The curse of “identity politics”: setting groups at each other’s throats


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.



  1. Any nation that does not defend itself, that refuses even to define itself and defend its borders, cannot and will not long survive. The history of the world is the history of predators devouring the weak.

  2. There are two ways to respond to "identity politics", a modern term for something that has been a part of humanity since there have been humans. You can moan about it and wish it were otherwise or you can recognize that tribalism based on things like race is an inherent human trait and start to look out for your own people and abandoning misguided and futile appeals to egalitarianism.

    1. Other things that are inherent, but destructive, human traits include laziness, promiscuity, and hedonism. I don't see you advocating that we abandon misguided and futile appeals to the work ethic and self control.

  3. 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.

    "if"?? There's ample evidence that this comes out of one of the communist think tanks and was intended all along to destroy our country. It has been going on for decades.

    Look up the Frankfurt school with your favorite search engine.

  4. What SigGreybeard said. It was known, after the fall of the Soviets, that they had funded, bought, inserted, bribed and outright recruited heavily into three segments of advanced education.

    One was the media, the Soviet takeover of many newsrooms was partially accomplished by taking over the Journalism schools.

    Another was International Relations, and the corresponding takeover of the State Department. Which we are still dealing with.

    But it was the Education schools that they really hit hard at, all aspects of it, from classroom teaching to textbook writing.

    Sure, other segments of the nation were taken over, but none as heavily as those three above.

    Control the message, control the delivery of the message and control the ability to transmit the message. It's all there in those three commie takeovers.

    (Lump the entertainment industry kinda into journalism, since so many Americans seem to rely upon them for the news…)

  5. Tribe is truth. Multi-ethnic empires and the US stupidly went down this route, always end up with internal tensions as the economy no longer able to buy them off.

    The US got sort of lucky since the main groups in the US are closely related and shared the same religious tendencies for the most part.

    Even so we suffered from enormous internal strife, AFAIK the Irish draft riots of the 1863 were the most destructive in US history maybe even more than the most recent ones or the 1992 L.A. Riots

    One people, one religion, one nation, little to no expansion is the most stable configuration and all others risk greater ruin. No cheap labor ever.

    As to Communist subversion, the US was founded on Liberal principals by people who were by British standards traitors , its a Leftist society at its core since freedom of speech and religion are left wing ideas

    This makes it defenseless against subversion and our elites need to keep a multi ethnic empire together and desire for power and money, encourages them on.

    Fundamentally the US cannot survive in its current configuration but The Right won't consider alternatives and is barely wiling to consider taking power for a lot of reasons laziness lack of ideology, lack of interest in power, money obsession, and while the Left has power and tries to use it, stupid ideas yield stupid results.

    Bluntly the US as any Conservative ain't gonna make it, best be prepared.

  6. Unity, huh?

    Under what procedures? The ones that brought us here?

    Within what structure? The structure that hates me?

    I didn't leave America. America left me. If they all want to come back that's fine but screw compromise; they are in the wrong and I'm not gonna meet them half way.

  7. The point is to eliminate individualism. Everybody can be defined by their skin-color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Marx would have gone along with that if he had access to the internet, technology and all the rich people spouting this nonsense.

    God created all of us as individuals. We each exist for His purpose. God's adversary prefers to think of it any other possible way except God's.

  8. You conveniently left out the White identity politics that started it. I don't think that Black/Latino/other identity politics are the best path, but I don't blame them; after being told for generations that IF we were good, we'd get some crumbs off the master's tables, I'd lose faith in the promise of equality.

    What's a liberal to do? Keep hoping and working for the idea that people can overcome their base tribalistic instincts and work for all of humanity? Or give in to despair, that we will never be any better than our squabbling ancestors?

  9. @plocb: If you'd been reading this blog for a longer period, you'd realize you're wrong. I was one of those who tried our utmost to get rid of the apartheid policies practiced in South Africa, where one's race was the determining factor for almost everything else of importance. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

    Sadly, the progressive left is reverting to exactly that racial frame of reference at present, but they're making it even more divisive by slicing every possible group identity into microscopic divisions. You can be black, sure; but you're really "black lesbian liberal" or "black cisgender pan-africanist" or whatever the flavor du jour may be. It's gotten to the point that it's a ridiculous parody of reality.

    Identity politics divides, rather than unites. That's the bottom line. I agree 100% with President Theodore Roosevelt's argument: it's impossible to be a hyphenated American and still be loyal to an un-hyphenated national ideal. Divisions of the past merely confirm that, and bear it out. We're supposed to be building something better, not reverting to what failed us (every group) so miserably in the past.

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