Sadly, there is political hay to be made out of herding people into separate and irreconcilable interest groups and pitting them against each other.

As one activist put it, while explaining why it is important to capitalize the word “black,” the idea is to emphasize that this is “a specific group of people with a shared political identity.” How convenient.

For the profiteers of a tribalistic, us-versus-them politics, the worst threat is the person who sees him- or herself as an individual.

But herding people into collectives requires that we invent inherent differences between them, which requires carving up various attributes of human character, ability, and culture and assigning them to one group or another. One of those groups is always going to end up being assigned the least desirable characteristics.

In a way, though, I suppose today’s “progressives” are going full circle. Recent debates over the legacy of Woodrow Wilson—the president who brought segregation back to federal hiring—have reminded us all that the first batch of “progressives” were barking mad racists obsessed with eugenics and steeped in racial caricatures.