For several decades now, the liberal political community has been promoting the Siamese twin political philosophies of political correctness and identity politics. They proffer this as a way to bring a certain government-imposed equity between identifiable groups. At least that is the positive spin they put on it.
Underlying their superficial expressions of good intent, there is the real truth – political gain. Throughout history, pitting groups against each other in an I-win, you-lose game of divisiveness has been the way authoritarians have seized and maintained power. The blind loyalty of one group is fostered by creating an enemy. It is a paradigm based on the oldest of political phenomena – surrendering security from the perceived ambitions of an “enemy” at the cost of personal freedom.
The fear may be based on the potential of a military conquest loss of economic advantage. People follow the autocrats out of promulgated fear rather than admiration. A sense of survival displaces the more noble governing principles.
America’s great experiment in democracy was based on a far different doctrine – that all men (and women) were created equal and all had “inalienable” rights granted by God – or their human nature, if you prefer. The motto, e Pluribus Unum, was not a catchphrase. It was a fundamental belief – even if the politics of the times failed to represent the sentiment fully.
One can even look to science to appreciate the belief in human equity. People of the most diverse cultures – with far different appearances to the casual eye – are made up of virtually identical genetics. In a sense, every human being on earth is a genetic twin. We do have much more in common than anything that differentiates us individually, by nationality or by ethnicity.
The differences we reflect in our daily lives – and the meaning we give to those differences – are all part of our respective social structures. We educate ourselves to be different – and therein lies the problem. It is the difference between human harmony and chaos – between peaceful co-existence and hostility.
Prior to the 1960s — as an approximate frame of reference – America was a nation committed to unity – striving for it through the Founders’ admonition to “form a more perfect union.” “Union” being the operative word. America was to be – and for many decades was – a nation of one culture … one set of core beliefs.
Having many (e Pluribus) becoming one (Unum) was the process of assimilation. By its very nature, it means breaking down the psychological walls of separation into a common belief system. Immigrants came here to become Americans in every sense of the word – language, customs and the conservative principles of personal freedom. Identity politics prevents assimilation … prevents unity. It is anathematic to America’s founding principles.
The problem is as old as humanity, itself. Perceived differences have been the root cause of every human conflict … every war … every genocide … every inhumanity to man. Identity politics is what drives the brutality of ISIS in its Jihad against the non-Muslim world. It is what sets off the Sunnis against the Shiites in the Middle East. It is at the foundation of the tribal warfare iconic in central Africa.
In many cases, emerging identity politics – the politics based on differences – has split otherwise harmonious societies. We see that in the differences that have evolved between South and North Korea. We saw it in the Cold War, with the physical and political wall that divided West and East Germany. We see it in the bloody conflict between Catholics and protestants in Northern Ireland.
And we are seeing it sprouting in America thanks to identity politics. Arguably, there is more racial friction and division today than in the years following the civil rights successes of the 1960s. Identity politics is breeding racial tension – not ameliorating it. The identity politics of socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is breeding class warfare. The Feminist Movement – once predicated on perceived inequalities – has evolved into gender-based hostility against the so-declared “toxic male.”
When we see the Balkanization or tribalization of America over the past 50-plus years, we see the effects of identity politics. The breakdown in the common culture is seen in the disrespect for the flag and the National Anthem – the two primary symbols of American unity. While we once dealt with differences, there remained an overarching acceptance of core principles, we no longer “rally ‘round the flag” as the old marching song called upon us to do. Identity politics has destroyed that – and we are losing our core values to a battle over competing desires and interests.
Identity politics defies the concept of sacrifice. Personal ambitions – and yes, greed – supplant our more noble character. It demands that the collective desire for more – of just about anything – supersedes our willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.
The last time that America truly cleaved into two very different identities, the results were tragic. It is called the Civil War. We evolved into two cultures that could not exist as one nation. President Lincoln did not use the term identity politics, but in proclaiming that a “house divided cannot stand,” he was referring to the concept.
Rather than focusing on inequities within our nation – and addressing them with a respectful sense of cultural and political commonality — we are disconnecting the issues from the common culture in favor of a more parochial approach that is at the foundation of Identity politics.
Identity politics is the enemy of human harmony. It creates and formalizes competitive differences that, in the extreme, create human carnage. It sets off one class, one group, against another. It breaks down our beneficial common culture into the form of tribalism we see today. Identity politics is the doctrine of human discord – ergo, it is evil.
So, there ‘tis.