Bill Shorten’s Identity Politics

Bill Shorten’s Identity Politics, by Keith Windshuttle.

Although identity politics originated in the 1970s among radical feminists, gays and black power advocates, the movement has taken a very ugly turn ever since Julia Gillard and the Greens formed a minority government in 2010. It has changed democratic politics for the worse, and freed its followers from any reticence about the level of abuse they hurl at opponents.

Identity politics today has overturned the principle, once taken for granted in Australia, that politics is more like sport than warfare. We once thought that, although the other team are your rivals, if you lose to them the proper response is to revise your tactics, train harder and try again next time. You could even have drinks with them after the game.

Today, interest group politics is more like a civil war in which the contenders want to destroy their opponents utterly, so they can never compete again. They prefer the other side dead.

Yet if opinion polls keep going the way they are, in two years time Australia will have a prime minister totally committed to identity politics. Capturing the larger identity groups by taking their side and talking their language has emerged as one of Bill Shorten’s major strategies to defeat the Turnbull government. Shorten rarely misses an opportunity to display his credentials to members of these groups.

In February, in a parliamentary speech about the Closing the Gap Program which measures the outcomes from the $30 billion a year now spent on Aboriginal people, Shorten said, with a straight face, “It’s time for truth-telling.” He then went on to enshrine in Hansard two of the most notorious myths about the treatment of Aboriginal people in early colonial times: “We poisoned the waterholes; we distributed blankets infected with diseases we knew would kill.”

Both tales are historical fictions. …

The evil of identity politics summed up:

Identity politics needs to be seen as the antithesis of democratic politics. Each identity group is taught that its members are victims of the wider society’s intolerance, and so separate rights and expensive special treatments are their cures.

Identity politics is the most divisive version of relationship a nation can have with its people. Each group pursues its own aims, irrespective of their influence on the national interest. Each group has its own values, its own set of moral principles, its own version of its rights. There are no universal rights.

This is a set of views deriving from multiculturalism and cultural relativism. Its logical conclusion is that child brides, pederasty, the subjugation of women, genital mutilation, and the killing of infidels are culturally, and thus morally, sanctioned. Each culture is entitled to its own “narratives” too, and so generates its own set of historical facts that sanction its sense of victimhood.

hat-tip Stephen Neil