Monday, September 10, 2007

Identity politics. Literally.

Interesting post over at Daily Kos arguing that the right's obsession with abortion, homosexuality, and creationism isn't so much because of deeply-held values or religious consistency, as much as it is a way of marking one's identity, of defining one's tribe. Much the same is true of any litmus-test issue, of course... If you're going to be one of us, then you MUST believe X, Y, and Z.

Tribalism in the modern era still depends on its sense of persecution and isolation. Because Christians are the majority, Dominionists must create an enemy to unite them. And so they take an approach opposite to Christ's inclusiveness, peeking through windows and looking for minorities to persecute. The Anti Abortion/Evolution/Homosexuality tribe goes to absurd lengths to prove that it is a persecuted and isolated group that must struggle to protect the safety of its members in a hostile world.

In the absence of real enemies, a tribe will readily create imaginary enemies to unite them, and without concrete evidence of persecution, the tribe must often create an enemy with supernatural powers.
Part of why this resonated so much is that I just recently finished Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, which laid out the degree of tribalism inherent in the authoritarian mind-set, and the way in which identification with the group becomes the most important thing.

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