Heard on the Hill


HOTH crop

  • “There’s this guy who hangs out at tonic and juggles completely sober. I think I’m in love.”
  • “I don’t drink anything that isn’t blue. Blue is my favorite color.”
  • “Man, I love Cedric the Entertainer.”
  • “And then it’s probably going to end with the money shot with people tasting it.”
  • “Yeah, I watch anime and I’m not ashamed of it.”
  • “I’m dating someone but he doesn’t know we’re dating.”
  • “Everyone picks their nose on their own time.”
  • Person 1: “I’m not a huge country fan.”
    Person 2: “This is bluegrass, bitch.”
  • “Okay, but Goldfish are GOOD for you”
  • “I hope people don’t get creeped out by how much I look at their kids.”


The Evolution of Identity Politics and the Devolution of the Democratic Party


By Logan Gossett

Pride, absent delusion, is a consequence of achievement. I did not abolish slavery, nor was I a pilgrim that successfully cultivated North American soil. As David French noted for the National Review, advances of the past command gratitude, not pride. I am grateful for the abolition of slavery; I am proud, and relieved, that I learned potty-training. There is an important difference between the two.

Delineating what necessitates pride and what necessitates gratitude exposes a microcosm of identity politics’s myriad flaws: it creates fractious, delusional pride in identity rather than unifying gratitude that’s granted potentiality by self-determinism; it replaces gratitude for what our predecessors did (e.g., devise a government that respects self determinism, abolish slavery, and scaffold indiscriminate suffrage) with pride in what we didn’t do (e.g., the aforementioned). By attempting to represent the interests of the marginalized, it suppresses the voices of the individual.

In the Federalist Papers’ lauded tenth entry, James Madison, writing as Publius, attempted to reconcile the rift “factions” create between liberty for all individuals and security for asset-possessing individuals. The essay’s undulating principles extol self-determinism and employ representative government to uphold it. In the Federalist Papers’ tenth entry, Madison says “[But] it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”

Factions as Madison describes them will naturally form between those with commonalities, but the individuals therein included are not defined by their faction. The social advocacy of the Federalist Papers No. 10 is that the republic should 1) safeguard factions from dictating a nation’s legislation and 2) prevent factions from overriding an individual’s inherent self-determinism.

Identity politics creates factions that prescribe allegiances to individuals — whether by skin color, income, sexual orientation, or any another appraisal method. This conflates the best interests of an individual with the best interests of factions.

The waxing of identity politics in American political rhetoric has diluted discoucourse. News and op-eds are replete with self-parodying presuppositions about opposing factions.

For example, Chauncey Devega wrote for Salon in January, saying “Trump and the Republicans’ attempts to connect Democratic support for the ‘Dreamers’ […] with murder and gang violence, is one more example of how the American right has sought to incite violence against any groups or individuals it perceives as political enemies.”

A simplification of Devega’s rhetorical use of identity politics here is “the right hates hispanics.” The purported objective of the right to incite violence against hispanics in this example is a gross presupposition that ends discourse between democrat and republican factions before it can begin.

Joshua Mitchell, a professor teaching political science at Georgetown University, explained identity politics attribution of factions in City Journal’s publication.

Identity pertains not simply to the kind of person that we are. People have been sorted (and self-sorted) into kinds throughout history. Identity is different. First, it carries a determination about guilt or innocence that nothing can appreciably alter. Its guilt is guilt without atonement; its innocence is innocence without fault. No redemption is possible, but only a schema of never-ending debts and payments.

The issue of identity politics begins with devaluing self-determinism and it ends with what Mitchell described as debts. He continued to expound on the varying degrees of indebtedness, describing a christian hetersexual white male as the “epicenter of guilt.” The closer an individual is to the epicenter guilt, the more guilty and, thus, “indebted.” The further an individual is from the epicenter of guilt – heterosexual white male – the more innocent they are.

Mitchell posited that the panacea for the wounds of past transgressions, like slavery, is to unify around a gratitude for the potential America helps scaffold for all individuals, regardless of race and its arbitrarily prescribed modern debts. This is the dream Dr. Martin Luther King worked toward and, as Mitchell concluded, “If the party cannot find a cure for its confusion, it will expire in the paroxysm that identity politics produces.” Some traditional liberals share Mitchell’s sentiment toward identity politics.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Columbia University professor Mark Lilla denounced identity politics. “Finally, the whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored.” Lilla continued, “Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America […] they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity.”

Identity politics have a checkered history in the United States, starting with the Ku Klux Klan. Fivethirtyeight observed the synergy between left and right – or even black and white – identity politics without acknowledging it.

In his New York Times op-ed, Lilla observed that “Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.” Democrats are playing the identity game. In doing so, they renounce the hope and human commonalities inspired by traditional liberalism and opt for a convulsive emphasis of differences between American factions.

Of course, democrats with a rooting interest in identity politics decried Mark Lilla’s denouncement of it. Lilla’s coworker at Columbia, professor Katherine Frank, objected to Lilla’s counterpoint to identity politics, saying “Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable. Again.” This, despite Lilla’s explicit objections to identity politics largely because of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

The democratic backlash caused by Lilla’s objections to identity politics is illustrative of the corrosive in-fighting identity politics creates, fracturing the democratic party internally, and widening the cataclysmic chasm between the democrats and republicans.

Identity politics appears to subvert the autonomy of individuals in favor of projecting the needs of the individual’s factions. Author Shane Phelan attempted to reconcile this conflict in Identity Politics: Lesbian Feminism and the Limits of Community. “[she need not] agree that my understanding of a good life is the true, the best, the purest. What she need do is believe that I mean what I say; that is, she must agree to treat me as a being competent to speak of my own desires and motives directly, even if she suspects that I am not.”

Phelan’s mechanism for identity politics depends on the individual’s voice being heard. In democratic identity politics, as professor Joshua Mitchell stated, the most important characteristic of individuals “is that we are white, black, male, female, straight, gay, and so on.” Rather than respecting the individual’s ability to express their desires and motives, this information is presupposed by our characteristics (i.e., identity) through identity politics.

Unifying gratitude for the liberty James Madison advocated for in the Federalist Papers has been replaced by a fractious pride in identity through democratic identity politics. Although democratic identity politics seeks to rectify the concerns of the marginalized, it mutes them.


Heard on the Hill


HOTH crop

  • “I’m sorry I got lipstick on your blunt.”
  • “Guys at K-State are so much hotter!”
  • “This dressing is dry, kinda like Hillary Clinton”
  • “Ah, he keeps bitin’ his wiener.”
  • “Yeah, I watch anime and I’m not ashamed of it.”
  • “You bit my ankle when you were blacked out last night.”
  • “I would say you and I must be watching different porn, but with the amount of porn I watch that is statistically unlikely.”
  • “It’s not probable cause if a dog’s sniffing your ass.”
  • Person 1: “Why should my tax dollars pay for your medical expenses?”
    Person 2: “Because, TODD, we’re trying to live in a fuckin’ society here so maybe be a team player for once?”
  • “Does your vagina ever fall asleep?”


The Mystery of Poppy


Words and photos by Georgia Hickam

“I’m Poppy,” says Poppy. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube with 235 million total views, Poppy repeats those two words in childlike monotone for 10 minutes. Poppy and her art and video director, Titanic Sinclair, performed at the Granada as part of her Poppy.Computer tour on Sunday night. She invited all her “Poppy Seeds” to join her in her pastel parallel universe.

The stage screens read “initiating” as Titanic Sinclair, wearing a pink jumpsuit, drank from a pitcher of Kool-Aid and passed around more of the pink liquid to the audience. Though she claims to not be the leader of a cult, Poppy encouraged her followers to prove their love for her by literally “drinking the Kool-aid”, chanting her songs, and endorsing products she claims are her favorite, like Doritos and Monster Energy Drinks.
Wearing her signature long platinum blonde hair and dressed in a tutu and purple dress, Poppy sang songs about falling in love with a computer (Computer Boy), saying “hello” and “goodbye” online (Moshi Moshi), about losing her microphone (Microphone), and making a video (Let’s Make a Video).
Poppy’s songs are intentionally repetitive, simplistic, and empty, and I have become shamefully obsessed with the purest form of bubblegum pop imaginable.
Titanic Sinclair and Poppy’s mission seems to be satirical performance art commenting on how easy it is to become famous in a digital age. They openly mock and copy the things celebrities do to become famous, and Poppy is succeeding in becoming famous for it.
Who is Poppy? Is she real? Is she a robot? Poppy is mysterious. Poppy is abstract. Poppy is and isn’t. All I know is I am fascinated by someone I know nothing about, who might not even exist at all.



By Justin Hermstedt

No musical act has propelled itself into the new year with more momentum than Brockhampton. The eclectic hip-hop group released three albums in the second half of 2017, each one more successful than the last. They left Los Angeles for a national tour which includes a sold out stop at the Truman in Kansas City. Most importantly, the self-described “boy band” has garnered a devoted following on the internet.

Brockhampton comprises roughly 14 members, an assortment of rappers, singers, producers, designers and other artists. Whether there’s a hint of irony to the boy band label or not, thousands of online teens and former teens have taken it and ran with it. Brockhampton found their niche with young people who never fit in with a musical fandom before now. A large segment of young people who were once the target demographic of One Direction never identified with 1D’s catchy, fluffy, and apolitical teen pop. Brockhampton proudly subvert the typical tropes of a boy band in terms of subject matter. *NSYNC never rapped about armed robbery, and K-pop stars BTS don’t lust over Shawn Mendes.

But Brockhampton aren’t just an edgy boy band; they’re also on the cutting edge of hip-hop. Brockhampton are challenging how hip-hop should look and sound, inspired by predecessors like Odd Future, Kid Cudi, and Kanye West (some of the members met on Kanyetothe, a Kanye West fan forum). From Saturation to Saturation III, the group refined its vibrant DIY style into a cohesive product. It seems like these boys are poised to take over the world.

But how sustainable is this level of productivity? Isn’t a tragic breakup an essential chapter in a boy band’s life? As Brockhampton begin to earn more mainstream success, we’ll witness not only the birth of stars, but also the supernova of the group that got them this far.

Brockhampton’s new year isn’t going to look like this past year, but they’re more likely to evolve than to fall off. Throughout 2017, Brockhampton members have consistently been creating on an individual level, including music, film, graphic design, and fashion projects. These like-minded artists have cultivated an environment where individual artistry is encouraged, and where they can make music on a group level without the pressure of an overbearing record label. All their creative endeavors will continue and expand in 2018, along with whatever Brockhampton produce as a group. They even already teased a fourth album, aptly titled “Team Effort.”

Regardless of what the future holds for Brockhampton, now is the perfect time to check them out.

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