Charlottesville is the kind of America that identity politics is calling into being

Charlottesville is the kind of America that identity politics is calling into being, by Rod Dreher.

Finally, we on the Right have to start speaking out without fear against identity politics — and calling out people on the Left, especially those within institutions, for practicing it.

The alt-right has correctly identified a hypocritical double standard in American culture. It’s one that allows liberals and their favored minority groups to practice toxic identity politics — on campus, in the media, in corporate America, on the streets — while denying the possibility to whites and males. By speaking out against left-wing identity politics, and by explaining, over and over, why identity politics are wrong and destructive, conservatives strengthen their position in chastising white nationalists on the Right.

But none of this will matter at all as long as the Left refuses to oppose identity politics in its own ranks. As I keep saying here, you cannot have an identity politics of the Left without calling up the same thing on the Right. Left-liberals who want conservatives to stigmatize and denounce white nationalism, but conservatives who do so will be sneered at by white nationalists as dupes and fools who advocate disarmament in the face of racist, sexist forces of the Left.

When the Left:

  • indulges in rhetoric that demonizes whites — especially white males…
  • punishes white males who violate its own delicate speech taboos, while tolerating the same kind of rhetoric on its own side…
  • obsesses over ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities, but ignores the plight of poor and working-class whites…
  • institutionalizes demonization of white males in college classes, in political movements, in the media and elsewhere …
  • attributes moral status, and moral goodness, to persons based on their race, their sex, their sexual orientation, or any such thing
  • refuses to condemn the violent antifa protesters, and treats their behavior as no big deal …
  • refuses to stand firm against aggressive manifestations of illiberalism …

… it summons the demons of white nationalism.

Liberal scholar Mark Lilla argues that identity politics is a dead end. In this passage, he talks about how corrupting identity politics is to college students. In this passage, he invites his reader to consider a young, politics-minded student entering a liberal college environment today:

“She is at the age when the quest for meaning begins and in a place where her curiosity could be directed outward toward the larger world she will have to find a place in. Instead, she finds that she is being encouraged to plumb mainly herself, which seems an easier exercise. (Little does she know. …) She will first be taught that understanding herself depends on exploring the different aspects of her identity, something she now discovers she has. …

In these courses she also discovers a surprising and heartening fact: that although she may come from a comfortable, middle-class background, her identity confers on her the status of one of history’s victims. This discovery may then inspire her to join a campus groups that engages in movement work. The line between self-analysis and political action is now fully blurred. Her political interest will be real but circumscribed by the confines of her self-definition. Issues that penetrate those confines now take on looming importance and her position on them quickly becomes non-negotiable; those issues that don’t touch on her identity are not even perceived. Nor are the people affected by them.”

Notice the last two lines in that passage. It explains why those on the Left most committed to identity politics make themselves blind to those outside their circles. They have little to no idea how others perceive them. …

You cannot hold that identity politics is fine for non-white, LGBT, non-Christian people, but forbidden to those outside the circle of the Sacred Victims, without unavoidably providing a justification to all others in the polity to organize and advocate along the same lines. …

It is exactly at this point — construing left-wing hate as a virtue — that conservatives are tempted to stop caring what kind of violence the fascists visit on leftists. People on the Right who don’t sympathize with the [victims of] those thugs get so sick of this double standard by the media and other left-wing institutions that they may cease giving a damn what kind of damage the extremists do.

Few people on the Left want to hear any of this, because the ethos of the Left is so heavily characterized by identity politics, and the sense of righteousness on which it feeds. But they had better recognize that there are a lot of white males in this country, and it benefits no one to push them toward radicalization around race consciousness.

And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, because the left is not going to mend its ways any time soon. Brendan:

the left’s intellectual leadership is “all in” on identity politics. They see it as a moral imperative to achieving justice, and that abandoning it would lead to perpetuating injustice. You and I disagree with them, but they hold their views with a religious-like fervor, and these views constitute, in many cases, a core part of their self-esteem and self-conception as virtuous people. They will not abandon this — instead, in the wake of things like C’Ville and Portland, they will double down, and double down again. …

ID politics on the right is going to bloom. It’s just getting started, and the doubling down that is certain to come from the left will stoke that growth even further. It is a dysfunctional feedback loop, to be certain, but I do not think it can be stopped, because the academic/cultural “pump” that drives it will refuse to turn itself off. …

For people on the political right who are not Christians, the idea of railing against identity politics will increasingly seem to be folly. The reason is that, as you say, it is *powerful*. The last several federal elections have been won (and lost) on identity politics and “who can get out their (identity) base” better. This is real and raw power. And that is the greatest intoxicant known to man. Secular conservatives will be split between the “principled” ones who reject this, and the “pragmatic” (i.e., “want to win”) ones who accept it, for a time.

A polarized future ahead perhaps. Like Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore said: “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.”