the ethnic politics of love actually


Over the past week, Atlantic film critic Christopher Orr has waged a noble, yet foolish battle against equally-foolish evangelists of Love Actually, the now-notorious 2003 British Christmas-movie-qua-romantic-comedy. Unintentionally and (perhaps too) whimsically, The Atlantic‘s Great Love Actually Conflict of December 2013 illustrates the evolution of ethnic identity during political conflict:

1. First, a belligerent force asserts an identity, and seeks to impose that identity on others through coercive means.

2. Second, a marginalized group asserts a counter-identity, which exists simultaneously in itself and in opposition to the “original” identity.

3. Third, the belligerent force, placed on the political–and, often, military–defensive by its counter-identity, wages attritional conflict against the marginalized group and its supporters.

4. Civilians are often harmed.

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