Crenshaw on Lilla

Unsurprisingly, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw has some important things to say about Mark Lille’s criticism of “identity politics”.

AS THE LIBERAL MIND STRUGGLES to regain its bearings in the wake of the catastrophic election of Donald Trump, the racial apologia that has long rested at the heart of elite liberalism has re-emerged as a cautionary tale about the wages of too much racial justice. Far from calling for the mobilization of every resource to resist the breathtaking resurgence of white nationalism, some self-declared liberals have called for the retirement of racial equity discourse in favor of a universalism that denies the continuing salience of racial power in America.

The Rorschach diagnosis of liberalism’s psychosis comes through most strongly in liberals’ reflexive response to the monstrous resurrection of lynch-mob mentality and its enablement in the White House. While scenes of white supremacy’s galloping return strike terror in the very soul of America’s dispossessed, the analysis that’s gained greatest currency among conflicted white liberals calls to mind D.W. Griffith’s infamous portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan leaders as the heroic vindicators of a humiliated white identity.

Surprisingly, this terrifying resurgence of white anger is not the chief object of liberal outrage; rather, we are told that what’s really precipitated today’s white-supremacist putsch are the excesses of identity politics. By the lights of today’s soothsayers, the beast has been agitated by the telling of tales about its own bloody reign.

Read on.

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