Rhetorical Madness

Christopher Hitchens’ describes understanding that with the emergence of identity politics in the 60’s a ‘truly Bad Idea had entered the discourse’. Sam Harris supports the condemnation arguing that ‘the nature of any argument is that its validity doesn’t depend on who you are… a person’s identity and life experience often aren’t relevant when talking about facts’. In effect the casual identity politics argument can very often be the oratorical equivalent of the water bomb in rock, paper, scissors because the moment identity is asserted as a legitimate argument their opponent, if not of that identity, is expected to either be silenced or respectful given the absence of the subject’s identity. Taken seriously this logic suffocates the ability to seriously entertain and interrogate ideas. 

Douglas Murray describes how much of the desire of social justice campaigners ‘is not to heal but to divide, not to placate but to inflame, not to dampen but to burn’. Obama shares this conviction describing the pitfalls of wokeness saying ‘if all your doing is casting stones you’re probably not gonna get that far’. In conjunction with undermining people’s logic and reasoning through their lack of identity is an attempt from those that willingly recognise their lack of identity and seek to contribute nothing towards an argument aside from protecting the given identity claim. 

This rhetorical madness of weaponizing identity serves to undermine reasoning and destroy freedom of speech. If we are not able to flexibly wield language then we arrest the development of imagination and creativity.