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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-11 03:10 AM
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Liberal vs. conservative identity politics
Thought about this after the UC Berkeley affirmative action bake sale.

Conservatives looooove to complain about how liberals embrace identity politics because they DARE expose how white male privilege affects American society. Their response is usually along the lines of "lift yourself up by your own bootstraps" or "stop being a PC whiny victim" without addressing the issue.

However, I've noticed that the right continuously wants to enforce racially and religiously based ideals about the country. Read any conservative cultural commentator and notice how they will insist that America is a Christian nation and that the country's freedom depends on how many of our people believe the values of an archaic holy book and fear a mythical being, even though thanks to a CONSTITUTIONAL freedom to do so more Americans are choosing not to be religious. In 1991, Michael Savage wrote an anti-affirmative action book (or better a whiny rant) The Death of the White Male. In 2000, David Horowitz wrote Hating Whitey, a possibly dishonest, lying screed accusing liberals of being anti-white. In 2010, a poll showed that 28% of Americans in general and 52% of tea party supporters felt that problems of African-Americans had too much attention.

One right-wing blogger even referred to criticism of the Berkeley bake sale as "hatred of whites." (The author, by the way, often trolled the Media Matters comment sections and wrote a painfully stupid blog that attempts to refute MM with Heritage Foundation "research".)

Back to the theme of the Christian nation, a Washington Post article from June, "Conservative women enthusiastic about Bachmann, Palin", attempted to distance the right from ID politics but didn't: "...conservatives generally do not like identity politics and tend to say they are not considering a candidates sex or race in their decision...But voters increasingly are looking for candidates to whom they can personally relate." Think about why nearly everyone in Congress is a Christian. Or why Charles Rangel, John Conyers, and Jim Clyburn represent districts with large populations of color. Based on that fact (and attack it as false equivalence with the Bachmann/Palin example if you wish), most voters who aren't political insiders like you or me will look for "candidates to whom they can personally relate" when voting.

But the difference: it's easier for liberals than conservatives to see that there are human beings besides white male heterosexual Christians. That's why feminism and the civil rights movement and the immigrant rights movement have stronger bases on the left. Contrast that with how Lindsey Graham wants to eliminate birthright citizenship. It's hard not to believe there is some racial, demographic-defending motivation there. Contrast how liberals support gay marriage rights while conservatives project their homophobic insecurities through deliberate misrepresentations of the left-wing position, for example the "liberals want to ban the Bible" mailings in 2004 or the dishonest TV ads about California proposition 8 and public schools in 2008. Conservatives have sold the law-and-order line on illegal immigration so slickly and strategically that you'll see on news site comment sections and hear at the local diner how illegal immigrants leech off welfare and threaten the country far more than supporting the DREAM Act or considering how businesses exploit cheap immigrant labor.

Next time a conservative dismisses your legitimate evidence that race matters in this country, point out that conservative idealism is 100x worse than liberal empathy.
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