Identity Politics Is Destroying America
And we’re starting to see it over here
The prevalence of emotionally-charged political posts on social media in which dissenters are accused of being in league with the spawn of Satan/Karl Rove/Social Justice Warriors is leaking into real life and poisoning social discourse. Tonight I’m reluctant to open my Twitter account to check my notifications because I know what I’ll find there: some alt-right hypocrites who have forgotten that their hero Donald Trump has chosen former Department of Defense inspector general Joseph Schlitz to be an advisor on foreign policy; he’s a Holocaust denier. So what is this? A contest to see whose genocide was the worst? I’m not playing that game. In any case they’re picking on a television show host who became Progressive because — wait for it — he couldn’t bear how horrible his fellow conservatives had become. I’ve muted the conversation, I’ve seen enough. You may be interested to see that one of the participants is actually Welsh.
This is not the only instance of identity politics I’ve seen in which the object of the exercise was to divide and conquer, to make us pick a side and nail our colours to the mast. I’ve seen it on the left, too, but whether they like it or not I will not be climbing into any of the echo chambers and that’s final. You can never be sure of who is actually running these things. Authoritarianism is everybody’s problem, it’s not a left/right or progressive/conservative thing and I’ve got better things to do than hate individuals or groups on principle. Live and let live, damn it.
The Conspiracy theory wheel turns
I saw a funny meme today:
The point is, what goes around comes back around. The current liberal obsession is how the vote was stolen from poor Hillary Clinton, innocent victim of the nefarious Russian hackers. Give it a rest! Hillary would have continued the status quo, Trump promised to upend it, so the people who wanted hope and change voted for Trump. That many of his supporters are downright terrifying belies the fact that most of them just wanted to bring down the Establishment and reset the system. But it’s easier to blame racists, the Russians, the media, social media, fake news, and the FBI for killing Hillary’s presidential bid off than to accept responsibility for ignoring the needs of the people.
Binary politics: six of one and half a dozen of the other
The trouble with taking an overly simplified view of politics in which “left” or “right” equals “those who disagree with me” is that you end up creating an imaginary boogeyman in an image that has no basis in reality. People who blather on about America’s radical left either can’t or won’t accept that their own fringe views are not as mainstream as they believe they are. There are some nutty progressives around, I spend a great deal of time making fun of them. I’m no more keen on the big L liberals, and don’t get me started on the idealistic left that does exist; they’re more interested in advancing their ideology than in meeting people’s needs. The point is that, as much as I love to bash the fascist alt-right, I’ve got little time for their counterparts on the other end of the political see-saw; I can’t abide authoritarians, whatever flavour they come in.
Hand-wringers can’t see the wood for the trees
The hand-wringing from the liberal progressive side of the aisle is amusing if you’re in the right mood but their divorce from reality has resulted in a vacuum where the opposition to the new incumbent ought to be. As a result the echo chambers have splintered, as they are prone to do, and the factions are bashing each other with gleeful abandon instead of trying to work together to get us through the next few years. They can’t even agree on what got Trump elected: neoliberalism. They complain about the media but the solutions they suggest are basically censorship. The trouble with setting yourself up as the arbiter of what constitutes news is that people stop accepting your narrative when they find it doesn’t line up with the facts and go elsewhere for the news. Why do you think the fake sites’ stories were so widely shared?
Dissenters are not the enemy
When you resort to identity politics and treat people who disagree with you as the enemy and react hysterically to their every move, don’t be surprised if they go off and look for a media outlet that doesn’t insult them. Result: extremist publications gain traction while politically neutral websites are dismissed as “left wing” for criticising right wing politicians despite the fact that America hasn’t really got a left wing. Repetition really does work as a propaganda tool: even Politico accepts the false dichotomy that any opposition to the far right equals “the left.” No, it’s progressive. Liberals lean either left or right according to their prejudices; they’re not all progressive and both factions often clash. This is what happens when you throw nuance out of the window. It’s not just divisive, it’s dangerous.
The other side is not a homogenous mass
The term “conservative” has come to mean “reactionary nutbucket” as far as I’m concerned but I’m pleasantly surprised to see conservative media come out against Trump for behaving badly and letting the side down. Bloomberg is bashing him for breaking his promises. Reason is calling him a liar. RedState is calling him out for breaking the law as well as his promises. Heck, even Breitbart is having a go at him for not keeping his word. While National Review’s, erm, reviews are a bit mixed the Federalist’s are downright sycophantic. The funniest article I’ve seen there is the one asking the GOP (Republican party — Grand Old Party) to “drop identity politics.” The entire site is all about bashing the “lefty” strawman and the comments are comedy gold if you’re into cringe humour. This is why I don’t tend to read avowedly partisan outlets. It’s all kicking and screaming and hair-pulling and “No, U!” Mind you I’m not that keen on the Establishment press either, they’re all about maintaining a status quo that only really works for the very rich and privileged.
Meanwhile, on the progressive/liberal side the White Man’s Burden Brigade have been offering support to the vulnerable. Fear not, citizen, for Captain Political Correctness is going to save you with the Safety Pin Of Diversity. Go on, click the link and scroll down. Holy backlash! The bickering between the oppressed masses and the desperately right-on is hilarious.
What can we do?
Everywhere I see illiberal bullies planting their flag in the moral high ground in an effort to assert control over me or anyone else I call them on it. I don’t really know what else to do apart from promoting a centrist agenda in which we don’t allow ourselves to be dictated to by noisy pressure groups determined to stamp their image on us. What I do know is that if we all stand together no matter what we believe and refuse to be intimidated by the identity partisans we will prevail. We must. If we don’t, the madness will spread until it infects every aspect of our society, at which point there will be a battle for supremacy and it won’t make much of a difference because all authoritarians are bullies and they will find fault with anyone who doesn’t accept what they say without question. Is that the world you want to live in?