David French has some useful comments on l’affaire Ilhan.
What is going on? Why are we seeing so many prominent voices rally to Omar’s side? This is how intersectionality works. Essentially, the pattern goes like this. Under intersectionality theories, your identity grants you credibility, your experience grants you authority, and the responsibility then of your progressive friends is to act as your allies.
Omar’s identity — as a woman of color, as a Muslim, as a refugee — means that she speaks with great experiential authority. She comes to the public square (as Tlaib and Clyburn indicate) from a position of personal pain and direct experience with marginalization and oppression. Allyship then means that it’s important to elevate her voice and to protect her credibility. To treat her as the GOP (finally) treated Steve King is unthinkable. Direct rebuke (much less direct action, such as stripping her of her committee assignments) is interpreted as an attack not on her ideas but on her very identity
. . . identity isn’t a substitute for credibility or authority or morality . . .
Our default tendency toward universalism–something blazingly apparent on the left but present on the right as well–prompts us to try to make the inexplicable explicable, and the incommensurable commensurable. Thus French challenges the idea that Omar’s experiential authority can be moral in its own right.
The particularism of the colonial era bred its own kind of bias and ethnocentrism. Our universalistic era breeds another, one in which political and cultural differences are discounted if they fail a test of morality that we devise and then blindly promote.
I don’t think there is an easy answer to this conundrum. It might be enough to reflect on which class of error you seem to be making, and to make adjustments from there.
To me l’affaire Ilhan is a good example of overdoing the diversity thing. Too many, too much cultural distance, too many collisions on fundamentals, too little assimilation glue. That argument is, I suspect, not part of the progressive vocabulary. All the more reason to suspect an imbalance on just that dimension. When yin is dismissed out of hand, or not even brought to mind, that’s fairly good evidence that yang is on a rampage.