance, and they may even lose Scotland. It is critical that the British Parliament assert its sovereignty and decline to implement the results of the non-binding advisory referendum, which was a mistake to hold in the first place. After all, by asserting UK sovereignty, Brexiteers are asserting the sovereignty of Parliament, so if Parliament declines to invoke Article 50 and chooses to stay in the EU it is merely exercising the very powers the Brexiteers wished to assert for it. But today I want to take a step back and look at the big picture–why the vote went the way it did and what that says about where we’re at. Many people have been happy to chalk the Leave win up to bigotry and leave it at that, but this response is too reductive and doesn’t give us enough to work with. If bigotry is the problem, why is bigotry the problem now? There have been bigoted people in Britain and in the EU and all over the world forever, but Brexit didn’t happen in 1996 or 2006, it happened in 2016. What’s different about now? Brexit is not the result of some culture war between the nice people and the nasty people, it is a consequence of economic stagnation and inequality and of a voting public that is unable to correctly identify the causes of that stagnation and inequality or confront them with meaningful and effective policy.

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Is Trump Being Racist About Judge Curiel?

Over the past week, Donald Trump has been repeatedly attacking Judge Gonzalo Curiel, claiming he is unfit to handle the Trump University case because he is a “Trump hater” and that he is a Trump hater because he is Mexican. This looks straightforwardly racist, and many people from both parties have accused Trump of racism. But two days ago Trump did not appear ready to back down, instead instructing his people to intensify their criticism of the judge and members of the media who go after Trump on the issue. Then yesterday his campaign seemed to do a U-turn–it issued a statement alleging that Curiel is biased because of his professional associations rather than because he is Mexican, and announced that Trump does not intend to comment on the case any further. This implies that Trump really did think there was a way to make some sort of political gain here, but now at the very least has determined that he has nothing further to gain by talking about it. What did Trump think he was going to get out of this? For the past couple days I’ve been trying to figure this out, and I have a theory of what has been going on in his head.

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