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Johnson: Identity politics hurt all political spectrums



My last column received a critique that I thought I would address before I begin this one. I was told that I — and this was a shocking blow — am a white cis male. When I heard this I had to sit down. To think myself, whom I’ve known for as long as I can remember, could be the literal super villain of our comic book world shook me to the core. As devastating as it was, the problem needs to be made right. Here are my thoughts.

America is divided and identity politics are to blame. If you ask what is dividing America on campus, I imagine there would be a long list of concepts such as inequality, racism, the patriarchy, white supremacy and many other exciting topics people love to spout off to show how they’re not just some sheep like the rest of America. Some of their points are valid. There has always been racism and inequality in America, and there always will be. One may ask, why hasn’t it gotten any better? Our country has become lightyears more progressive and liberal since the days of our founding fathers, and yet racism and inequality seem only to be getting worse. How is this possible? Well, that’s easy: it’s identity politics, of course.

Never mind that the United States is one of the least racist countries on Earth. Identity politics, and postmodern philosophy as a whole, need to convince the populace they are racist for the ideology to work. The whole point is to convince the “ruling” class that they are evil and what better way to do so than to label them as racists. Make them feel guilty for something, even if they aren’t, and they will rush to relinquish the social power they have. Identity politics are the social form of interrogation and torture. They wear people down to the point they admit to something they’ve never done. Once a generation internalizes the crimes they never committed they will gladly destroy themselves and their culture in the name of repentance and saving face.

Identity politics take the worst parts of both the conversation skills of a toddler and the prestige of a college degree. Students are urged to express their opinions but only if they pass the privilege test first. White? Forget it. Male? Maybe we’ll talk after an ancestry report. White male? Shut up and listen, because we have some serious dismantling of privilege to undertake.

The root of this argument is an attempt to dismantle the self as one’s identity. The idea is to break hegemony by destroying the “ruling” class’ identity via dismissal and diminution, beginning with the ruling class and working slowly but surely down the ladder until identity as a whole is removed from culture and humanity. Deeply intertwined with marxism, postmodernism was the cultural revolution not by a workers revolt, but an internal revolt against oneself with the hopes of setting off a chain reaction and bringing down culture and society and raising a utopia from the ashes. The paradox of this philosophy is that the only way to actualize this end goal is to demonize traits and tropes of identity, which acknowledges the importance of identity to their cause while the whole point of the exercise is to convince people of identity’s unimportance. Never mind that the large majority of the postmodernist philosophers whose utopian, anti-individual propaganda people blindly recant are, wait for it, old upperclass white men.

Identity politics have created a pavlovian response from the hivemind of each side of the political spectrum.

Campus culture is seeping out into the country, reducing conversations over important subjects to hurling buzzword-laden excrement at each other like angry apes in a zoo. At first I thought it was funny, and that it was just a few people who didn’t know how to argue or didn’t know their facts. But it is no longer a joke. Identity politics have become the norm. Don’t like something someone says because you can’t refute it? Don’t worry, just throw out a buzzword and hope everyone around you has been brainwashed long enough to also consider that an insult and they’ll join in the group shaming until the person with an argument shuts up and leaves. That is the modern rebuttal format. Facts, questions, logic? Nonsense. If you feel something, it must be so. Because hey, you do feel it, after all.

This emotion-first form of communication has fostered more division between average Americans than anything else in our modern political landscape. People are frothing at the mouth to be the first one to shut down someone for speaking out against this hive mind. It happens on both sides of the political spectrum, although the left has made it their livelihoods. To my fellow conservatives, yelling, “dumb liberal” at someone isn’t going to solve anything either. In fact it’s only fanning the flames of division.

Right now identity politics have our nation in a chokehold, but we can’t take enough steps back from our screaming match to see that it’s our own hands on our throats squeezing the life out of our nation. Identity politics have created a pavlovian response from the hive mind of each side of the political spectrum. Each time the buzzword bell is rung, our eyes glaze over as we spew our baseless insults at each other, hoping your side has more air in their lungs.

Nothing will ever improve until one by one we realize this regressive movement will never better us. One by one we need to step back from the front lines of identity politics and find others who have done so too. Strike up a conversation with someone, just to talk. Don’t back down from tough subjects and don’t be afraid to be wrong. That’s how we learn. Don’t expect a tidal wave of people to come join you, many will still be on the front lines shelling each other with insults. Those people will remain bullies and some will never change, but the only way to defeat a bully is to ignore them and carry on with your life. Over time, people may actually come to their senses, snap out of their glossy-eyed trance, and join others in open conversation. But maybe that too is a utopian pipe dream.

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Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson