Johns Hopkins professor: Identity politics—and why I think it spells trouble | Yascha Mounk

From Big Think.

Is “identity synthesis” the remedy for racial injustice? This political scientist says no.

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Yascha Mounk, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and host of “The Good Fight” podcast, explains how identity synthesis – an ideology based on treating people differently depending on their race, gender, or sexual orientation – can be quite harmful to society. He uses the example of racially segregated classrooms, claiming that it is human tendency to inherently side with someone in your “group” before you side with someone from another.

Mounk argues that identity synthesis will only further divide us, as it goes directly against the ideologies of Black American thinkers like Fredrick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr, who fought avidly for equality in the United States.

By following this identity-first ideology, we may be reversing the work done by these social rights activists. Instead, we should lean further into their legacy of advocating for universal principles, where individuals are judged not by the categories they belong to but by their character and actions.

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About Yascha Mounk:

Yascha Mounk is a writer and academic known for his work on the crisis of democracy and the defense of philosophically liberal values.

Born in Germany to Polish parents, Yascha received his BA in History from Trinity College Cambridge and his PhD in Government from Harvard University. He is a Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, where he holds appointments in both the School of Advanced International Studies and the SNF Agora Institute. Yascha is also a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Moynihan Public Fellow at City College. He is the Founder of Persuasion, the host of The Good Fight podcast, and serves as a publisher (Herausgeber) at Die Zeit.

Yascha has written five books: Stranger in My Own Country – A Jewish Family in Modern Germany, a memoir about Germany’s fraught attempts to deal with its past; The Age of Responsibility – Luck, Choice and the Welfare State, which argues that a growing obsession with the concept of individual responsibility has transformed western welfare states; The People versus Democracy – Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, which explains the causes of the populist rise and investigates how to renew liberal democracy; and The Great Experiment – Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure, which argues that anybody who seeks to help ethnically and religiously diverse democracies thrive has reason to embrace a more ambitious vision for their future than is now fashionable; and his latest, The Identity Trap – A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time, which tells the story of how a new set of ideas about race, gender and sexual orientation came to be extremely influential in mainstream institutions, and why it would be a mistake to give up on a more universalist humanism. Next to his work for The Atlantic, Yascha also occasionally writes for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs. He is also a regular contributor to major international publications including Die Zeit, La Repubblica, El País, l’Express and Folha de São Paolo, among others.