Roland Barthes and the Value of Closets

There is no such thing as neutrality, we often hear. Our contemporary culture warriors, whose livelihoods depend on our sense of mutual enmity and embitterment, continually remind us that there is no escape from the conflicts they stoke. Ibram X. Kendi insists there can be “no neutrality” toward his brand of antiracism; the only alternative is racism. From the right, social conservatives cheer on figures like Sohrab Ahmari for claiming that there can be “no neutrality” on so-called social issues, and that politics itself is nothing other than the selection of a class of “clerics” to enforce moral “orthodoxy.” Kendi, whose signature political ambition is the creation of a Department of Antiracism, staffed with ideological clones of himself, may use different terminology, but he could hardly dispute the substance of Ahmari’s point.

 

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