The Danger of Identity Politics

Virtually everyone has heard of the Charlottesville protests and resulting violence. In the original protest, there were white supremacists, chanting vile statements such as, “Jews will not replace us.” The following day, the protests turned violent with the counter-protests like Antifa, and one of the white supremacists ran over many people with his car, killing one. This is not the first display of identity politics which turned violent, but it probably is one of the few to drive the news cycle for as long as it did on the topic of white nationalism and white supremacism. There is only one problem with some of the coverage on this white supremacist rally: it was treated as unique.

Black Lives Matter, a group supporting the identity politics of black people, held a rally in Dallas, which ended when a black supremacist shot twelve policeman, killing five, from a rooftop with a sniper rifle. News coverage focused on the danger of guns, rather than of black supremacy and anti-police sentiment.

Identity politics in all its forms should be despised, whether or not you think people of a certain skin color are at some sort of disadvantage, past or present. For positive reasons or for negative reasons, grouping people by their skin color is immoral. Though trying to forward identity politics is not violent at a surface level, and should not be grouped with the terrorist acts mentioned above, it is foolish to pretend that identity politics do not divide people.

Identity politics teach that the only thing that matters is your identity, and that the system’s purpose to inflict harm on people with that identity. They assume a uniformity of political leanings and world experience within a group, and it is in the interest of furthering identity politics to ignore any outliers from that uniformity. For example, the Women’s March this past January disallowed groups of women who wished to march with a pro-life stance.

Identity politics are not limited to race. They can include any group which is willing to give itself a collective victim identity, to call for obtaining government power on the basis of identity, and/or to call for a more partial government. The latter is inherently unfair: government should not be partial to identity groups, or give some identity groups more power than others, rather, it should push individualism wherever possible. The former, a group giving itself a victim identity, actually makes political violence seem more acceptable, in the interest of fighting ‘an oppressive system.’

Perhaps condemning identity politics seen anywhere will be one of the few uniting forces in the country. It certainly should be.


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