The Democratic Party and the Biden Administration are systematically pushing the poison of “identity politics” on us in every conceivable walk of life. I think Prof. Amy Chua described it well.
When groups feel threatened, they retreat into tribalism. When groups feel mistreated and disrespected, they close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them.
In America today, every group feels this way to some extent. Whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, straight people and gay people, liberals and conservatives – all feel their groups are being attacked, bullied, persecuted, discriminated against.
Of course, one group’s claims to feeling threatened and voiceless are often met by another group’s derision because it discounts their own feelings of persecution – but such is political tribalism.
This – combined with record levels of inequality – is why we now see identity politics on both sides of the political spectrum. And it leaves the United States in a perilous new situation: almost no one is standing up for an America without identity politics, for an American identity that transcends and unites all the country’s many subgroups.
There’s more at the link, and in her book “Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations“.
We see this on our streets in the violence propagated and encouraged by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and in our politics by budgetary and other allocations aimed at specific identity groups, rather than at the needs of Americans as a whole. Critical race theory is a well-known outgrowth of identity politics, seeking to understand history, culture and society in terms of identity politics, prioritizing some races and criticizing or denigrating others.
Tragically, when one or more groups start agitating on the basis of identity politics and its offshoots, they polarize and politicize the differences between other groups in society. Before long, each group seeks to prioritize its own interests at the expense of others, so as not to lose out. The result is what we see today in America: a nation divided, where national unity takes second place in the hearts and minds of most Americans compared to their own sectarian, racial, cultural, economic or other interests. Injustices committed against other groups are excused or even ignored, because addressing them might cause more resources to be devoted to those groups, and less to our own.
In fact, government is seen as a zero sum game; it has a finite amount of resources, and must divide those between the groups fighting for their share of them. There’s no sense of spending equally on all Americans to deal with national problems – everything is broken down into special interests and groups, fighting each other for their slice of the pie. Usually, this means taking part of the slice of someone else’s pie and giving it to another – which touches off the next cycle of outrage and demands for redress.
The trouble is, this has divided us so greatly that it may no longer be possible to talk about an “American” rather than a “hyphenated American”. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, more than a century ago:
There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts ‘native’ before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as anyone else.
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
Again, more at the link. More recent terms such as “African-American”, “Hispanic-American” or “Native American” are, IMHO, just as divisive as those highlighted above.
The wisdom of the late President Roosevelt’s remarks is borne out by many of the statements, appeals and screeds that appear daily in our news media. Almost without exception, they seek to divide Americans by emphasizing and prioritizing this, or that, or the other group over our national identity. Essentially, they’re doing all they can to destroy our national identity. The same is evident in other nations. Witness the two recent letters from retired and current military figures in France to President Macron concerning the divisions within that country, and their call to re-establish national unity as a culture and a polity (not to mention their implicit threat to act if he doesn’t do so).
Is it too late to begin to re-emphasize a national identity? Have we already become too riven by division and identity politics to have an agreed “American identity” at all? I begin to fear so. My recent series of articles on “Defending yourself in a progressive, left-wing environment” was inspired by the self-evident reality that many of our law enforcement and justice systems, local, regional and national, are now deliberately, actively and openly biased against certain groups and in favor of others. When that is not only permitted, not only tolerated, but actively encouraged by the highest authorities in the land, then there can be no national identity.
If the enemies of this nation had actively conspired to undermine it, they couldn’t have done a better job than identity politics has accomplished. To restore America as a nation, we’re going to have to undermine identity politics – and too many groups and individuals now identify themselves with the latter to make that easily achievable. I believe those responsible for that should pay the price for their actions.