Who are we as a people? I can’t remember a time in my life when we more badly needed an answer to that question.
Rediscovering our American identity begins with understanding who we are as individuals. According to some, we are each defined by the characteristics that we inherited on the day we were born. For example, I am a man, not a woman. I am brown, not white. I am straight, not gay. For proponents of this view, we are each defined by the innate and immutable, by the visible and superficial.
This is essentialism — the idea that the characteristics …
This article appears as “The Plural Individual” in the November 16, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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