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Ronald Lindsay on How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy and Invigorate Christian Nationalism

Against the New Politics of Identity: How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy―and Invigorate Christian Nationalism (book cover)

In Against the New Politics of Identity, philosopher Ronald A. Lindsay offers a sustained criticism of the far-reaching cultural transformation occurring across much of the West by which individuals are defined primarily by their group identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Driven largely by the political Left, this transformation has led to the wholesale grouping of individuals into oppressed and oppressor classes in both theory and practice. He warns that the push for identity politics on the Left predictably elicits a parallel reaction from the Right, including the Right’s own version of identity politics in the form of Christian nationalism. As Lindsay makes clear, the symbiotic relationship that has formed between these two political poles risks producing even deeper threats to Enlightenment values and Western democracy. If we are to preserve a liberal democracy in which the rights of individuals are respected, he concludes, the dogmas of identity politics must be challenged and refuted. Against the New Politics of Identity offers a principled path for doing so.

Dr. Ronald Lindsay, a philosopher (PhD, Georgetown University) and lawyer (JD, University of Virginia) is the author of The Necessity of Secularism and Future Bioethics. Although his non-fiction works focus on different topics, two threads unite them: Lindsay’s gift for thinking critically about accepted narratives and his strong commitment to individual rights, whether it’s the right to assisted dying, the right to religious freedom, or the right of individuals to be judged on their own merit, as opposed to their group identity. In addition to his books, Lindsay has also written numerous philosophical and legal essays, including the entry on Euthanasia in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics. In his spare time, Lindsay plays baseball—baseball, not softball. The good news is he maintains a batting average near .300; the bad news is his fielding average is not much higher. A native of Boston, Ron Lindsay currently lives in Loudoun County, Virginia with his wife, Debra, where their presence is usually tolerated by their cat. His new book is: Against the New Politics of Identity: How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy and Invigorate Christian Nationalism.

Shermer and Lindsay discuss:

  • Who is worse, the Left or the Right?
  • Critical Race Theory (CRT)
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
  • identity politics: identity or politics?
  • overt racism vs. systemic racism
  • liberalism vs. illiberalism
  • What is progressive? What is woke?
  • What are the true motives of woke progressive leftists?
  • How widespread is the problem of woke ideology?
  • standpoint epistemology
  • equality vs. equity
  • race and class
  • cancel culture on the political Left and Right
  • Christian nationalism and its agenda
  • abortion
  • Why do Blacks make less money, own fewer and lower quality homes, work in less prestigious jobs, hold fewer seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, run fewer Fortune 500 companies, etc.?

Show Notes From the Skeptic article “Systemic Racism—Explained

The article, by Mahzarin R. Banaji, Susan T. Fiske & Douglas S. Massey, appeared in Skeptic 27.3.

Race is baked into the history of the U.S. going back to colonial times and continuing through early independence when slavery was quietly written into the nation’s Constitution. Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution ended slavery and granted due process, equal protection, and voting rights to the formerly enslaved, efforts to combat systemic racism in the U.S. faltered when Reconstruction collapsed in the disputed election of 1876, which triggered the withdrawal of federal troops from the South.

From 1876 to 1900, 90 percent of all African Americans lived in the South and were subject to the dictates of the repressive Jim Crow system; 83 percent lived in poor rural areas, occupying ramshackle dwellings clustered in small settlements in or near the plantations where they worked.

Between 1900 and 1970, millions of African Americans left the rural South in search of better lives in industrializing cities throughout the nation. As a result of this migration, by 1970 nearly half of all African Americans had come to live outside the South, 90 percent in urban areas. It was during this period of Black urbanization that the ghetto emerged as a structural feature of American urbanism, making Black residential segregation into the linchpin of a new system of racial stratification that prevailed throughout the U.S. irrespective of region.

In 1924, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers adopted a code of ethics stating that “a Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood”

Redlining through the 1960s…

By 1970, high levels of Black residential segregation were universal throughout metropolitan America. As of 1970, 61 percent of Black Americans living in US metropolitan areas lived under hypersegregation, a circumstance unique to Americans. Although in theory, segregation should have withered away after the Civil Rights Era, it has not.

In 2010, the average index of Black–White segregation remained high and a third of all Black metropolitan residents continued to live in hypersegregated areas. This reality prevails despite the outlawing of racial discrimination in housing (the 1968 Fair Housing Act) and lending (the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act).

In the early 1960s, more than 60 percent of White Americans agreed that Whites have a right to keep Blacks out of their neighborhoods. By the 1980s the percentage had dropped to 13 percent.

Although overt discrimination in housing and lending has clearly declined in response to legislation, covert discrimination continues. Rental and sales agents today are less likely to respond to emails from people with stereotypically Black names or to reply to phone messages left by speakers who “sound Black.” A recent meta-analysis of 16 experimental housing audit studies and 19 lending analyses conducted since 1970 revealed that sharp racial differentials in the number of units recommended by realtors and inspected by clients have persisted and that racial gaps in loan denial rates and borrowing cost have barely changed in 40 years.

Audit studies, conducted across the social and behavioral sciences, include a subset of resume studies in which researchers send the same resume out to apply for jobs, but change just one item: the candidate’s name is Lisa Smith or Lakisha Smith. Then, they wait to see who gets the callback. The bias is clear: employers avoid “Black-sounding” names.

No other group in the history of the U.S. has ever experienced such intense residential segregation in so many areas and over such a long period of time.

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This episode was released on February 10, 2024.

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