Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil, Part II: The Case for the Reverend Jeremiah Wright

The only way to make this case is in the geekiest possible manner.

Let A represent the existence of the Reverend.
Let p represent the probability of serious bodily harm to a white person walking in the streets of South Chicago for one hour.

If we look at matters purely from the point-of-view of white America, the basic problem black America presents is not politicization. It's lumpenization. If Reverend Wright takes a gangbanger and makes him a church-going married guy who thinks the US government planned AIDS, white America is better off. (Black America is too, of course, but I'm trying to be hard headed here.)

I get off the "conservative" bus whenever I hear complaints about identity politics. There just isn't any other kind of politics. If an issue of public policy does not seriously intersect with identity, then it isn't a political issue. If there is any merit to democracy at all, it is that it provides a framework in which identity groups can be mobilized and then compromise.

(It isn't directly relevant to this post, but where I get off the "progressive" bus is when I hear complaints about how heinous it is that groups they are opposed to engage in identity politics. Dude, if the Cree can do it, then the white Baptists can do it.)

Identity politics can either be responsible or irresponsible. There is always a bit of a dilemma here, of course. If an identity politician is too responsible, then he or she may no longer be able to represent and mobilize the base. If an identity politician isn't responsible enough, then he or she won't be able to get concessions for said base.

What is the art of statecraft? Finding ways to make the incentives to be responsible better than the incentives to be irresponsible.

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