In the new political climate we now inhabit, [David[ Duke and [Mark] Lilla were contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown. Both men are underwriting the whitening of American nationalism, and the re-centering of white lives as lives that matter most in the U.S. Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable. Again.Here's Lilla's piece, which I take to argue that identity politics isn't really working out well for Democrats and they ought to rethink it. I'd have thought this was a bit of advice obviously intended to help the Democratic Party win elections, and thus less likely to come in for a charge of "white supremacy" than if it were aimed at helping the Republican Party. Apparently not, but see what you think. Maybe the KKK aspect of his piece is eluding my eye.
Mark Lilla and I both teach at Columbia University, and I acknowledge that this is a harsh indictment of my colleague. But these are harsh times.
If this is where people's heads are, this is going to be a rough little while.
My sense is that it's not going to work, though. The election of Donald Trump was a very close-run thing, and I don't know that he has a lot of deep support as a person. But while the election of Trump was narrow, the rejection of political correctness as an approach to life was broad and deep. The fact that Trump got through the Republican primary shows that Republicans are done with it. The fact that he was taken seriously as a major party candidate in the general shows that the American people are, mostly, done with it.
Hillary Clinton wondered aloud why she wasn't ahead by 50 points, given all the things Trump said and did. It was a good question. The only workable answer lies in collapsing the assumption that violating PC norms was fatal.
That's going to give us a very different public discourse. We'll see how it improves, and whether it also harms, public life. These attempts to stand the PC norms back up, though, isn't going to work. A Trump administration is going to be a continuing bulldozer to such norms. Every day there will be a new lesson in how they don't apply any more.
UPDATE: Bernie Sanders asks about going "beyond identity politics." He should realize how offensive this is, says Vox.