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The Authority of the Sacred Victim: Why Our Identity Politics Are So Contentious

  • Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall (map)

Thursday, November 21
Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall

On Thursday, November 21, Dr. Molly Brigid McGrath will present a lecture with the title, “The Authority of the Sacred Victim: Why Our Identity Politics Are So Contentious.” The Tocqueville Forum will host the event; the Saint Benedict Institute is a co-sponsor.

There is something sacred about suffering. This helps to explain the rise and intensity of our current fascination with "identity politics." One way we can understand “identity politics” is by noticing the way people talk and the roles they are given when discussing oppressed groups. People in these groups are forced to symbolize their demographic categories, and members of oppressed categories are granted a special status rooted in the sacredness of their groups.  Thus, identity within certain groups gives one a sacred status while those outside are considered profane and even evil if they do not render proper homage to those within.

Understanding the sacred character of the victim in our current identity politics will help us address a number of confusing phenomena in our culture: Why was groundbreaking lesbian tennis champ Martina Navratilova booted by an LGBT athletics group? Why did Jussie Smollett want people to think he’s a hate-crime victim? Why did Rachel Dolezal want people to think she’s black? What type of authority or expertise do trans* activists have when speaking about the nature of sex and gender?

Dr. Molly Brigid McGrath is Director of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. She focuses on Husserlian phenomenology, Aristotle, social ontology and also enjoys writing philosophical movie reviews.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute.