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On the politics of identity – The Princetonian – The Daily Princetonian

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LGBTQ+ communities inhabit the continually shifting terrain of “identity politics” — the notion that affiliating with an identity group provides an adequate political and social agenda — which, at the moment, is historically under scrutiny from both the left and the right. To align your politics and values with an aspect of your identity — be it gender, sexuality, race, class or ability — seems to some narrow and exclusive. To others, it’s a necessary affirmation of marginalized people in the face of hegemonic power, a portal into a broader social analysis.

LGBTQ+ identity remains a high-stakes topic in an increasingly bitter and divided American public sphere. On the right, some politicians turn to gender and sexuality to inspire moral panics convenient for stacking elections. On the left, some activists close ranks around identity, drawing strict boundaries around, for example, who has the right and authority to teach or speak to certain subjects. In my field of theater and performance studies, for example, artists and critics debate who can embody or write about certain life experiences and stories.

Both positions harden identity into a knowable, singular essence, and obstruct the curiosity, respect, and dialogue necessary for any minoritarian subject to achieve full equality. Our goal as critical thinkers and citizens should be to complicate this impasse and consider the politics of identity from more nuanced, fluid, and generative perspectives. 

In 1977, I came out as a lesbian feminist. Publicly asserting my sexuality (along with, for me, a politic that framed it), was cataclysmic then, as it meant being something of an outlaw, even for a white, middle-class, college-educated young woman like me. This was before assimilation was even a choice — decades before same-sex marriage was legalized, before queer people could more easily become parents, and before anti-discrimination housing laws were passed.

American culture has changed dramatically in the years since. I was in college when I came out; now, kids in high school and younger declare their gender and sexual identities, and find possibility in stating them, publicly and privately, more fluidly. This opportunity, though, may now depend on the state in which they live. For instance, recently passed Florida legislation, colloquially known as “Don’t Say Gay,” prohibits teachers in grades K-3 from talking to students about gender identity or sexuality. Legislation pending or passed in other states refuses medical care to transgender young people and criminalizes parents and doctors who would support their gender transitions or explorations.

“Coming out,” in fact, is never an endpoint, even now. For me, this declaration requires perpetual reiteration: at appointments with a new doctor, at meetings with new colleagues or friends, and certainly every time someone inquires after my “husband.” These moments require me to assert my difference from the heterosexual norm, so that this aspect of my identity can, when it’s relevant, be fully present.

“When it’s relevant,” of course, becomes the question. How central is a minoritarian identity to your life? For people whose gender, sexuality, and other identity vectors center them in political and cultural representation, it can be difficult to imagine how it feels to be marginalized. How do we shape ourselves and our choices without stories and images that let us see and imagine multiple ways of being in the world? The presumption of heterosexuality (or that my sexual identity aligns with the majority) erases the specifics of my life and my values as a lesbian, just as the presumption of Christianity erases my difference as a Jew.

Identity politics are tied to political and cultural representation. Which identities does political representation enfranchise? Which communities and ways of life does cultural representation — theater, film, television, media — engage or erase? My own cultural criticism argues for the importance and world-remaking vitality of representation of women, LGBTQ+ artists, and artists of color in a cultural mainstream that, when I started as a critic in the late 70s, rarely acknowledged their existence. My scholarship aligned with what was then a plank of lesbian and gay identity politics. The artists about whom I wrote — Holly Hughes, Peggy Shaw, Tim Miller, Carmelita Tropicana — performed from bodies deeply and productively marked by their own exclusion from dominant culture.

Writing about these artists, I urged spectators to witness the pleasure and power of deviating from a white, male, heterosexual cultural norm. I argued that they exemplified how to be socially different while claiming the right to be politically equal. But over the years, as LGBTQ+ artists and people in the U.S. gained cultural and political ground, I began to loosen my own fierce personal and professional commitments to identity politics. The “calling cards” of identity, in which people introduced a thought or an idea by saying, “As a [fill in the blank: white, woman, lesbian, Jewish person, etc.], I . . .” now seemed parsed, and the presumption of knowingness these cards laid out too limiting and finite.

Those calling cards also didn’t work when my identities intersected. Decades ago, I traveled with several colleagues to an area of the country in which as a Jew and a lesbian, I didn’t quite feel safe. One of my colleagues was Jewish and straight; one was a lesbian and not Jewish. As we boarded a city bus one day, my friends sat one behind the other, each with a space beside them for me. I was frozen with indecision and responsibility; in a social context in which they were both vulnerable because of their visible otherness, should I sit with the lesbian or the Jew? Where we put our bodies matters, as we literally and metaphorically form and reform necessarily shifting alliances.

Identity politics debates persist and repeat. For instance, once lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, and transgender characters began appearing regularly in plays, on television, and in film, critics and activists discussed which actors could best portray them. Could a straight actor play a gay character? Some activists insisted gay people could more authentically portray gay characters. More recently, debates about whether only transgender people should play trans characters repeat similar themes or, for that matter, whether only Jewish actors should play Jewish characters.

In historical moments when a minority is politically and culturally invisible, representation means putting bodies on view that are intimately carved with the particulars of experience. At these times, the politics of identity require that minority subjects tell their own stories.

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But eventually, as cultural and political representation proliferates, an artistic practice of imagination and creativity for artists and audiences might be just the scene on which to expand our identity claims. Actors train to think and feel their way into the experience of another, of a character who is not themselves, of a life about which they might educate themselves and with which they might empathize, but which is not their own. Isn’t this the hopeful power of the arts, to encourage us to think, feel, and see differently, with love and curiosity, respect and regard?

The history of LGBTQ+ political representation reminds us that for every step forward, two steps beckon on which to slide back toward homogeneous hegemony. Progress toward equality is never linear but always requires new strategies, new arguments, and new claims to public and cultural visibility.

Perhaps what we need most is simply more: to produce more representations of complexity, variety, and nuance across our multiple, ever morphing identities. We need representations that encourage surprising and important allegiances and multiple belongings, cultural and political representations that can’t wholly be owned but that many can try to engage, by which they can hope to be moved and touched. We need to learn complicated ways of speaking about identity and experience — in the arts, in politics, in life — and how they push us forward into a more equitable future.

Jill Dolan is Dean of the College at Princeton University, Annan Professor in English, and a professor of theater studies in the Lewis Center for the Arts.

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With debates over, Conservative leadership candidate turns to final membership push

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OTTAWA — Now that the second official debate of the race is out of the way, Conservative leadership hopefuls will turn their attention to signing up as many supporters as they can before a fast-approaching deadline.

The party’s leadership election organizing committee says it is already breaking records for how many new members candidates have drawn in ahead of the June 3 cutoff date for new members being able to vote.As of last week, officials were bracing for a voting base of more than 400,000 members by the deadline.

In comparison, the party had nearly 270,000 members signed up to vote in its 2020 leadership contest.

The six candidates vying to replace former leader Erin O’Toole met on stage Wednesday for a French-language debate in Laval, Que. — a province where the Conservative Party of Canada has never won more than a dozen seats.

A rowdy crowd of several hundred booed and cheered throughout the night as candidates took turns lacing into each other’s records, including on controversial pieces of Quebec legislation.

Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, a perceived front-runner in the race who has been drawing large crowds at rallies across Canada, repeatedly stressed his opposition to the Quebec secularism law known as Bill 21, which prohibits certain public servants in positions of power from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Ontario mayor Patrick Brown — considered his main rivals — both accused Poilievre of not clearly stating his position on the law when speaking to Quebecers, which he denied.

Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis, as well as Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber, are also vying to be leader.

Grassroots Conservatives are looking for leadership candidates who can draw many new faces into the party, including in Quebec where membership numbers are low.

Under new rules adopted last year, a riding must have at least 100 members in order for candidates to nab the full amount of points available to them in the ranked-ballot system used to determine a winner.

A winner is chosen when a candidate earns more than 50 per cent of the votes. In the event they don’t, whoever earns the fewest number of votes nationally is dropped from the ballot and the votes they received are redistributed to whichever candidate was marked as their second choice.

Speaking to reporters following Wednesday’s debate, which saw Charest and Brown repeatedly attack Poilievre but not one another, Charest said Brown should not be underestimated in the race.

Entering as the mayor of Brampton, Ont., Brown had a reputation in Tory circles for his ability to organize from his time as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives.

He has spent the race criss-crossing the country, meeting with different immigrant and ethnic communities, encouraging them to take out a membership in the party to change Canada’s conservative movement.

Among those he’s focused his attention on are people from the Tamil, Chinese, Sikh, Nepalese, Filipino and Muslim communities.

Brown promises them a better seat at the political table and pledges to end the lottery system to make family reunification easier. He has also spent the last few weeks equating Poilievre’s name with two of the world’s most controversial right-wing leaders — former U.S. president Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, the far-right French politician who recently failed to win a general election.

“The guy I’m running against is trying to replicate what you’d call the Trump version of conservatism or the Le Pen version of conservatism,” Brown told Muslim community members in Surrey, B.C., last week.

In another recent address to a Muslim gathering in Burnaby, B.C., Brown took aim at the crowds Poilievre has been attracting.

“Sort of looks like a Trump rally,” he said, before criticizing the lack of racial diversity.

Brown made similar remarks during Wednesday’s debate when he accused Poilievre of trying to court the support of people akin to Pat King, a leading voice of the Ottawa convoy protest who has also espoused the so-called white replacement conspiracy theory.

Poilievre has denounced King’s remarks.

After Quebec, Poilievre was set to travel to New Brunswick, followed by Thunder Bay, Ont., Winnipeg and Saskatoon. He will bring his campaign message of “freedom” from everything from the cost of living to COVID-19 public-health restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Politics

Your Promises Are empty and Similar

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“Your promises give us such a thrill,
but they won’t pay our bills,
We want money, that’s what we want(&Need).

The Political Parties in Ontario are trying to bribe us all with our own money. Election Madness, with the NDP promising should they be elected to form the next government, they would set a weekly price cap on the price of gasoline. The Conservatives have promised to temporarily cut the gas tax starting in July. Liberal Steven Del Duca says price caps do not work, while the NDP claims tax cuts do not prevent Energy Corporations from raising their prices.

The Liberal’s platform plank regarding Transit points to a buck-a-dollar ride. The NDP is calling for free transit (possibly in certain regions).

The Doctor shortage is easily solved, so The NDP claim, by hiring 300+ more doctors and thousands of nurses. Their pay will have to be very high in order to attract professional medical talent to Ontario. Medical Professionals have moved to The USA, receiving salaries and enticements many of our current medical pros could only dream of.

So we have political leaders promising billions of dollars to attract our attention and hopefully our vote. Where this money is coming from is usually not discussed. Real numbers are never presented. We have experienced massive spending these past three years, and the international and domestic lenders are demanding to be repaid, yet these promises continue. Not one Political Leader has the courage to tell us the truth, believing we “cannot handle the truth”, but that we would rather sit in the glow of imaginary promises that one only hears during an election.

A powerHouse Premier with a broad array of accomplishments, a Liberal Leader trying to gain a few seats and save His leadership status, a NDP Leader whose very political life is under review(She does not win, She’s gone), a Green Party Leader also seeking a few more seats. That is their political state presently. We are waiting for certain tax increases to come. Someone has to pay for these political visions of future circumstances. The bills and invoices are in the mail, and will certainly arrive this July.

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers”.(N.K)

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Opinion: The paranoid style in Conservative politics has deep roots – The Globe and Mail

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Here are some of the things certain candidates for Conservative leader think, or want Conservative voters to think, threaten Canada and Canadians.

Candidate Pierre Poilievre warns his followers that the government of Canada “has been spying on you everywhere. They’ve been following you to the pharmacy, to your family visits, even to your beer runs.”

The government hasn’t been doing anything of the kind, of course: A private company prepared a report to the Public Health Agency of Canada on population movements during the pandemic, using anonymous, aggregated cellphone data. The data allow researchers to count how many people visited a pharmacy or a beer store, not which people did; still less are individuals followed from place to place.

But Mr. Poilievre knows his followers don’t know this, and is quite content to mislead them. Just as he is when he claims he opposes allowing the Bank of Canada to issue a digital version of the dollar because the government would use the data generated thereby to “crack down” on its “political enemies.”

The point isn’t that such data couldn’t be misused in this way. The point is that Mr. Poilievre asserts, without evidence, that it is happening now, and assumes, without evidence, that worse will happen in the future – not as a possibility to be guarded against, but as an inevitability. This is the very definition of fear-mongering. Or, indeed, conspiracy theory. It encourages not prudent skepticism of government’s capacity, but baseless paranoia about government intentions.

But this is statesmanship itself next to the fears he and others have been spreading about the World Economic Forum, which sponsors an annual gathering of business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that is the grand obsession of conspiracy theorists everywhere.

Mr. Poilievre hasn’t come right out and said what he thinks the WEF is up to (unlike former Conservative leadership candidate Derek Sloan, now the leader of the Ontario Party, who earlier this month accused the organization’s leaders of plotting to put microchips in “our bodies and our heads”), but he has made a point of saying that he will ban any member of his cabinet from attending its meetings – though several members of Stephen Harper’s cabinet did, including Mr. Harper himself.

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Then there’s candidate Leslyn Lewis, whose particular fear is the World Health Organization, or more precisely a package of amendments to its International Health Regulations put forward earlier this year by the United States. The amendments seem chiefly aimed at preventing the sort of information vacuum that hampered efforts to contain the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak, notably stemming from China’s refusal to level with the world about what it had on its hands – but also abetted by the WHO’s own credulousness.

Thus, a critical amendment would require the WHO, should it find there is a public-health emergency “of international concern,” and having first offered assistance to the affected country, to share information with other countries about it, even if the first country objects. (Until now it had been left to the WHO’s discretion.) In conspiracy circles this has been cooked up into an open-ended power for the WHO to force countries into lockdown, take over their health care systems, even, in Ms. Lewis’s formulation, suspend their constitutions.

Where does one begin? The WHO does not have the power to dictate policies to member states. No country would ever agree to give it that power, let alone all 194 member states at once. And of all those countries, the least likely to agree to any such transfer of national sovereignty, let alone propose it, is the United States: the country that, for example, refuses to this day to participate in the International Criminal Court. The only way it could be done even in theory would be by passing the necessary enabling legislation through each country’s legislature, not by simply ratifying an amendment to a regulation.

We’ve been this way before. Remember the Global Compact for Migration? That anodyne collection of best-efforts promises of international co-operation in dealing with the world’s refugees was the subject of an earlier Conservative panic attack. Supposedly we would be permanently surrendering control of our borders to United Nations bureaucrats. It hasn’t happened, because that’s not actually how the world works.

Neither did Motion 103, a non-binding resolution of the House directing that a committee hold hearings on Islamophobia, lead to a ban on criticism of Islam, as still another Conservative fear campaign had claimed. Probably some of its proponents understood this at the time, but lots of their supporters didn’t.

And so it continues. Vaccine mandates become “vaccine vendettas.” Carbon pricing is equated with Chinese-style “social credit” scores. The Bank of Canada’s purchases of government bonds in the middle of the sharpest economic contraction since the Great Depression are depicted as if they were directly bankrolling the Liberal Party.

This cynical act is sometimes dressed up as “sticking up for the little guy” or “taking on the elites.” It is not. It is exploitation, pure and simple, shaking down the gullible for money and votes. It’s a con as old as politics. Before Mr. Poilievre can promise his audience to “give you back control over your lives,” he has to first persuade them that control has been taken away from them – and that he alone has the power to give it back. Or rather, that they should give him that power.

Populism has deep roots in the Conservative Party, at least since John Diefenbaker gathered the disparate populist movements that had sprung up in the West under the Progressive Conservative banner. As the party of the “outs,” those who for one reason or another were excluded from the Liberal power consensus, it has always tended to attract its share of cranks – not just populists but crackpots.

What’s different today? Three things. One, the targets of populist wrath are increasingly external to Canada: bodies like the WEF or the WHO, whose remoteness from any actual role in controlling our lives only makes them seem more darkly potent, to those primed to believe it.

Two, the “outs” no longer simply reject a particular political narrative, but increasingly science, and reason, and knowledge: the anti-expertise, anti-authority rages of people who have been “doing their own research.”

And three, the crackpopulists used to be consigned to the party’s margins. Now they are contending to lead it.

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