A recent Ordered Liberty podcast took up the topic of intersectionality in away that made it especially clear. According to the discussion, the ideology gives the person with the most direct claim to victimization the lead authority to decry any given target, and then it is the duty of the “allies” to back her or him up. Thus, in the case of shutting down speech, the people doing the dirty work aren’t necessarily even offended themselves, but see themselves as defending others who hypothetically are or might be.
On the podcast, David French and Alexandra DeSanctis emphasize the greater power this system gives to the most supposedly victimized person in the group, but I think it’s much more insidious than that. After all, if that were the case, you could reason with the person flagging the offense, bring in somebody of the same category to dispute it, or persuade the mob that the person leading the charge isn’t reliable.
More likely, the power actually goes to whoever it is who defines what is offensive, which is probably a smaller, more elite group. After all, we regularly see people from minority groups who decline to take offense dismissed as inauthentic. Somewhere, somebody is declaring what interest groups are included in the network and what they should find offensive.
When these declarations are distributed, people within an interest group will either respond with the required offense or, for the most part, simply step back and be quiet out of fear that they’re just different (in a way that makes them the worst thing: privileged). Those who don’t want to go along or step back are brushed out of the picture. With this nucleus of offense, “allies,” who may fear they have no right to voice their contrary opinions, act on behalf of people who might not ultimately be offended themselves.
So, the question is: Where are the orders coming from? For the most part, it seems that people “just know” what the dictates are. It could be that somebody proposes an idea or responds with offense and the proposal either catches on or it doesn’t, suggesting that the power of intersectionality is held by those with the most credibility on the Left in general — professors, activists, famous people, union organizers, billionaire donors, and so on.