Friday, December 30, 2016

The End of Identity Liberalism




It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

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.
One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

Is Criticism of Identity Politics Racist or Long Overdue?



NOVEMBER 23, 2016

INTRODUCTION

rfdraceCritics said President-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan celebrated a time before racial discrimination, gender inequality and homophobia were matters of concern.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A widely discussed op-ed by Mark Lilla in The New York Times (above) argued that the Democratic Party had gone astray by engaging in “identity politics” that were more concerned with a diversity of demands by women, African-Americans, immigrants and L.G.B.T. people, than in appealing to Americans as a whole. Some said that piece implied that liberals should ignore unique and real issues faced by anyone who isn’t a white man.
Is criticism of political correctness and identity politics a reaction that’s long overdue or just racist?
This is part of the Issues for Trump and America series.
READ THE DISCUSSION »

DEBATERS

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Is Wonder Woman being Forced into Early Retirement



As of Friday, Wonder Woman will no longer be an honorary U.N. ambassador. A petition protesting her appointment called her "a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions." Above, a display at Comic-Con International 2016 shows the evolution of her costume.
Matt Cowan/Getty Images
It's come to light this week that the comic superhero's controversial tenure as the United Nations' honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls will be coming to a close this Friday.
That's less than two months since the character was unveiled as the face of a U.N. social media campaign to promote women's rights via tweets and facebook callouts. The decision sparked protests both in and out of the organization, with nearly 45,000 people ultimately signing an online petition that called the choice of a fictional character with "an overtly sexualized image" to represent gender equality "alarming" and "extremely disappointing."
But in a phone interview with NPR today, Jeffrey Brez, a United Nations official in the same department, said that while the plan was for DC Comics to continue activities in the coming year, the U.N. piece was never intended to last as long.At the time, officials of both the UN and DC Comics — which owns the rights to the character of Wonder Woman — said the campaign would continue well into 2017. "As long as there's momentum in the campaign we'll move forward," Maher Nasser, the U.N. official who essentially brokered the collaboration between the United Nations and DC Comics, told NPR in late October. "They have committed to a year."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lynda Carter Deflects Critics of Wonder Woman








Is Wonder Woman a “pinup girl” or a feminist icon? The question dogged a United Nations campaign that featured the superhero as a symbol of self-empowerment for girls and women.
While some feminists may have felt triumphant when the United Nations announced the end of the Wonder Woman campaign this month (in an earlier New York Times article, a United Nations spokesman said that the campaign had merely run its course, and that the end had nothing to do with the uproar), one loyalist was not going to sit by as her cape was dragged through the mud: Lynda Carter, the actress who starred in the 1970s television show “Wonder Woman.
While some feminists may have felt triumphant when the United Nations announced the end of the Wonder Woman campaign this month (in an earlier New York Times article, a United Nations spokesman said that the campaign had merely run its course, and that the end had nothing to do with the uproar), one loyalist was not going to sit by as her cape was dragged through the mud: Lynda Carter, the actress who starred in the 1970s television show “Wonder Woman.”
Of the pushback that accompanied the campaign, Ms. Carter believes that some of it may be because “the U.N. didn’t put a woman in there.” The ambassadorship was announced just weeks after the United Nations passed over several women to be secretary-general.
Now 65, she is preparing to pass her golden lasso to Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress who will appear in next spring’s film version of “Wonder Woman.” Ms. Carter took time from acting (including a role as the president on “Supergirl” and a governor in the coming film “Super Troopers 2”) and career as a singer (she just competed a four-city tour and is recording her third studio album) to discuss the complex legacy of her Amazon princess alter ego. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2017 EDGE QUESTION : WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN? SEX

By Helena Cronin
London School of Economics

The poet Philip Larkin famously proclaimed that sex began in 1963. He was inaccurate by 800 million years. Moreover, what began in the 1960s was instead a campaign to oust sex—in particular sex differences—in favor of gender.
Why? Because biological differences were thought to spell genetic determinism, immutability, anti-feminism and, most egregiously, women's oppression. Gender, however, was the realm of societal forces; "male" and "female" were social constructs, the stuff of political struggle; so gender was safe sex.
The campaign triumphed. Sex now struggles to be heard over a clamor of misconceptions, fabrications and denunciations. And gender is ubiquitous, dominating thinking far beyond popular culture and spreading even to science—such that a respected neuroscience journal recently felt the need to devote an entire issue to urging that sex should be treated as a biological variable.
And, most profoundly, gender has distorted social policy. This is because the campaign has undergone baleful mission-creep. Its aim has morphed from ending discrimination against women into a deeply misguided quest for sameness of outcome for males and females in all fields—above all, 50:50 across the entire workplace. This stems from a fundamental error: the conflation of equality and sameness. And it's an error all too easily made if your starting point is that the sexes are "really" the same and that apparent differences are mere artifacts of sexist socialization.