The higher skepticism

Wisdom from Michael Shermer:

Identity politics warriors-if you want people to stop judging individuals as members of a group then stop identifying people by their group!

Who knew it was that easy?! If I don’t want people to judge me as a woman, all I have to do is stop identifying women as women.

Wait, what? What does that even mean? Stop using the word “women” at all? Like Planned Parenthood and the National  Network of Abortion Funds? But if I did that, how would it make other people stop judging women as women?

And if that’s Shermer’s belief and practice, then why did he say “It’s more of a guy thing”?

If it’s his belief and practice, why did he start that tweet with “Identity politics warriors”? He’s certainly “identifying people as a group” there, so how can he claim that ceasing to identify people by their group will cause [all] people to stop judging individuals as members of a group? Suppose all women stopped identifying women as members of the group “women” – that wouldn’t stop Michael Shermer from continuing to do so, and it wouldn’t stop all the other men either. So what can he mean?

I suppose we can puzzle out what he means, if we don’t mind ignoring what he actually said for the sake of extracting some sort of reasonable claim from it. I suppose he means something like don’t obsess endlessly over your group membership, don’t constantly remind the rest of the world of your group membership, don’t ask people to stop judging you in ways you don’t want to be judged. Something like that.

Well, anything can be overdone. It’s the hot thing this week to complain about “identity politics,” and identity politics is for sure one of those things that can be overdone. But it’s simpleminded (to put it kindly) to just dismiss the whole thing, and its worse than simpleminded for people whose identities or group memberships aren’t generally considered a mistake to just dismiss the whole thing. Michael Shermer is male, and white, and prosperous, so it’s not really a great look for him to be dismissing the rabble because we don’t like being judged as rabble.

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