Tag: Identity Politics

Mike Pence Doesn’t Hate Buttigieg or the LGBT Community

Jack Shields | @Jack_Shields20

Vice President Mike Pence is an evil man. He hates gay people. Pence cannot fathom that two consenting adults who love each other should be left alone. He wants to force conversion therapy upon innocent gay children. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any worse, we examine Mike Pence’s opinions towards women. He clearly hates them too. He sees A Handmaid’s Tell as the gold standard, not a dystopia.  He won’t even be alone with women who aren’t his wife! This is obviously a man who hates gays, women, and probably minorities. After all, he likes President Trump.

This is the usual opinion held concerning Mike Pence of those who consider themselves Democrats. We are seeing Mayor Pete Buttigieg claim that, because he is gay, Mike Pence hates him and wants to take his rights away.

Continue reading “Mike Pence Doesn’t Hate Buttigieg or the LGBT Community”

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Toxic Masculinity Is Real but Doesn’t Affect All Men

Mae Buck | United States

Many ultra-traditionalist conservatives might have you believe that toxic masculinity is just an excuse for boys who aren’t “boy enough” to exist and for men who aren’t “men enough” to exist. It’s the lack of masculinity that causes erratic violence, right? But, is it the surge of masculinity (and perhaps its friend, testosterone) that catalyzes “good” violence? The same masculinity that gives rise to calculated violence against deserving enemies and makes enemies in the first place?

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Debunking Dyson

K. Tymon Zhou | United States

How do you justify identity politics? Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown university sociology professor, uses history as a justification. Identity politics, in Dyson’s view, is a defensive response to historical injustices. During a recent interview, he declared that “When I check history, I think white people invented race.”  Dyson attacks his critics as historically ignorant, living in the “United States of Amnesia.” Dyson’s claim has a degree of validity. The United States has been historically dominated by whites. However, Dyson’s claim presents a false narrative that white Americans are uniquely guilty.

The idea that any one demographic group “invented” race is patently absurd.  Sociologists recognize that humans  instinctively gravitate towards group identities. Dyson’s claim that whites invented race as a group identity denies this universal principle. Henry Tajfel, a British social psychologist, demonstrated this in a 1970’s experiment.   Tajfel and his team organized a group of teens into completely arbitrary categories. The teens were told they were divided by artistic preference. Despite this arbitrary categorization, the teens persistently choose to give fake money to members of their own group. Group favoritism is a natural product of group identity, forming in-groups and out-groups. Consequently, cultural and philosophical justifications for racism are only mere outgrowths of this primal instinct. This extends beyond racial identity.  Non-European cultures created hierarchies of in-groups and out-groups within their own societies. West African slavery was centered on kinship, not racial identity. Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Aztecs and Mayans enslaved prisoners of war. Such examples demonstrate that group identity resulting in oppression is hardly unique to whites.

Even if one accepts Dyson’s premise that whites invented race, there are gaps in his argument. If race is a white invention, then why did American minorities embrace the concept? In the 1830s, Cherokee Native Americans embraced slavery, asserting that they were equal to whites and superior to African-Americans. As Paul Chatt Smith, a museum curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, explains:

The Five Civilized Tribes were deeply committed to slavery, established their own racialized black codes, immediately reestablished slavery when they arrived in Indian territory, rebuilt their nations with slave labor, crushed slave rebellions, and enthusiastically sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

If the idea of Native Americans owning slaves is shocking, African-Americans owning slaves is downright horrifying. Although, the number of African-American slave-holders was minuscule, a number became wealthy through slave labor. William Ellison, a black South Carolina planter, died owning 900 acres and 63 slaves in 1860. Ellison’s story is a perverse corruption of the American dream; he was born into slavery, but seems to have fully embraced the racial hierarchy of antebellum America. Moreover, free African-Americans were willing to fight for the Confederacy. The Louisiana Native Guards was formed by free African Americans.They asserted their loyalty to the southern cause:

  The free colored population [native] of Louisiana … own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land … and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana … They will fight for her in 1861 as they fought [to defend New Orleans from the British] in 1814-1815.”

These examples demonstrate that whites were not alone in their racism. It had enshrouded and penetrated all segments of American society. One can make the argument that only a minority of Native Americans or African-Americans owned slaves.  However, the same was true of the American South, with only 25% of Southerners owning slaves. If one forgives the Cherokee and African-American slave-owners, one also must forgive their white peers.

These complex historical circumstances do not diminish the scope of injustice but it demonstrates that history is not a race-centered morality play. In Dyson’s narrative, whites alone are responsible for racial injustice. In reality, whites were acting on a universal group instinct in establishing in-groups and out-groups.  They were not alone in accepting racist dogmas and prejudices. Indeed, Dr. Dyson lives in the United States of Amnesia, not his opponents.


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Obama, Freedom and Identity Politics

By K. Tymon Zhou | South Africa

As identity politics grow more popular to the american left, an unlikely individual may be able to help our racial divisions.

How can societies reconcile multicultural harmony with unity? At times, it seems impossible to achieve both of these noble aims.  The progressive left seeks to prioritize “inclusion” and “diversity”, but creates only a restless frenzy. This frenzy takes the form of identity politics, a corrosive influence in American life.  Recently, an unlikely source challenged this scourge: former president Barrack Obama. On Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Lecture. This speech expressed a fundamental optimism that diversity can exist with unity. Conservatives and libertarians should adopt this approach as they seek to restrain identity politics.

Firstly, Obama acknowledged historic injustices describing the colonialism that was prevalent in Mandela’s youth :

such a view of the world – that certain races, certain nations, certain groups were inherently superior, and that violence and coercion is the primary basis for governance, that the strong necessarily exploit the weak, that wealth is determined primarily by conquest – that view of the world was hardly confined to relations between Europe and Africa, or relations between whites and blacks. Whites were happy to exploit other whites when they could. And by the way, blacks were often willing to exploit other blacks.

It is surprising that Obama refers to oppression within the same racial groups. In the particular narrative, imperialism and oppression are not exclusively European sins. Instead, they are presented as universal. This runs to contrary to liberal identity politics which states that to be an oppressor, all one must do is to simply belong to an “advantaged” group.  Thus, liberal identity politics ignores the oppression that can occur within minority groups ( i.e blacks exploiting other blacks). Such a view is a horrific over-simplification. Moreover, it ignores the situational diversity within “advantaged” groups. This only fuels animosity between groups. Instead of seeing oppression in terms of identity, one must see it in terms of action. Obama’s more nuanced perspective recognizes this.

Secondly, Obama argues that democracy can resolve such injustices:

I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they’re endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good.

Despite its liberal source, libertarians and conservatives have readily embraced this message. Their primary focus is securing greater freedom and to protect inalienable rights. Such a goal inherently works towards a common good. In a magnificently miraculous manner, freedom created unity.  The same protection that grants Sikhs a right to self-expression grants Christian bakers that same right. In democracies, all groups can pursue these freedoms.

Ironically, Obama’s fellow liberals have forgotten this fundamental truth. They doubt that there is a common good. Consider the contemplation of two Harvard Crimson opinion writers,  Salma Abdelrahman and Nicholas P. Whittaker, devout progressive liberals:

My guiding light in the fight for justice is a vision for a world in which Black liberation does not have to ride on the coattails of white self-interest, a world in which the cries of Black and Brown folk are more than enough to change it…

If our battle against oppression must seek the permission of our masters, then are we not simply running in circles?

To these progressive liberals, the “common good” is a mere rhetorical device designed by the “oppressor”  to prevent progress. There is a certain demented logic to their reasoning. In their view, minorities are surrounded by oppressors. Consequently, there is no “we” between the oppressors and the oppressed. Therefore, the oppressed should not seek a compromise with their overlords, they should simply gain power for themselves.  At its core, this may sound appealing.  It offers an opportunity to create utopia without the hard work of building a democratic consensus.  Perhaps these bold visionaries should abandon the premise of believing in democracy.  There are alternative systems in which a minority can pursue its own goals without compromising with a majority: aristocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships of all stripes obey this principle. To avoid compromises, they brutally suppress freedom. Such is the dark road that toxic identity politics can lead.

Thankfully, such a road is not inevitable. As Obama recognized, there are brighter and more beautiful paths ahead if we embrace the unifying force of freedom. Through freedom, societies can reconcile multicultural harmony with unity.

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The Toxic Cocktail of Identity Politics

By K. Tymon Zhou | United States

In the United States, there are various demographic groups. There are inequalities in these groups. Our society’s cultural attitude towards such groups remains high debated. A thought experiment may illuminate this issue:

Imagine a hypothetical demographic group in the United States. This group is relatively small, constituting 1.9% of the population.  Despite this group’s status as a minority, it is fairly affluent: 46% of this group earns more than 100,000 dollars a year. By way of comparison, a mere 18% of Americans fall into this category. Moreover, this group is highly educated. 59% of the adults in this group have a college degree compared to the 27% of American adults as a whole.

How do you react to these statistics? Most people would react positively to this group’s success. They would see it evidence that the American Dream is real, that such a minority could succeed.  However, there are those who would resentfully respond that this group is oppressing others through their successes.

This group isn’t hypothetical; it’s American Jews. How could this be? Rampant antisemitism, thankfully, has faded. Yet, it occasionally raises its filthy face even in contemporary American life.

Shockingly, it manifests itself from the left, the supposed defenders of tolerance. In 2011, an Occupy Wall Street protestor carried placards with “Google: Jewish Billionaires” and “Google: Zionists Control Wall Street”. Another example occurred in 2017 at the University of Chicago, where a leaflet angrily declared,”Ending white privilege begins with ending Jewish privilege.”  Borrowing progressive language , it asks,”Is the 1% Straight White Men? Or is the 1% Jewish?”  To be completely fair, such examples are isolated. However, it speaks to the inherent toxicity of the progressive left’s identity politics.

Identity politics is defined as “politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.”  It perceives the world through a zero-sum lens. There are the oppressors and the oppressed. This is no third party.  This is the stance adopted by the progressive left especially in regards to “privilege”.

Nian Hu, an opinion writer at the Harvard Crimson, expressed the concept as follows:

Privilege is the idea that society grants unearned benefits to people because of certain aspects of their identity. And, on the flip side, there is oppression—the idea that society disadvantages people because of certain aspects of their identity. Privileged people, therefore, benefit at the expense of oppressed people.

How can one cease being an oppressor? According to Hu, you cannot. By simply belonging to a “privileged” group, you are an oppressor.

…I am an oppressor. As a cisgender and heterosexual person, I benefit from the oppression of LGBT people. As an able-bodied person, I benefit from the oppression of people with disabilities. The power structures of heterosexism, cissexism, and ableism grant me unearned benefits at the expense of LGBT people and people with disabilities.

If you are a member of a “privileged” group, woe be unto your soul! No amount of tolerance can liberate you from your status as an “oppressor”

From this logic, we begin to see the dark path that leads to leftist Antisemitism. If you are wealthy and well-educated, you are an oppressor.  Many Jews fit this description.  Are they oppressors? Should they declare that “We are oppressors. As Jews, we benefit from the oppression of non-Jewish people.”? Such a monstrosity belongs to the deranged delusions of Adolf Hitler, not America!

American democracy is not built on such sentiments. It’s built on compromises between groups, not a zero-sum game. These groups set aside their differences to pursue a better life for all. This tolerant spirit is what lead to the miracles of Philadelphia, obtaining independence and forming the Constitution. The various colonies (and later states) had various identities. Despite such differences, they found unity. As Patrick Henry nobly declared, “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian but an American.” It is this spirit that it is needed today, not the toxic cocktail of identity politics.


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