The plague of identity politics

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with the Hoover Institution, hosted an event with this blunt title: “Identity Politics Is a Threat to Society: Is There Anything We Can Do About It At This Point?” The panel consisted my friends John Fonte and Peter Berkowitz; my hero Heather Mac Donald; our long-time blog nemesis Andrew Sullivan; and Michael Lind, an original thinker whose book about the Vietnam War was the subject of the first post I ever wrote on Power Line, more than 16 years ago.

Only Lind dissented somewhat from the assertion in the title. As for the question, Mac Donald had the best answer, I think — in essence, denounce identity politics in all of its forms and at every turn. I would have added, vote Republican at almost every opportunity.

I’ll see if I can find a video of the event to post. In the meantime, you can read Peter Berkowitz’s excellent article, “Liberal Education as an Antidote to Identity Politics,” which formed the basis of his presentation.

Unfortunately, our colleges and universities no longer offer a liberal education in the traditional sense. Thus, Peter advocates home schooling and charter schools that nurture the acquisition of knowledge and the spirit of free inquiry before college. He also applauds “the expanding network of initiatives, generally supported by conservative philanthropists, that provide undergraduates and recent graduates the liberal education neglected or abused by our colleges and universities.” The focus, he rightly insists, “should be on an education for liberty, beginning with literacy and numeracy and proceeding through study of America and the West to the exploration of other civilizations.”

Identity politics, Peter notes, is not the first assault on the principles and practices of liberal democracy to emanate from our colleges and universities. It is, however, the most deadly.

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