Opinion: Why Identity Politics is not helping the problem

Protests in Charlottesville have just made the problem I have witnessed for the past 10 years visible

I need to start this article by stating, I completely condemn the protests and actions of Neo-Nazi’s, White Supremacists and the KKK.

The actions of Charlottesville do not need to be rehashed by me, the facts are out there and have already been covered.

Identity Politics is a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad based party politics.

Now many mainstream opinion pieces have also covered this topic, with the Wall Street Journal taking the approach that identity politics is ‘poison’ and the Washington Post stating “it is not to blame”.

I have spent nearly 10 years visiting the United States of America, spending some years nearly half of my time in the country. When I first visited, President George W. Bush was still in power and an Illinois Senator was capturing the political field. Six months later, during my next visit, this once Senator was President-Elect. On my latest trip, earlier this year, President Trump was already sworn in and I arrived on the day that the TSA and ICE were announced to be expanded.

But has the America I have known changed? Unfortunately not, under Bush years I saw a suppressed underlying hatred of people on ‘many sides’, under Obama it was rising slowly through police shootings and protests, and now we have hit the boiling point. The subliminal hatred of Government and other races and social groups has become more prevalent, Neo-Nazi’s and White Supremacists have chosen to take the first step.

Identity politics has helped the implosion of the US political spectrum which has used peoples identity against them to join fringes. Now, I am not saying that white people were forced into this, because groups involved in this protest have been this way for a long time, for example David Duke and the KKK. Rather, if going down the same path, the everyday person, the rational American will be hurt.

The new America? (source: AP)

Now this does not excuse people on the left who have used this situation for their own political gain (this does not entail counter protestors on the day). Rather, there is a need for rational discussion and understanding.

The Left

Instead of suppressing ideas as being ‘racist’, ‘mysogynistic’ or ‘bigoted’ , we should try to understand and find common ground.

The Centre

Instead of remaining silent in everything, you should serve to mediate between people of different beliefs in discourse.

The Right

Instead of seeing yourself as marginalised, you should speak your mind and hear the stories of others to put your beliefs into perspective.

The people who are on the fringe, will likely stay there, but we should act to try and stop the implosion. Identity politics is not poison, but it is certainly not the antidote to our problem.