Suzanne Fields

Identity politics is a world of paradox. To liberal women, their conservative sisters are merely men in drag, so affirmative action should never apply to them. The accomplishments black Americans have made in education and the professions are sometimes churlishly discounted as driven by "positive" discrimination.

 Political correctness, the child of identity politics, demands that Indian mascots of sports teams be erased, even though many Indians take considerable pride in the exploits of the Florida State Seminoles, the Fighting Illini, the Atlanta Braves and of course the Washington Redskins, now that they're beating the Cowboys again.

 Paradoxes all. What makes identity politics bad is that it invites generalizations, stereotypes, and projects on others the narrow prejudices of particular groups in pursuit of privilege. Identity politics is intellectually shallow and inevitably runs afoul of the iron law of unintended consequences. By scapegoating certain groups and patronizing others, identity politics sacrifices the individual on the altar of groupthink.

 Harriet Miers, the president's heartthrob, is discounted by conservatives because she's just a sympathetic woman the president found to fill a "woman's seat." There's some truth in that. The president's wife put a little pillow pressure on the president with her public wish that he would choose a woman. Feminists, however, don't want just any woman, however qualified, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen or Edith Jones need not apply. Eleanor Smeal, president of the radical Feminist Majority Foundation, demands a minimum of four women on the Supreme Court: "The era of tokenism is over." This is what happens when sex appeal trumps judicial appeal.

 Not so long ago, women were touted as more feeling, more caring than men, but George W., the "compassionate conservative," followed Bill Clinton, who could feel everybody's pain but the pain of national humiliation he often inflicted on everybody else. Today the notion that we ought to have a woman's chair, seat or office no longer has so much to do with her female sensibility. Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, says he likes Harriet Miers because she comes with "real life experience." (As compared to what?)

 When the president introduced Miss Miers, he gave several examples as to how she was "the first woman" to achieve this and do that, but he insisted that she was nevertheless the best person for the job no matter what her sex. Can anyone believe that if Harriet Miers was Harry Miers he would have been nominated?


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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