This is funny:

Many thousands of women are expected to converge on the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. Jennifer Willis no longer plans to be one of them.

Ms. Willis, a 50-year-old wedding minister from South Carolina, had looked forward to taking her daughters to the march. Then she read a post on the Facebook page for the march that made her feel unwelcome because she is white.

The post, written by a black activist from Brooklyn who is a march volunteer, advised “white allies” to listen more and talk less. It also chided those who, it said, were only now waking up to racism because of the election.

“You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too,” read the post. “I was born scared.”

Stung by the tone, Ms. Willis canceled her trip.

“This is a women’s march,” she said. “We’re supposed to be allies in equal pay, marriage, adoption. Why is it now about, ‘White women don’t understand black women’?”

Read the whole thing. They’re eating each other alive. The activist who stung Jennifer Willis is ShiShi Rose, whose site is here. She does not appear to be a happy person.

I’m reminded of liberal professor Mark Lilla’s warning to his own side that identity politics means the death of liberalism. Excerpts:

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)

More:

When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.” Fox News and other conservative media outlets make great sport of mocking the “campus craziness” that surrounds such issues, and more often than not they are right to. Which only plays into the hands of populist demagogues who want to delegitimize learning in the eyes of those who have never set foot on a campus. How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them? How not to laugh along with those voters at the story of a University of Michigan prankster who wrote in “His Majesty”?

A reader sent in this good piece by Noah Rothman at Commentary, talking about the women’s march and identity politics. Rothman says Lilla is right, but it won’t do any good because the contemporary activist left doesn’t understand the world except through the lens of identity politics. Here, he talks about the chronic virtue-signaling on the left:

These are secret handshakes designed to enforce exclusivity. This is not the stuff that makes for a broad-based political movement, but that is not the point. The left allowed itself to be consumed by the myth that a racially diversifying America would provide liberals with an enduring majority. In embracing this fiction, the far left’s most committed identitarians have erected a noxious racial hierarchy. Members of the identity-first left don’t seem to see how their obsession with hereditary traits has stolen from them personal agency and collective political potency. Perhaps they haven’t noticed it yet. They will soon enough.

Read the whole thing.

Meryl Streep is not a brave liberal. Michael Eric Dyson is not a brave liberal. Mark Lilla is a brave liberal.

UPDATE: I didn’t have time to post this last bit before taking one of my kids to a sports event, but I want to add something that the activist and academic left cannot seem to understand: the principles they uphold justify the Alt-Right’s identity politics too. If you believe that it’s fine to advocate for political advantage for members of your tribe, based on nothing more than their racial, sexual, or gender identity, then you have no standing to fault Alt-Rightists for doing the same thing.

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77 Responses to The Left’s Identity Politics Poison

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  1. redfish says:

    UPDATE: I didn’t have time to post this last bit before taking one of my kids to a sports event, but I want to add something that the activist and academic left cannot seem to understand: the principles they uphold justify the Alt-Right’s identity politics too. If you believe that it’s fine to advocate for political advantage for members of your tribe, based on nothing more than their racial, sexual, or gender identity, then you have no standing to fault Alt-Rightists for doing the same thing.

    Hard to know who you’re referring to when you say the activist and academic left… but I’ve heard from people on the far left who are okay with what you’re describing. They think “at least its white people being honest”, versus normal white politics, which they think is just as racist but not in an upfront way. Just as in how the poster here has said, they believe “Colorblindness is… white supremacy.” They would prefer the mask being taken off.

    I think its more of an issue the center-left has to come to terms with.

    They might not agree with identity politics, but have not been willing to police the far-left. In contrast, the center-right has not only policed, but has often reactively over-policed — calling things racist, homophobic, misogynist that aren’t, while being shy about calling out bigotry on the left, the lack of symmetry here is why the alt-right exists… and that’s basically all there is to understand.

  2. Rich S says:

    Karl Keating says:

    ShiShi Rose certainly seems to be unhappy to be in America. If she ever chooses to emigrate, probably she should select a country other than Japan.

    In Japanese, “shishi” is baby talk for peeing.

    She can also write off any Portuguese speaking country for the same reason.

  3. Heartright says:

    Lord Acton overestimated the level of power needed to OD. Once you empower yourself even once, you become toxic.

  4. Heartright says:

    No Scotty, as a reliable Blue Dog you simply consistently toe the line and thus remain welcome.

    IF you manage to applaud Barack Obama then you cannot have too much moral spine left to discomfit anyone. Freely after Cornell West’s attack on Obama supporters.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency

  5. Rob G says:

    “The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects … Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.”

    Interesting. When a conservative refers to the “Will and Grace effect” howls of protest ensue, but when an SJW-type does the same the notion magically gains validity!

    How you all manage to simultaneously hate the 1% while gleefully lining up to kiss their arses is a trick worthy of David Copperfield.

  6. JohnE_o says:

    Social media is a wonderful tool for writers.

    One can pick out an example that supports ones thesis about a group and write a post around it as if that single example proved ones claims about the group in question.

    Very efficient.

  7. The Autist Formerly Known as "KD" says:

    I agree with Rod Dreher about the evils of identity politics. However, what I don’t understand about conservatives (and socialists who want to focus on class) is how they propose to put identity politics back in Pandora’s Box.

    The question is not identity politics, good or bad, it is what is fueling the expression of identity politics. For example, is mass immigration contributing to a greater sense of alienation and a search for identity? Is secularism contributing? Is global capitalism contributing?

    While there are people capitalizing on and manipulating others on the basis of identity politics, I think it is foolish not to consider the structural elements that give rise to identity politics.

    In the 19th century, Gumplowicz published his conflict-based sociology under the title Der Razzenkampf, or the struggle of the races, by which he understood race in terms of nationality, not a continental grouping.

    Perhaps we are not seeing a conflict of the races, but we are definitely witnessing a conflict of the identities. We must ask ourselves how conflicts get resolved, as they don’t get resolved by simply wishing them away. If you look at the groups derisively termed “snowflakes”, it is clear that they are holding onto historically-based grievances, all of which have some basis in reality.

    The unpopular truth is that the same is true of the Alt-Right, notwithstanding the MSM’s desire to deny it. You can see that heavy handed propaganda from above is not going to make the Alt-Right go away, it only strengthens it. So even if the same treatment was accorded the “snowflakes”, I don’t think the struggle would disappear.

  8. Cyrill says:

    You can’t have multiculturalism without some sort of identity politics. You have to pick one.

  9. Cyrill says:

    Sorry, I meant, you have to have both and you can’t just pick one.

  10. Andy Myatt says:

    Isn’t constantly railing against the “elites” identity politics?

  11. Kaushik Ghosh says:

    Most of us are NOT liberal. Including those who call themselves liberal. Liberalism should mean the ability to listen to the other point of view without having to shout him/ her down. To do that we require a lot of humility and self confidence. Most of us dont have that

  12. kgasmart says:

    When someone tells you that you have no right to speak, its time to speak up, loud.

    +1000

  13. John Lord says:

    We all know by now that the Left has gone big on identity politics and big on favoured minorities, though often these minorities may have little in common with each other or may even be totally incompatible – gay activism and conservative Islam would not make happy bedfellows. So its minorities for minorities sake and a minority is really only a mathematical quantity at the end of the day. More importantly, this obsession is purely a Western phenomenon. There is no major group in China or Japan or any non western country advocating they ‘diversify’ their societies. We in West have had, relative to the rest of the world, the most amazing run of prosperity and social stability and so progressives subliminally believe this is the the default position for all time and the West is indestructible no matter what social experiments they visit on her.

  14. Ben H says:

    I wouldn’t credit Lilla with bravery. Sure he’s willing to criticize the SJW ideology in general, but he’s not willing to criticize and in fact praises BLM. No matter how you cut it, but for the existence of BLM there would be be hundreds more people alive then are now.

    Basically he’s willing to take on the straw man (generic student) but not the powerful group with deep pockets and which owns plenty of journalists. Not that I condemn him for being prudent but it is not brave to do this.

  15. Mel says:

    My disillusionment with the left began during my first year of university. At the time the provincial Progressive Conservative government of Alberta (led by Ralph Klein) was cutting transfers to universities and to deal with burgeoning enrollments allowing tuition to increase. Of course there were protests and the naïve 18-year old that I was joined in, marching around the campus and then across the river (in Edmonton) to the provincial legislature. There we gathered to hear various speakers including some from the opposition Liberals (the more centrist party), the NDP (the more socialist one), and finally the education minister representing the government. The NDP speakers were listened to respectfully as they criticized the government. But when the Liberal representative began to speak some hard-core leftists started to yell, trying to drown him out, “Liberals are Tories too! Liberals are Tories too!” despite the fact that he was SUPPORTING their cause. Then, the education minister came out to respond but instead of listening to him, large parts of the crowd constantly interrupted him by yelling and screaming. I was close enough to see his expressions of exasperation and frustration, which mirrored my own feelings. So annoyed was I that I left, walked back to campus and have never since participated in such a protest. Good job you radical leftists!

  16. Aaron Gross says:

    I do think your update was a little lazy. The identitarian left and right are still vastly different. The former is committed to equality (as they see it) between groups, while the latter is explicitly opposed to group equality.

    In other words, the gulf separating the identitarian left and identitarian right—the question of equality—is the gulf separating left and right, period. That silly leftist identity rhetoric can’t justify the alt right.

  17. JD says:

    I believe what we have come to is a failure to communicate.
    We do not listen to each other except to pull out
    the one sound bite that will prove our own point of view.
    We have lost our curiosity, our openness to new ideas.

    When left and right speak the words just go past each other. We don’t listen to or read the whole thing.
    Think of Obama and “cling to guns or religion” and then
    go back and read at least the entire paragraph:

    “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    All we remember is the “cling to guns or religion” but when
    you go back and read that whole paragraph now, Obama
    really hit the nail on the head of what we saw in this
    most recent election.

    Or for example here are some quotes I read recently:

    “ITS DEFINITELY A TYPE OF MAGIC THAT HAPPENS THE WAY MINDSETS, INGRAINED IN US FOR SOMETIMES OUR ENTIRE LIVES, CAN BE CHANGED SIMPLE BECAUSE AN IDEA WAS PLANTED IN OUR HEADS. OR MAYBE EVEN BECAUSE A THOUGHT PATTERN OF OURS WAS QUESTIONED OR CHALLENGED. SOMETIMES THE WAY WE AS HUMANS HOLD ON TO WHAT’S EASY TO THINK IS A BIGGER PROBLEM THEN THE THOUGHT ITSELF. I WANT TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO EVOLVE. I WANT YOU TO THINK FOR YOURSELF.”

    “IN ORDER TO EVOLVE WE MUST LEARN NEW THINGS, HEAR DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, AND FIND A NEW WORLDLY NARRATIVE.”

    How does that sound to you?
    Any idea who wrote that?

  18. Brooklyn Grange says:

    Anti-white sentiment has been embedded in movements for “direct democracy” and “new democracy” for some time.

    I was first exposed to it while training to be a “facilitator” of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) General Assembly meetings in Zuccotti Park in 2011. My group’s trainer was a self-described “professor from a radical left Vermont College” who travelled the U.S. training activists to establish “direct democracy” movements.

    We were told that, as facilitators who, among other things, would maintain and update the written list of speakers who wished to address the public General Assembly, it was our responsibility to insure that “marginalized speakers” were given priority to address the General Assembly over “white, male speakers”. To facilitate this, we were to move marginalized speakers ahead of white, male speakers regardless of who signed up first to speak.

    I will never forget the reason the trainer (a white woman in her mid-thirties) asserted for the policy: “…because most white men don’t know when to stop talking.”

    As I looked for reactions from others in my group, I saw only heads bobbing up and down in affirmation. I completed the training, attended some future General Assembly meetings, but chose not to be a volunteer facilitator or to otherwise lend support to the nascent and doomed “direct democracy” movement.

    Eventually, OWS developed a catchy name for its transparently undemocratic policy: “Step Up, Step Back”.

    If you scrub to the 5 min. 45 sec. mark in the OWS Facilitator Training video to which I have linked, you can hear one trainer’s explanation of the policy:

    http://tinyurl.com/OWSgaTraining

  19. russ says:

    @Matt:

    It’s a bad time to be a White, male, heterosexual, Christian, business owner. You could be labeled a racist, sexist, bigoted, intolerant, greedy swine.

    Poppycock. We’re moving that way, but it’s important to remain in reality. It’s a better time to be a white-male-Christian business owner in Ferguson, MI, than it is to be a black citizen of Ferguson, MI. Engaging in hyperbole does not help open a discussion about the logical and philosophical problems entrenched in modern American society.

  20. Colorblindness is postmodern white supremacy.

    Attilla flatters himself by assuming the name of someone who, in historical context, was indeed a ruthless conqueror, but carried actual responsibilities for the welfare of his subordinate tribes and clans, if for no other reason than, without them, he would have been Yertle the Turtle, king of the mud.

    Colorblindness is a threat only to a species of poverty pimps who has to sustain a sense of grievance in order to justify their own fundraising, or smug sense of superiority.

    Making distinctions based on color was the invention of white supremacy, and white supremacy will die only when this prop is pulled out from under it.

  21. EarlyBird says:

    “By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good.”

    ^This.^

    As someone who has worked at UCLA for over 20 years, I have noticed over the years how leftist identity politics has completely consumed and shrunk people’s moral imaginations down to a simple question of whether or not one holds the proper ideas about the appropriate groups, holds the correct political positions, whether one is biased or not. That’s it. Simply make sure you’re not guilty of bigotry or any of its variants, and you can check “Be a Good Person. Live a Good Life,” off your to do list.

  22. artsandcrafts says:

    Mr. Dreher–I just got the Wal-Mart gift offer while trying to view this post. I haven’t gotten this before, although a few weeks ago I kept getting an appeal for donations to this site that would freeze the screen.

  23. Rob G says:

    “I have noticed over the years how leftist identity politics has completely consumed and shrunk people’s moral imaginations down to a simple question of whether or not one holds the proper ideas about the appropriate groups, holds the correct political positions, whether one is biased or not.”

    It’s a species of fundamentalism, and like with most fundamentalisms its adherents are necessarily blind to its dogmatic nature.

  24. Mia says:

    “When do people have TIME for this sort of stuff in university? What I remember is sleep, eat, go to class, study, homework, eat, more homework, sleep, then get up and do it all over again. I regularly pulled 100 hour weeks.”

    Maybe they have all of that time because they don’t do homework anymore. All that academic stuff is so 1980s, ya know? From the little I’ve seen, they seem instead to do exercises focusing on their own experiences as diverse specimens. I don’t remember doing those kinds of exercises when I was in school, but it is apparently the rage today.

  25. David Naas says:

    There’s an interesting discussion over on the Patheos Catholic channel going on regarding “Identity Politics”

    Naturally, the usual suspects showed up in the comment boxes.

  26. at the soundcheck says:

    Imo, it looks like some people are not allowed to understand. The fear is that popular culture might get (mis)appropriated.

    Ms. Willis is not allowed to understand. Rupi Kaur’s “middle-aged white woman” is not allowed to understand her poetry. David Cameron (born in the year 1966) is not allowed to understand, or God-forbid, like, lyrics by his contemporaries, The Smiths, according to Johnny Marr (who in musical terms is a genius, imo). I suggested the same for the writer/cast of Hamilton who lectured Pence for having the audacity to attend their play (but I got a bit chewed out for it on here). Just my opinion.

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