Identity Politics: Trying to Have it Both Ways?
Cathleen Kaveny January 13, 2009 - 10:36am
Here's my question for Rob Vischer:If vocal, powerful, and authoritative members of a religious group repeatedly and forcefully claim in the public square that one is a bad member of that group (e.g., a bad Catholic or a bad Mormon) if one does not vote a particular way (e.g., in favor of Prop. 8 --or against Obama), can one really blame their political opponents for reacting against the religious group as such if the religious group wins?If you use identity politics in your arguments in the public square ("Real Mormons [Catholics] will vote for or against X"] , don't you have to expect that your political opponents will turn them against you?Rob's proposal--and I haven't read the whole thing, because the website tells me that I'm not a subscriber-- seems to me something like the "Don't hit a girl" rule --which I heartily endorse in its original form, but not when extended to politics. When I was growing up, boys were told, "Don't ever hit a girl --even if she hits you first." So with apologies to Holmes, the "bad girl" theory of the rule was that girls could hit, and yet not be hit. (I hasten to add that I never took advantage of this theory.)Is the bottom line here that religious groups can invoke identity politics to make their case, but their opponents cannot invoke such politics to oppose that case?
About the Author
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.