The Corner

Multiculturalism as Liberalism

Derb – There’s much to comment on there, but I will restrict myself to one point as Lowry is waiting for a piece from me.

I suppose you can identify some things on the left and make your point on about an explosion of “everyone is the same” thinking. But truth be told, I generally see the exact opposite phenomena. Identity politics is deeply, deeply reactionary and illiberal. It is on the left where were hear the most about the iron cage of identity. Many strands of feminism espouse female essentialism. It is on the left, not the right, where we hear the most about the “permanence of race.” Quotas aren’t premised on the idea that everyone is the same, they’re premised on the idea that we are all different and that we need exposure to the “black perspective,” “the Hispanic perspective,” the “female perspective” etc. The rage against dead white males is an identity politics argument, and a deeply illiberal one. It is on the left that we hear about “white logic” — as if such a thing exists. De Maistre would have aligned himself with this view (as I wrote

here and elsewhere).

I think conservatives get into a lot of trouble when they over-read the significance — real or potential — of group differences. Even if such differences are profound, a decent conservative in the American tradition should still advance a colorblind state, colorblind laws, and colorblind standards. That’s why I’ve never found the science about group differences to be as relevant as some do. I think it’s interesting, but I can’t imagine a scenario that would cause me to change my mind about the proper orientation of the state. We should take people as individuals, not representatives of groups. Period. That’s what it means to be equal in the eyes of the law.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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