Re: Columnists at the New York Times
Mark, thanks for pointing out Rich’s neat little rhetorical trick — accusing Southern politicians of playing identity politics for merely responding to about as explicit an example of identity politics as you’ll find (the now-famous “wise Latina” speech).
This is of course reminiscent of the rhetorical game played over social issues. A leftist can inject themselves into the most significant moral, religious, and cultural questions — such as the definition of marriage, the question of when life begins, or the very concept of “family” — seek dramatic changes from sometimes centuries (even millennia) of common human understanding (not to mention legal precedent), and then — without a trace of irony — accuse anyone who opposes these changes of “divisiveness.” On campus, of course, such “divisiveness” is often punished.
The sad thing about such debating tricks is not that they’re played but that they’re believed by large segments of the population. Millions upon millions of Americans (especially the hives of urban professionals living vertically in our major cities) do sincerely believe that in any significant cultural debate there is the “progressive” side and the “divisive” side.
Of course, that’s really just a way of saying that there should be no debate at all.