“No one can be given credit for speaking from genuine moral or political conviction anymore; everyone can be dismissed or derided with a nod to their personal background. This may be the logical end of identity politics, where ultimately we’re each locked inside whatever little box we check, tiny caucuses of one, and common ground is impossible.”
—-Joan Walsh in Salon, bemoaning the accelerating tendency in public debate to discredit all beliefs, assertions and opinions, no matter how sincere or well-supported, as the product of bias and narrow self-interest.
Her comment could not be better timed, from my point of view. How tired I am of having readers demonstrate the trend Walsh describes by reflexively attributing every post I write as being proof of bias and a pre-existing agenda. If I criticize an atheist, I am a religious zealot; if I find fault with Obama, I must be a racist; if I point out that a production of “The Mikado” doesn’t really call for Sarah Palin to be beheaded, I’m a Left-winger. The problem is, unfortunately, that many prominent positions in the public square and blogosphere are driven by agendas and biases. It is so common that the concepts of independent judgement, an open mind and objectivity seem quaint and unrealistic.
I don’t know how to combat the problem, which is as serious as Walsh suggests. Recognizing it is a start.