What Created Today's White Identity Politics?

If you’re reading this, you might think that identity politics is something that only minorities and others in the intersectional hierarchy. Indeed, when most of us think of identity politics, we typically envision the race-baiting antics of people like Shaun King or Al Sharpton. However, we’re missing another vital piece of the big picture.

Let’s face it, white people on the right also engage in identity politics. Many Americans, both on the left and the right, have taken political positions based on some aspect of their identity.

Today’s white identity politics differ from that of the Jim Crow era. Now, much of it is a response to the left’s decades-long campaign to demonize white Americans to further a leftist political agenda.

WHITE AMERICA’S GRIEVANCES

When people think of white identity politics, they think of groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis. These organizations preach ethnic dominance, and perpetuate an irrational fear of “white genocide.” The left would have you believe that these groups represent the bulk of white identity politics. However, these individuals represent a minuscule minority of white Americans.

Today, white identity politics is largely a reaction against the left’s policy of labeling whites with whom they disagree as bigots. Instead of debating the issues, they further their political agenda by smearing whites who may not have the same views. Moreover, they have used our culture, the media, and our educational institutions to promote the notion that whites are inherently racist — especially if they are conservatives.

The media has been one of the strongest proponents of the anti-white narrative. When whites commit hate crimes against blacks, the media is rife with reports on the incident. After Dylann Roof ruthlessly murdered nine black Americans at a church in 2015, every major news outlet covered the story. It remained in the news for weeks, and rightly so.

But what would happen if a black man committed the same type of crime? Have you ever heard of Emanuel Kidega Samson? Probably not. Earlier this year, Samson, a black Sudanese immigrant, walked into a church in Tennessee and shot eight people. One woman was killed in the attack while the rest were injured.

The establishment media did not give the story much coverage, even after finding out that the shooter targeted white people as revenge for Dylann Roof’s rampage. But the media isn’t the only culprit.

Last week, a student-run newspaper at Texas State University published an anti-white piece celebrating “white death.” Liberty Nation reports, “The University Star, a student-run newspaper from Texas State University, recently published a controversial opinion column claiming, “white death means liberation for all.”

These examples are not intended to excuse identity politics among whites. Americans of all races and backgrounds are responsible for their behavior. However, these incidents do demonstrate the reasons for today’s white identity politics.

Identity politics has caused great damage to our political discourse and our unity as Americans. If we want to give up identity politics, we need to understand why people buy into it in the first place.

WHY DO WE FALL INTO IDENTITY POLITICS?

Identity politics is rooted in the idea that one group is the victim of another group’s wrongdoing. Those who embrace identity politics carry a mindset of victimhood and a deep sense that they are being deprived of something to which they are entitled.

What makes this issue more challenging is the fact that these perceptions are — at least in part — based in reality. This kernel of truth in their worldview provides the foundation upon which an entire narrative is nurtured into a full-blown belief system.

Let’s take a look at the experience of black Americans. Historically, blacks have been mistreated by white Americans. Today, the country has made significant progress in this area, but in some ways, blacks still face discrimination.

The left has used this fact to convince blacks and other minorities that the entire country is against them. America is so hopelessly racist that blacks cannot hope to achieve success unless the government, led by Democrats, rescues them. The narrative begins with truth, but its infrastructure is built on deceptions and exaggerations that provoke a sense of victimhood in its target and creates resentment against whites.

While whites have not endured the same level of ill treatment, the principle still applies to white identity politics. The left has carried out a vicious smear campaign against white Americans. They have relied on false accusations of bigotry and other forms of anti-white propaganda to further their political objectives. As a result, many whites dismiss minorities’ complaints about bigotry, even when they are reasonable.

DEALING WITH IDENTITY POLITICS ON BOTH SIDES

One of the most harmful aspects of identity politics is the fact that it causes individuals to hold on to their victim status even when facing facts that contradict their worldview. Victimhood becomes a sort of filter that forces the individual to see oppression and bigotry even in areas where it doesn’t exist.

For Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, identity politics creates a seemingly insurmountable barrier to productive dialogue. It all but destroys any chance for mutual understanding.

The only way we can avoid the disastrous consequences of identity politics is to view one another as individuals, and not part of a hostile group. Instead of demonizing our opposition, we should assume they have good motives.

One of the most effective steps both sides can take is repudiating those who constantly perpetuate the harmful ideas that accompany identity politics. Americans must reject those who continually reinforce a victimhood mentality.

We should stand against the divisive rhetoric of the Al Sharptons and Richard Spencers in America and demonstrate that identity politics does not help anyone, it only keeps us from moving forward. If we are to have unity, we must be willing to oppose those who want us to live as divided victims.

This article was originally published on LibertyNation.com.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS