Celebrating our various racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities has prevented liberalism from “becoming a unifying force capable of governing,” writes Mark Lilla, a Columbia humanities professor, in the New York Times. “Identity liberalism” put Donald Trump in the White House, he argues.
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton “called out to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop,” Lilla writes. Those left out felt excluded.
Schools encourage children to “talk about their individual identities, even before they have them,” he writes.
High school history curriculums “anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country.”
When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.”
Lilla concludes: Teachers should “refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history.”
Lilla’s op-ed is “making white supremacy respectable,” writes Katherine Franke, a law professor who directs Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She compares her colleague to Klansman David Duke.