Identity Politics is an Obsession

The pimps of the ethics of sacrifice should be regarded as enslavers of men in spirit and exposed for what they are really saying.  Boyd Richard Boyd

Identity politics is first and foremost an obsession with oppression and victimization. Only those who claim to be victimized get to have their identity recognized, affirmed and honored.

Where we once bestowed on monuments, buildings, and streets the names of great generals, statesmen, and authors, now only those who claim to be victimized get to have their identity recognized, affirmed, and honored. They get museums, holidays, commemorative stamps, movies, and books sanctifying their suffering and celebrating their accomplishments, both real and fake.   Their purported oppressors – men, heterosexuals, and above all, white people – are denied this privilege. They must atone in perpetuity for the sins of their fathers.

Identity politics extends even to Congress. There is a Congressional Black Caucus, a Hispanic Caucus, an LGBT Caucus, a Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, and nothing stands in the way of Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib starting a Muslim Congressional Caucus.

It goes without saying that there is no Caucasian Conference, Heterosexual Cis-Caucus, or Congressional Caucus for Men’s Issues. To the identarians, white, male, and straight cannot form identity groups because they sit atop the structures of power.

In her essay, Sacrificial Politics and Sacred Victims, Molly McGrath coins the term “Sacrificial Politics” to describe our current political dispensation.   To be sacred, she writes, is to be set apart, not to be handled like ordinary “profane” things.  Victims of collective oppression are endowed with sacred status and all must defer to them.  It isn’t necessary for any one individual to have personally suffered as long as they belong to a victimized group.

It goes without say that there is something disrespectful about criticizing what they say. They are elevated above argument.  Those who treat sacred things as though they were normal things are sacrilegious: some mixture of ignorant and evil. They are Profane, or worse Blasphemers. 

What Sacrificial politics preserves is the poison of slave morality and resentment, while discarding, diluting and distorting, central elements of Christian theology.  It retains the idea of an original sin transmitted across the generations, but imputes it only to the oppressor groups. Those with sacred identities are born innocent.  They can never be held responsible for their perceived collective behavior, even though oppressor groups are held responsible.

Sacrificial politics is more akin to Islam than Christianity. White people, Malcolm X taught, “are born devils by nature.” They are a race of blue-eyed devils created through eugenics out of the original black inhabitants of the earth by an evil wizard named Yakub on the Greek island of Patmos. This, of course, is nonsense, but nonsense that identity politics embraces.

Unlike Christianity, Sacrificial Politics neither preaches forgiveness nor promises justice. There is no Promised Land of reconciliation between the oppressors and their victims, no hope that one day “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Hatred of straight white males is the glue that binds together the rainbow coalition of groups that not only have nothing in common with one another, but are themselves artificial constructs.  Sacrificial Politics asks us to believe that white Cuban aristocrats, brown Guatemalan day laborers, and black Lusophone Brazilians are all Hispanic brethren;  that homosexual men and lesbians, who tend to segregate themselves into different social settings are all members of an “LGBTQ community”; that native black Americans, Hutu and Tutsi Rwandese immigrants, and second-generations Caribbean-Americans are all African Americans; that all women, married and single, form a sisterhood; and that all these disparate groups are harmoniously united!

But even McGrath had to admit in passing that suffering is not some singular site of meaning in life. It is not the primary driver of identity or sole source of wisdom.  By feeding distrust, insecurity, and anger, by occluding joy and enjoyment of others, an exclusive focus on suffering can distort a person’s identity.

Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water.   Elif Safak

Source:  Social Justice Rites  by David Azerrad, Assistant Professor at Hillsdale College’s Van Andel Graduate School of Government in Washington; Sacrificial Politics and Sacred Victims by Molly Brigid McGrath, Law and Liberty

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