Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley recently stoked the flames of identity politics, and riled a number of her more moderate Democratic brethren, with a jaw-dropper of a proclamation:

If you’re not prepared to come to that table and represent that voice, don’t come, because we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. If you’re worried about being marginalized and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.

Much digital ink has already been spilled over the internecine fights in the Party, and over the toxicity and divisiveness of this line of thinking. I want to look at it tactically, because there’s much insight into both aspirations and concerns to be found therein.

At first, we might be tempted to parallel this with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” shtick, which is an appeal-to-authority gambit. A statement of that sort implies a perspective that a non-Latina doesn’t have, and therefore implies more weight to opinions than non-Latinas have, especially, we might presume, on matters germane to latino identities and politics. This is a cheap but common debating tactic, the equivalent of telling someone “you can’t have an opinion as good as mine because I am something you are not.” It un-levels a playing field, and it’s intended to. It simultaneously gives a leg up to the person making the assertion and cordons off certain topics from people not of that identity group.

We can take note of a less commonly-known fallacy similar to the Appeal to Authority and its applicable offspring, the Appeal to False Authority: The Appeal to Identity. As in, if you are a member of Identity Group X, your opinions on all matters X are more valid than non-members. And, taken to an extreme that’s too common: if you are not a member of Identity Group X, you’re often not even allowed to have an opinion on matters X.

Pressley’s statement goes much farther, though, and in a much more sinister direction. She doesn’t simply engage in appeal-to-identity in her “brown voice,” “black voice,” “Muslim voice,” “queer voice.” She engages in the standard leftist-politics vilification of heretics and apostates, the people of Identity Group X who don’t hold the opinions and views that Identity Group X is expected to hold. We’ve seen how the Left has treated black conservatives for having the temerity to go off-book, sometimes going as far as viciously racist insults. Pressley implies that identity group members within the Party need to stick to the ‘correct’ opinions of their groups. A “black voice” is one that puts forth the views on black politics that it is expected to, and if a “black face” doesn’t spout the proper rhetoric, there’s no room in her Democratic party for that face.

Why would they take such a line of thinking? Why alienate members of the identity groups that they traditionally consider “theirs,” by telling everyone that they have to conform? Perhaps they fear that their political and policy failures of the past half century might be breeding discontent and prompting defections. Perhaps they worry that Trump might peel off some blacks, women, and latinos come the next election. Or, perhaps they fear that they can’t sell their agenda to those groups solely on its merits, and instead need to bully it in.

This isn’t “I’m wiser because I am X.” This has nothing to do with individual wisdom. Individual wisdom that runs contrary to the ordained narrative is verboten.

This is totalitarian thuggery. “Represent that voice” is Orwellian ‘think and speak the words we’ve chosen, or be punished/exiled.’ This is the “Party” of Red China and the Soviet Union, reinforced with and enforced via identity politics. It is a conscious tactic, meant to impose a socialistic system upon the nation, and if it’s necessary for them to expel people of color who don’t speak the right words, they’ve already signaled they’re totally cool with that.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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