Today I saw another article decrying identity politics. I’ll confess, I run hot and cold on this. As a good 1960s hold-over, I have the tendency to privilege identity politics…whether based on race, class, gender, or what have you. Yet, I will also admit to feeling some concern about it. As a weapon it is, shall we say? Broad-bore, and can far too easily wound the innocent bystander—or, if not entirely innocent, then at least someone who was potentially an ally, but who, once wounded, might become actively hostile.

Or, to put it another way, I wonder if these days political realities don’t dictate a less confrontational strategy for the Left. Perhaps, somehow, the future is not in-your-face, but in the calm explanation of one’s concerns, and the exploration of how peace and justice will, after all, prove as beneficial to the bystander as to the person liberated.

Or, to put it a third way, I wonder if the task of the Left is not just to free the prisoner but also to show the guard why he, too, is in chains.




Michael Jay Tucker is the “sort of volunteer editor” of LR Net. He is also a writer and journalist who has published material on topics ranging from the Jazz Age to computers. (Among his small claims to fame is that he interviewed Steve Jobs just after that talented if complicated man got kicked out of Apple, and just before the company’s Board came begging him to come back.)

Tucker’s most recent book is Padre: To The Island, a meditation on life and death based on the passing of his own parents.

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