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The Curse Of Identity Politics

Charlottesville is the kind of America that identity politics is calling into being. It’s time for straight talk about that.

On the Right, the story is fairly straightforward. Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and their ilk have to be condemned in no uncertain terms, and marginalized. The president’s coy rhetoric, dancing around these people for fear of alienating them, has to end. (I don’t expect it to end, but others on the Right need to speak up to condemn him.)

It is not enough for conservative politicians and thought leaders to condemn these incidents. In their rhetoric, they need to start criticizing the principles of identity politics, across the board. They should emphasize what unites us as Americans. And this: pastors and other leaders within the church have to start teaching clearly and directly on this front. More than that, they have to recognize that racial tribalism is a strong god — a false one, but a strong one. The mild, therapeutic God that they preach, teach, and proclaim is weak in the face of it. Don’t misunderstand: I’m not talking about the actual God of the Bible. I’m talking about the way our priests, pastors, religious teachers, and families present Him to their flocks — especially their young men.

There’s a great book coming out in November — oh, how I wish it were available now! — called God Is Not Nice [1], by the Catholic theologian and college professor Ulrich Lehner. It’s a shocking title, but it’s meant to be: Lehner wants to wake up the church. It’s a broadside against Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, and the way every institution in our culture — including many churches and families — think of God (“as some kind of divine therapist … a psychiatrist who treats each of his patients the same way, a friend whom we can call in times of need”).

“Why change your life for such a God?” Lehner asks. “He makes no demands.”

Lehner writes that “we all need the vaccine of knowing the true transforming and mysterious character of God: the God who shows up in burning bushes, speaks through donkeys, drives demons into pigs, throws Saul to the ground, and appears to St. Francis. It’s only this God who has the power to challenged us, change us, and make our lives dangerous. He sweeps us into a great adventure that will make us into different people.”

Christians: if you don’t want to lose your sons to the false god of white nationalism, then you had better introduce them (and yourselves) to the God of the Bible, who is rather different from the God of the comfortable American middle class.

It is widely acknowledged among conservative Christians today that the white church in the South failed terribly in the civil rights era. The failure was not primarily because they stood for white supremacy (though some did). The failure was mostly because the churches did not preach against white supremacy, preferring instead to stay neutral, and cultivate an ethos that was suited to supporting the Southern white middle class at prayer.

Today, I am aware of young white men who attend comfortable middle-class churches, but who identify as white nationalists. I doubt very much their parents or their pastors know. But it’s happening. These aren’t young men who have been downtrodden by society; that would at least give some sort of social and economic rationale for their race radicalism. These are relatively privileged young men. Why do they find no anchor in the church? Why is the god of racial nationalism more appealing to them than the God of the Bible?

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 — it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left punishes white males who violate its own delicate speech taboos, while tolerating the same kind of rhetoric on its own side, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left obsesses over ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities, but ignores the plight of poor and working-class whites, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left institutionalizes demonization of white males in college classes, in political movements, in the media and elsewhere, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left attributes moral status, and moral goodness, to persons based on their race, their sex, their sexual orientation, or any such thing, it summons up the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left refuses to condemn the violent antifa protesters, and treats their behavior as no big deal, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left refuses to stand firm against aggressive manifestations of illiberalism — like we have seen over the past several years on certain college campuses — it summons the demons of white nationalism.

When the Left encourages within its ranks identification as a victim, and stirs up political passions based on perception that one is a victim of other groups in society, it summons the demons of white nationalism.

And on and on. The problem is not pointing out perceived injustices and inequities that afflict people of particular groups. This is a normal part of politics. The problem is in teaching people to identify passionately and wholly with their own tribe, to think of themselves and others in their tribe as innocent victims of the Enemy, and to conflate the interest of their tribe with the common good. In his new book The Once And Future Liberal [2], the 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. An identity which, she also learns, has already been largely shaped for her by various social and political forces. This is an important lesson, from which she is likely to draw the conclusion that the aim of education is not to progressively become a self through engagement with the wider world. Rather, one engages with the world and particularly politics for the limited aim of understanding and affirming what one already is.

And so she begins. She takes classes where she reads histories of the movements related to whatever she decides her identity is, and reads authors who share that identity. (Given that this is also an age of sexual exploration, gender studies will hold a particular attraction.) 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. The kind of identity politics dramas that work on college campuses or other highly liberal polities are not only ineffective in more moderate to conservative polities, they are positively harmful. Again: 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.

And there’s this:

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Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is where ordinary liberals go off the rails. This attitude justifies violence as long as it’s being committed by people whose cause they agree with, against people whose cause they hate. 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 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. Thirty-one percent of the US population is white and male. The percentage of whites relative to non-whites is declining, and demographers expect the US to become a majority-minority country in the 2040s. If America is going to manage this transition into greater pluralism without a rise in racial hatred and violence, people on both the Left and the Right have to abandon identity politics, and stigmatize it.

We had better find some other way to bind Americans together, and to conceive of a common good, or what happened in Charlottesville is a picture of our nation’s future. Given how both parties, and the strongest forces in American culture, have formed the moral imagination of all Americans around the individual Self and its desires, I have my doubts as to whether or not we can pull it off. But if we don’t try, the alternative is Charlottesville, and beyond that, Yugoslavia as it broke apart.

If you think the responsibility for preventing that future is exclusively on the Left or exclusively on the Right, you’re lying to yourself, and not without consequence.

UPDATE: Philadelphia’s Catholic Archbishop, Charles Chaput, gets it right in his public statement:

Racism is a poison of the soul. It’s the ugly, original sin of our country, an illness that has never fully healed. Blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity. Thus the wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville this weekend is well warranted. We especially need to pray for those injured in the violence.

But we need more than pious public statements. If our anger today is just another mental virus displaced tomorrow by the next distraction or outrage we find in the media, nothing will change. Charlottesville matters. It’s a snapshot of our public unraveling into real hatreds brutally expressed; a collapse of restraint and mutual respect now taking place across the country. We need to keep the images of Charlottesville alive in our memories. If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts, and an insistence on the same in others. That may sound simple. But the history of our nation and its tortured attitudes toward race proves exactly the opposite.

UPDATE.2: Great comment from reader Brendan:

I agree with the diagnosis of the problem, but I do not think that identity politics are going away, for several reasons.

The first, and most important/intractable, is that 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.

Second, as you rightly say, because of my first point, 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.

Third, for people on the political right who are not Christians (more on us [Christians] below), 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. In the medium term, the folks who want to win will prevail (the raison d’etre of any political movement, after all, is to win) and they will increasingly embrace this, because it will be obvious that it is the only way to consistently challenge the left in federal elections, especially as we keep on importing left wing voters that continue to grow the left’s identitarian base.

For Christians the issue is easy, I think. Identity politics are evil and divisive and do not reflect the will of God, whether you are white, black, straight, gay or what have you. It is evil. But this requires a perspective that is aloof from “winning”, which I think is the appropriate perspective for Christians to have politically, anyway. We will know that our principled stand is right, morally, but we will also know that it dooms us to totalitarian identity politics of the left which will likely seek to utterly eliminate us at some stage. This is the difficulty of the Christian walk, I think, in this time, and one of the reasons why we need to have something like the BenOp, because in order to embrace this path of principled defeat, and even perhaps annihilation, we will need to be strong in an interior sense, personally, as individuals — much stronger than most of us are today.

I appreciate you saying this, Brendan. Like you, I am quite pessimistic that identity politics will go away. I was going to save that for another post. I think if we are going to avoid some terrible kind of conflagration in the next decade or two, we need to come together to do the things that I’m talking about in this post. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I hope I’m wrong.

185 Comments (Open | Close)

185 Comments To "The Curse Of Identity Politics"

#1 Comment By Suzanne Nussbaum On August 14, 2017 @ 11:49 am

I’m always surprised when I see the “three-fifths of a person” referenced, as one of the great sins against fairness and equality in our history.

After all, it was the Southern white slave-owners who wanted the black people counted fully (because this would have increased their proportional representation in Congress).

Discounting their numbers (“three-fifths”) was a compromise to keep North and South together in that uneasy Union.

Would it have been better to count the number of blacks honestly, and thus increase the political power of the Southern states in which blacks were held in great number, as slaves?

#2 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 14, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

And as a white person, I am ashamed of being white and wish only to be annihilated. I am white and there’s nothing good in me at all.

So I will continue to apologize for my existence.

Too bad you continue to choose to think of yourself as “white.”

A waste of breath. They won’t listen and they won’t care.

So what? They’ll die of shock when they start to realize we don’t care if they care or not. They just ain’t all that.

Racism is part of our culture. Because MLK, or LBJ, worked to legislate the disappearance, it unfortunately caused more problems than it solved. Issue we deal with today.

A serious mislocation. Because racism had been instilled, mandated, promulgated, enforced by legislation, it was absolutely essential to remove that legislation, and its legacy. It remains true that reversing the legislative mandate and even compensating for it can’t change every human thought or impulse. Those who think it should are of course sadly disappointed.

Racism is part of our culture, and seeking a group identity may be part of our nature, but the specific racism that is part of our culture is not part of our nature, its a scam.

Yes, white people sinned against people of color in the forms of American slavery, the Jim Crow South and our treatment of Native Americans.

Not true. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, the dark forces that destroyed you have a name, a face, and an address. There was not entity called “white people” who perpetrated anything.

“Identity politics does not preclude the articulation of a common good or the possibility of grace.

Oh, I think it does. Anything that lends credibility to the delusion of “race” is perpetuating racism, including, but not limited to, provoking an avoidable backlash. Nothing would insult Nazis or Ku Kluxers more than telling them “You’re not white.” And then backing it up with Biblical and historical references. (Probably most of them have at least one African ancestor to, as do most Americans with any ancestry predating the Civil War.)

#3 Comment By amhixson On August 14, 2017 @ 12:22 pm

Karl Keating: In the U.S., the antagonistic groups are mixed together. We may have red states and blue states, but we have no states that are 90% red or 90% blue.

If things collapse, there will be no way to pull back behind meaningful lines.

Give it time. As we approach any hypothetical collapse, “The Big Sort” effect will accelerate and parts of the country will become more and more ideologically homogeneous. That said, I doubt that any state will reach 90% either way. 70% is probably the upper end of what’s realistic. Those who find themselves in the ideological minority will have to choose what they value more–their ideology or their local attachments–stay or relocate accordingly, and accept the consequences.

Keep in mind, also, two other factors. First, that currently 40-45% of eligible voters don’t vote even in presidential election years. In any breakup scenario, these people are wild cards. As the political environment deteriorates, they may “activate” or they may continue not to care and just follow their own perceived self-interest. Second, in any non-negotiated collapse scenario, the fragmentation isn’t going to stop with Red and Blue states. Regional, cultural identities will return to the fore and lead to an additional dimension of fracturing. (In a potential case of historical irony, the South with its well-established sense of regional identity could prove to be the most stable and cohesive of these blocs.)

This is why the Divorce must Be Negotiated. Instead of waiting for the car to crash, steer into the skid now. Re-federate the country. Redistribute power to the states. Push the most contentious domestic policy fights out of Washington. Start to relieve some of the pressure.

Sadists and sociopaths salivate at the prospect of a second Civil War and the opportunity to slaughter their perceived enemies on the other side. They’re evil, insane, and naive.
It doesn’t have to be that way, and I’d rather deny their bloodlust.

Let’s negotiate a way out now. Will it suck? Yes. Will it be a mind-numbing, seemingly interminable political slog? Yes. Will most people find it immensely dissatisfying? Yes. But, a cold peace is better than a hot war.

#4 Comment By Luke On August 14, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

>> On the Right, the story is fairly straightforward. Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and their ilk have to be condemned in no uncertain terms, and marginalized. <<

But these aren't truly the Right. They more accurately belong to the radical Left. National Socialism/Nazism/Communism are all kinsmen from the Left. And as a peace-loving conservative Christian American, I cannot condemn them when those in the media tie them to patriotic Americans like me. So when it's time to condemn and separate ourselves from them, we must be very careful to make the necessary distinctions. Else we're doing injustice, and injustice hurts everyone.

#5 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 14, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

George Crosley: I will continue to pay a heavy load in federal taxes to support the oh-so-successful wealth-transfer programs that have been in place since LBJ’s Great Society.

America’s Richest Families (2017), political affiliation as of 2014.

#1 Walton family $130 B 7 Wal-Mart Bentonville, AR
#2 Koch family $82 B 4 diversified Wichita, KS
#3 Mars family $78 B 3 candy McLean, VA
#4 Cargill-MacMillan family $49 B 23 (EST.) Cargill Inc. Minneapolis, MN
#5 Cox family $41 B 5 media Atlanta, GA
#6 S.C. Johnson family $30 B 13 (EST.) cleaning products Racine, WI
#7 Pritzker family $29 B 13 hotels, investments Chicago, IL
#8 (Edward) Johnson family $28.5 B 4 money management Boston, MA
#9 Hearst family $28 B 67 Hearst Corp. New York, NY
#10 Duncan family $21.5 B 4 pipelines Houston, TX
#11 Newhouse family $18.5 B 3 magazines, newspapers New York, NY
#12 Lauder family $17.9 B 6 Estee Lauder New York, NY
#13 Dorrance family $17.1 B 11 (EST.) Campbell Soup Co. Camden, NJ
#14 Ziff family $14.4 B 3 publishing New York, NY
#15 Du Pont family $14.3 B 3,500 (EST.) DuPont Wilmington, DE
#16 Goldman family $13.7 B 7 real estate New York City area, NY
Not listed
#16 Hunt family $13.7 B 33 oil Dallas, TX
#18 Busch family $13.4 B 30 (EST.) Anheuser-Busch St. Louis, MO
#19 Sackler family $13 B 20 (EST.) pain medicines Stamford, CT
Not listed
#20 Brown family $12.3 B 25 (EST.) liquor Louisville, KY
#21 Marshall family $12 B 3 (EST.) diversified Dallas, TX
Not listed
#22 Mellon family $11.5 B 200 (EST.) banking Pittsburgh, PA
#23 Butt family $11 B 5 supermarkets San Antonio, TX
#23 Rockefeller family $11 B 174 oil New York, NY
#25 Gallo family $10.7 B 17 (EST.) wine, liquor Modesto, CA

[6]. (2014)

One caveat: Some of these family fortunes are shared among dozens or even hundreds of people, so we were only able to track political donations of a subset of prominent members.

1. Walton – Republican

2. Koch – Republican

3. Mars – Republican

4. Cargill-MacMillan – Republican

5. Johnson (Fidelity) – Republican

6. Hearst – Republican

7. Cox – Democrat

8. Pritzker – Both

9. Johnson (S.C. Johnson) – Republican

10. Duncan – Rep

11. Newhouse – Dem

12. Lauder – Both

13. Du Pont – Rep

14. Hunt – Rep

15. Ziff – Both

16. Johnson (Franklin Templeton) – Rep

17. Busch – Both

18. Dorrance – Both

19. Mellon – Rep

20. Brown – Both

21. Carlson – Both

22. Fisher – REp

23. Butt – Dem

24. Rockefeller – Both

25. Gallo – Dem

#6 Comment By JonF On August 14, 2017 @ 12:36 pm

M_young, you almost entirely miss my point– which was indeed that neither McCain nor Romney (nor either Bush*, nor Reagan nor Dole nor Mr. Perot) were running on an identity politics platform– and all of them would have been happy to have any and all non-white votes, and even made some attempts (albeit ham-handed at times) to appeal to those voters. Please note that I am giving all those gentlemen , and assorted Republican office-seekers at other levels, their due by taking them at their own words, and not accusing them, of “dog whistles” and hidden agendas and the like. So I repeat: the elections held in my life time have NOT been won or lost on identity politics. They have been won or lost mainly on practical concerns with the economy (first and foremost), war and peace, crime, public dysfunction or competency, and assorted moral issues– and those cut right across every major identity. The last major White Power candidate was George Wallace (who, being a Christian, finally, before he was an ideologue ultimately repented of his extremism). There has never been a serious Black Power candidate for reasons of arithmetic that should be obvious. Obama’s connections to that sort of thing were so tenuous he was criticized as inauthentically black (being half white and having grown up in a solidly upper middle class household) in more stentorian circles.

* George W Bush, amid many errors and failures, nonetheless flatly refused to play the card of anti-Muslim bigotry after 9-11, and he likewise extended himself to Hispanic people.

#7 Comment By educationrealist On August 14, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

“Discounting their numbers (“three-fifths”) was a compromise to keep North and South together in that uneasy Union.”

Exactly. They counted white women entirely, but they didn’t get the vote and while they weren’t anything approaching chattel slaves, they didn’t have many rights. White men who didn’t own property were counted, but didn’t get the vote.

Free blacks who owned property, on the other hand, had voting rights in many northern states, although they were limited.

So in terms of the franchise:
White men owning property
Free blacks owning property (in some states)

That was it for most states until the property requirements were removed in the 1830s. So white men got universal suffrage in the US just 30 years before black men did.

The best way to completely deny white southern slave power would have been to not count slaves at all. Jefferson wouldn’t have been elected in 1800, if so.

#8 Comment By Noah172 On August 14, 2017 @ 1:43 pm

Franklin Evans:

Your list is highly and, I think, deliberately misleading. It excludes wealthy individuals (Gates, Buffett, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Soros, Adelson, Bloomberg, and many others), many of whom are significant political players. It gives no indication of the degree of political involvement of these families, or how much they donate. (The Pritzkers, e.g., were multi-million-dollar donors to Hillary’s SuperPAC Priorities USA, and have long been close to Obama since his rise through Chicago politics; how much have they ever given to Republicans, and when?) The list also overlooks its members ideological nuance: the Kochs are libertarians who detest Donald Trump, and I wonder how many of the other Republicans gave to Jeb.

#9 Comment By byomtov On August 14, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

Mr. Dreher,

Who do you think created “identity politics?” Who decided that some groups, identified by race or gender or sexual orientation, ought to enjoy privileges denied non-members?

Who was it who was taught, “to identify passionately and wholly with their own tribe?”

In case you don’t know, and you seem not to, it was the right.

#10 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 14, 2017 @ 2:47 pm


My list — found via a simple search, gleaned from Forbes Magazine website — is deliberately without further comment. I had and have no ulterior motives in posting it.

The clarifying response is that “wealth redistribution” has benefited only the already wealthy, who then (as you noted, in varying ways and degrees) use it to influence politicians.

In short, our fellow reader’s “heavy load of federal taxes” has gone almost exclusively to those who then use them to further promote their benefits and privileges.

The exclusions are merely due to an arbitrary stopping point of the top 25 on the lists. Readers are encouraged to do their own searching and research.

Your point is well taken, nonetheless.

#11 Comment By Martin Knight On August 14, 2017 @ 3:44 pm

Franklin Evans.

Am I to understand that you think a majority of whites, or even up to 5% of whites are working in their parents’ businesses?

#12 Comment By Mia On August 14, 2017 @ 4:44 pm

“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.”

A couple of things come to mind as I read this statement. One is that it’s not really identity politics that we’re witnessing. We have the Red Guard and Neo-Nazis, though some people debate that the Nazis were actually leftists. Even so, when you overlay the situation with the historical political affiliations they resemble or channel, it changes the meaning a bit. Also, I can’t help but note that all of this identity politics is typically “appropriative” since that is such a favorite term these days. It seems both sides, POC and whites carrying on like this are usually affluent and certainly not without life’s advantages, and many haven’t had anything truly terrible happen to them in their lives…so they have to turn to collectivism to “appropriate” other people’s suffering in order to become righteous and push ahead their political cause. I think we need to talk about the need here for drama in the lives of some of these kids, who seem to be too bored and full of ennui to resist toxic philosophies.

Now, the other thing that comes to mind is Melanie Phillips’ old Red-Black or Red-Black-Black Alliance that she talked about some years ago. This was the Communist-Islamist(-Neo-Nazi alliance that was pushing alot of the disruption. I went to look up some explanation of this and saw that she has a recent article updating this to the Red-Black-Green alliance. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ll leave links here so people can see how this fits into the current polarization of the west.


This first link describes her thesis in her book Londonistan. But this second one, I need to really dig into to see where she has taken the idea since her initial discussion.


#13 Comment By Thrice A Viking On August 14, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

Anna Duarte, there are quite a few people saying that Islamic terrorism is the fault of the West, and most of them are on the “Left”. So I’m not sure what your point is?

#14 Comment By John of Dorset On August 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Alexander Zivic,

Of course the West hasn’t eradicated racialism and (genuine) bigotry, because you can’t do it. It is Utopian to try. Still, the West, including America, is by far the least racialist and bigoted part of the world, and the least so in history. I would go so far to say that we have addressed racialism and bigotry enough, and they are relatively minor issue in our society, contrary to the constant navel gazing and noise coming from certain sections of the left.

#15 Comment By tiredofhypocrisy On August 14, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

Just Another Bystander:

I’m not really sure your arguments are meaningful. If you took those arguments to Nigeria or Liberia or the Congo or Niger or Egypt you wouldn’t get much traction. Blacks in this country are far better off than anywhere in the world. I admit, though, that had they been here as a majority when the country was started and had written the Constitution and the Declaration, we never would have become who we became – in fact, the King of England would most certainly have chopped some heads off. That goes for any other cultural group of people in the world. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists – none of those people as a great majority at our founding would have given the earth the country our ancestors did. No freedoms would have existed – none of what our ancestors had. Only the predominantly Protestant Christians who were the progeny of Western Civilization would have done so and did so. The mistake was slavery. Can we turn the clock back and leave those slaves unpurchased from the warring tribes who sold them? Obviously not. Yes, there were some free blacks here at the founding and they must, to some degree represent some elite sector of the black society, but it is not my understanding that there were many here at the time – free that is. We have given our lives and fought our brothers in an effort to give justice to the black man who was brought here against his or her will. We don’t see blacks making demands of Ghana, Mali or other countries from whence they were purchased as slaves – it is just in this country now that complaints are made. The most powerful man in the world for 8 long years was a black man who was elected with the support of many whites. And yet more arguments are made to say that blacks aren’t equal. I think that blacks are about 12 percent of the population and they have 18 percent of all federal jobs. I presume that includes the benefits and retirements that accompany federal jobs. 41 percent of the black population receives some form of government assistance in the form of welfarce benefits. They are not required to work for those benefits. No, your arguments don’t really resonate with me as much as you would like. I know a man who was born and raised in a small town in which blacks lived in one area and whites in another. He went on to school to study medicine. His father was a pharmacist. When banks would not give loans to blacks due to their lack of capital they would often seek the aid of the man’s father who would always do what he could. He didn’t have money to give away – it was money he had for his family – but he didn’t take advantage. He was a deacon in his church and served on the town council, and he worked 6 days per week and a couple of hours on Sunday to serve the needs of any townspeople who might need medicine. When he died, a great number of the blacks in that town did the unheard of and put on their very best clothes and walked to the white side of town into the neighborhoods and stood in the street in front of his house and friends and family mourned inside to acknowledge not only the good he had done for them, but the good man that he was. They never cried to him, but he was a man of virtue. From that same town that the pharmacist’s son came from and became a doctor, was the black undertaker. To make ends meet he wouldn’t bury the blacks unless they had paid for the services in advance. But from that man came a child who later went to medical school at one of the Ivy league schools, and who later practiced in the office of the man whose father had helped so many blacks throughout the years. Truly, when that happened one could see that America had changed. But we have changed since then – for the worse in many ways. The blacks are abusive and demanding and denigrate the culture of this great nation. The kill eachother in the cities and no one can do a thing to stop them. They are emotionally loose cannons, and, worse, they are the unwitting soldiers of the elite progressive movement which wishes to do away with God and change this country and world. They claim the greatest sin is in the emotional instability they have at being forced(!) to look at state of Robert E. Lee or someone and cower in fear or smolder in anger. Those are personal problems that they don’t know how to deal with and they want to blame everyone else. I don’t apologize for being white and I don’t apologize for any wrongs my ancestors may have done. They are responsible for their wrongs. Mamy of the black population today – led by the NAACP and some elite progressive leaders – are turning against everything and blaming whites for any condition that could make them feel inferior. Soon there won’t be any conditions left to blame, and whites and others productive successful people with move out and on as is their wont and many of these blacks or their children will be left with what amounts to another Nigeria or Liberia or Haiti. Who will they blame then?

#16 Comment By Ellimist000 On August 14, 2017 @ 7:42 pm


“But these aren’t truly the Right. They more accurately belong to the radical Left. National Socialism/Nazism/Communism are all kinsmen from the Left.”

LOL “Left=all the icky things I don’t like”. Why don’t you just go ahead and throw Satan in there too, why don’tcha?

Now, you would be right to say that the Deplorables aren’t conservative, as they are very, very radical. But then, “not conservative” includes much of the American right these days-including anyone who wants to legislate Christianity into having an impact on our laws in a significantly different way than in the past 40 years.

#17 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 14, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

“… bringing up leftist violence, bringing up identity politics of the Left, is a false equivalence. No one makes anyone join the Klan, or to join a neo-Nazi rally. We now have the advantage of history. People have a choice; despite whatever circumstances.”

People decide to become violent antifa SJW too; violence is always equivalent when the actions taken are to physically assault, threaten or kill another human being. It’s not self-defense to go masked looking to get into a fight in the streets.

If you demonize others, don’t be surprised when they respond in kind.

#18 Comment By Ben H On August 14, 2017 @ 8:58 pm

“…I am quite pessimistic that identity politics will go away.”

There’s no way it is going away. The bigshots have chosen it as a mechanism to occupy the rest (divide) of us while they loot the place (conquer).

#19 Comment By Fred H On August 14, 2017 @ 9:17 pm

We must remember though that identity politics existed for a long time before the civil rights and voting rights acts of the 60s and the political correctness of later years. How else can you characterize not letting citizens vote, get jobs, buy homes, etc based on the color of their skin?

#20 Comment By Jon S On August 15, 2017 @ 1:59 am

The bombing of Dresden was violent, horrific and powered by hate. But who among us would say it wasn’t necessary, if not justified? The equivalency argument being made does injustice to the very concerns non-bigoted conservatives have. Purge yourselves of this white nationalism cancer.

#21 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 15, 2017 @ 10:29 am

Martin Knight,

I have direct knowledge at the anecdotal level, and indirect professional knowledge of many small- and medium-sized businesses during the late 70s and 80s. Nepotism and favoritism was rampant, with neither respect for nor regard for relative qualification for a position.

My professional knowledge included EEOC stats and actions on job discrimination claims, as well as the obligation to both read and comprehend federal regulations for various employment issues.

Blanket claims on both sides are invalid, but there’s plenty of evidence to show for the practices that Affirmative Action was intended to stop.

#22 Comment By Cjones1 On August 15, 2017 @ 11:05 am

Red ants attack black ants. That’s what they do!
How many youth seek some cause to rally behind and regret their choices as the counsel of years grants wisdom and perspective.
I well remember the myriad of liberation movements and race based groups. The worst case race based and social justice groups of the 29th Century were for the most part in the Socialist camp and are responsible for the slaughter, enslavement, imprisonment, and forced indoctrination of over a hundred million people.
R.E.Lee was a son of Virginia, Confederate, and a Democrat in good standing. Democrats North and South threatened to break up unless the compromises were made on retaining the Bible sanctioned institution of slavery. After the Civil War, the party instituted segregation that continued into my lifetime. In the move to remove Confederate flags, statues, and monuments, I will never forget how the Democratic party sustained the practice of racist thought and find it ironic that they haven’t changed the name of their party.
The Social justice warriors and identity politics gangs that seek to silence dialog and construct a neo-moral paradigm reminiscent of the repressive regimes of the 20th Century present the greatest threat with their hordes of intolerant demagogues.
Racism and sexism are passe – unless you happen to be old school.
It is unfortunate that a wannabe, Comicon, racist inspired young man who attacked his perceived enemies with his car resulting in murder and mayhem.
As the President noted, too many violent mobs are running the streets using racism, social justice, and identity politics to destroy civility. Politicians and pundits were quick to criticize his quick remarks at a recent event signing a bill to improve health care for our veterans. The Democratic Mayor of Charlottesville and Governor of Virginia lost control of the Confederate statue controversy resulting in a tragedy. Overreaction is not the answer or excuse to go after the President in another partisan, misguided, smear campaign.
The truth and perspective will eventually be revealed.

#23 Comment By Seamus On August 15, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

“R.E.Lee was a son of Virginia, Confederate, and a Democrat in good standing.”

I doubt that. As a career Army officer, he was pretty apolitical, but if I had to guess, I’d guess that his political leanings were more toward the Whig than the Democratic side. His father, whom he idolized, was a staunch Federalist and supporter of President Washington, and young Robert shows every sign of sharing his father’s small-f federalist leanings, which after the formation of the second party system tended to mean Whig.

#24 Comment By John of Dorset On August 15, 2017 @ 6:44 pm


“But who among us would say it wasn’t necessary, if not justified?”

Actually, I think it is always wrong to target civilians. Collateral may be a necessary evil, as long as sufficient precaution is taken, but I believe it is not permissible to attack civilians deliberately.

#25 Comment By Martin Knight On August 16, 2017 @ 7:58 am

Franklin Evans.

First of all, the civility of your response is much appreciated.

However, I don’t think I missed anything. Indeed, I think my point went over your head.

It doesn’t matter what special hardship and discrimination was faced by African Americans, Hispanics, etc. in the past, and whether the vestiges still remain. I’m black myself so I don’t need reminding that people of color were hard done by for centuries in America.

But the typical white individual does not (and yes, should not) feel any personal responsibility for it and will resent and resist any effort to exact retribution, penalization or handicapping of their family and their friends for their supposed “white privilege”.

Even among the “wokest” white liberals, the overwhelming majority will not instruct their children to decline the offer from Harvard as some form of atonement. Neither would they decline a promotion at work or a bonus because they don’t want to perpetuate “white privilege”.

The point is that you will never convince that Bulgarian immigrant’s grandson whose child is denied admission to a good university despite a 3.96 GPA (while a Ghanian immigrant doctor’s child with a 3.32 GPA is admitted) that the university’s decision is just because of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, etc.

And that’s even if he did get his job by being the boss’s son.

Speaking of which, only a tiny miniscule percentage of working people – even white people – got their jobs by being the owner’s son or daughter. The typical white kid is *not* the inheritor of a “seat of power in his parent’s business.”

The point is that the response to the white supremacist identity politics of the past that penalized all non-whites, women, etc. is not to adopt identity politics that seeks to silence, handicap, punish, disadvantage whites, men, cisgendered people, etc. It’s to abandon identity politics altogether.

#26 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 16, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

Martin Knight,

I’m grateful for your acknowledgment of my civility. I make a conscious effort, I don’t always succeed, but I hope others will follow suit.

We are circling around a common ground. I have a rather esoteric view, having been professionally involved with the IRS, EEOC and Dept. of Labor (consultant to employers and their accountants and attorneys). The statistics are very clear, there’s no focus on family affiliation, it was and still is very common. Favoritism covers a lot of ground, including race and ethnicity.

In the end, you do make a critical point. The vast majority of people will either lack or distrust the view I bring to the discussion, and just see their local impacts. Abandoning identity politics would be ideal, but well nigh impossible. It can be devalued and minimized, but only with an heroic effort.

#27 Comment By David Farrar On August 16, 2017 @ 4:03 pm

Pres. Trump was right, as the LA Times [http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-charlottesville-witnesses-20170815-story.html] is now reporting: The Antifa thugs obstructed the Unite-The-Right’s permitted right to enter the park by blocking all the park’s entrances, forcing a confrontaton.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 16, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

I have no truck with the notion of “white privilege,” but there are some steps that could and should be taken, very carefully, plotting a very precise and nuanced course, to compensate for the very real gaps in transmission of financial and social capital from generation to generation, particularly with regard to Americans of African descent.

It should he financed by a progressive income tax, since the concentrations of wealth incorporate most of the money made off the emiseration of others. There are parallels to restoration of property to descendants of Jews whose bank accounts “disappeared” after they were sent to Auschwitz.

#29 Comment By Martin Knight On August 17, 2017 @ 9:39 am

Franklin Evans.

On the civility front; ditto. Especially on sometimes not being successful. The truly tragic thing is that it has come to a point that it is no longer sonething we take for granted.

Anyway, I cannot fault your point on nepotism and favoritism. We all know the guy (or gal) who was hired because family ties and friendships gave him a leg-up on other applicants.

One can’t also ignore the possibility of the Italian-American (for example) hiring manager being more positively disposed toward toward people with last names like Addonizio and Stefanelli.

Anecdotally, I have a friend that got the job, helped in no insignificant part by the fact that he played for his University’s basketball team, which, as it turned out, so did a senior member of the panel interviewing him. As it happens, my friend is black and his benefactor is a white man.

Which is what worries me in many ways about this new devotion to identity politics on the Left; along with its very aggressive policing of interracial exchanges, interactions and relationships, up to and including advocating separatism/segregation
i.e. separate dorms for black students, Hispanic students, gays, etc.

The consequences of this are that less relationships are formed between people of different races, leading to less connections and less opportunities for African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.

Confession time; I got my first job through a white college friend’s Dad writing a recommendation for me.

#30 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 17, 2017 @ 2:47 pm

I first started following EEOC claim stats in the late 70s. It was an eye-opener on several levels, some not what you might expect.

Significantly more than half of all claims were rejected as having no merit. This was a direct refutation of the un- or under-qualified getting special treatment argument.

A small but significant proportion of cases were represented in court by the EEOC, at no expense to the claimants, a refutation of the argument that it’s just too expensive (in time and money) to pursue a claim.

The final nail in the coffin of opponents’ and naysayers’ objections, in the area of Affirmative Action, was the so-called quotas. From the original Executive Order up to an explicit statement from Pres. Clinton, quotas were in fact deemed an invalid way to comply with the EOs and subsequent statutes and regulations. In fact, statistical analysis showed very strongly — as in moving firmly from correlation toward causation — that the use of quotas was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the goals of AA.

In hindsight, I have my share of favoritism on my behalf. If I’d known it at the times, I confess I’d not have done anything about it. There’s plenty of “blame” to go around, and the best we can do is try to promote changes and fight the sabotage attempts.

#31 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 17, 2017 @ 10:41 pm

Which is what worries me in many ways about this new devotion to identity politics on the Left; along with its very aggressive policing of interracial exchanges, interactions and relationships

I wonder whether these infantile disorders would have started an earnest discussion circa 1967 as to whether Richard and Mildred Loving should be supported in their case before the Supreme Court, or whether the intersectionality of their family life dictated that they must be educated as to the necessity to separate?

It a bit like the published first chapter of a very badly thought out volume entitled Original Sin, which speculated on what thoughts might have gone through Clarence Thomas’s head if he were on the court when Loving v. Virginia was heard. He was living in Virgina with a “white” wife, but to be true to his principles, he would have to uphold Virginia’s right to make its own decisions on the matter.

The first chapter was pointed and amusing. After that the book degenerated, offering the wholly subjective criterion “Is it legitimate?” in place of Scalia’s originalism. Who is to say what is “legitimate”? I’m a fan of Hugo Black’s formulation, when the constitution says congress shall pass no law, it means, congress shall pass NO LAW. It does not mean congress shall pass no law unless congress and the supreme court agree that the government’s interest in having the law passed is greater than the people’s interest in not having the law passed.

#32 Comment By Jonathon Sanders On August 18, 2017 @ 7:47 am

While I applaud the writer’s reasonable and practical take on what he sees as a major problem at the forefront of our nation and world, I want to point out that he is “barking up the wrong tree.”

Identity politics is not a problem any more than going to the doctor for a runny nose. It is a symptom of a much deeper problem with humanity. Very brave to bring up Christianity in these times and since we are on the subject let’s give it the full scope it commands. The problem is sin. To be more specific, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.”

Who cannot see that identity politics mirrors these traits? Lust of the flesh – to live how I want and please myself at the expense of others. Lust of the eyes – to see the world the way I want from my own viewpoint no matter how flawed or destructive that may be. Pride of life – to be my own god and to exercise authority and control on those I deem to be subjective to my will.

These are the roots of all sin, according to the Bible, and no amount of condemnation from either Left or Right from either Principal or Preacher or Priest about identity politics is going to make one hill of beans different. Why? Because to preach against white supremacism or pseudo-racism is to be the doctor treating the runny nose. Who wants to be that doctor?

“The well have no need of a physician.” No truer words were spoken and by the Great Physician. Morality is the white washed tomb we bury our souls in and ethics are sold for thirty pieces of silver. When you get down to where the Spirit of God is dividing joints and marrow you move way beyond the stage play of whites vs blacks and straight vs gay. You get into the spiritual warfare for your very eternity.

I care about this nation because I care about the people in this nation. Jeremiah 29 – Seek the good of those around you – even your oppressors. However, I do not care about the survival of the American way of life or the survival of any national identity. And until more people can strip away the false narrative of race, color, creed, etc… and get to the heart of repentance and right-standing with God then identity politics is just the stuffy nose we get when the sickness flares up. Here’s your tissue.

#33 Comment By Sierra On August 19, 2017 @ 11:19 pm

I was born and raised on the political left and I’ve finally come to the point where I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t toe the party line, I have many views that fall into other political spectrums, conservative and libertarian. I also am quite far to the left on others. But the identity politics and the insane vicious absurd internal culture wars that have resulted have turned my stomach and break my heart – I think Dr. King is spinning. Race and gender relations are only hurt. A frightening kind of manipulative set of rhetorical weapons is being used to attempt to control people’s thought and speech. I have found that there is no where to go with it, and it doesn’t matter what you say to the Social Justice Warriors – there is really no way for you to come out unscathed. You are there to be abused and vilified, blamed and neutered. Literally, whatever you say is wrong according to someone. And if you care at all, if you have any feelings in the midst of the mob, it is only proof of your guilt. It feels more than a little Maoist. I don’t know what can be done, my attempts to point it out are met with nothing good. It’s very disheartening.

#34 Comment By Joe On August 21, 2017 @ 10:23 am

Has Dreher ever specified what exactly he means by “identity politics”? It’s by no means a term with a single, universally-accepted definition.

#35 Comment By Merican On August 21, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

So you want us to fight identity politics with identity politics? Weird.