The Call of the Tribe
The role of identity in our politics and our lives
We are all familiar with what I will call the “identity reflex.” We all hear the call of some tribe or another. We humans are a variegated lot—differing by race, ethnicity, cultural heritage, religion, and political and sexual orientation. This is, of course, as it should be. Diversity is a good thing—really.
Still, there are times when the call of the tribe just might be a siren’s call and when an excessive focus on “identity” could lead one badly astray. What is more, I firmly believe that now is just such a time.
At the close of what by all accounts has been a most extraordinary national political campaign—one in which questions of identity have played a huge role—I believe it is important to at least raise (if not answer!), in a gentle and nonpartisan way, the question of what role “identity” ought to play in our politics and in our lives.
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I usually shy away from such questions, feeling inadequate to respond. But I like how real this is, how a revelation of a weakness made the difference.