The increasing controversy about Identity Politics, groups of people identified by gender, ethnicity, etc., and Intersectionality, urging those identified groups to band together against oppressors (usually identified as white males), entirely misses the point. Use different criteria to define these groups, and everything works.
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The increasing controversy about Identity Politics, groups of people identified by gender, ethnicity, etc., and Intersectionality, urging those identified groups to band together against oppressors (usually identified as white males), is capturing an increasing amount of attention. But if we use different criteria to define these groups, the controversy goes away, everything works.
Let’s start with why we would define and put people into groups in the first place. What is the goal? At the moment, all the groups that people are making various arguments either for or against, are groups that no one chose to belong to. These are groups that people became a part of at birth. Ethnicity and sex are at the core of the push to put people into various identity groups and then pit them against one another. I used the phrase “pit them against one another” because it is clear to anyone that this is exactly what is going on. Here’s the process: Create identity groups, tell people which groups(s) they belong to, tell them who their enemies are, then encourage them to have at in the name of justice. Oh, and along the way be sure to rank various identity groups along on righteous scale that pretends to measure levels of disadvantage, levels of victimization. For example, a black man would not rate to be as high on this identity group ranking chart as a black transgendered male.
What is the goal for those who define identity groups in this way? All identity politics based on inherent characteristics have negative and self-serving goals. Slavery was an example of identity politics based on an inherent characteristic–ethnicity. Slavery positioned whites as being superior to blacks. Today’s version of identity politics is trying to portray whites as being inferior, and masking their inferiority with oppression.
But, Will, the title of this podcast is “Praising Identity Politics.” Where’s the praise? Ah, good question; the praise is for identity groups chosen not on inherent characteristics, but groupings based on how we think and how we choose to go about our lives. Let’s look at some examples of groups who go about their day with positive thinking and living, e.g., those who:
- Have an educational commitment, be it a GED, or a PhD in French Literature. GED or PhD; doesn’t matter, the key is the commitment.
- Respect authority.
- Believe in both the efficacy and nobility of consistent hard work.
- Practice personal responsibility; whatever it takes.
- Are their Brother’s Keepers.
Now, let’s look at some groups where negative thinking and lifestyles have taken over, e.g., those who:
- See themselves as entitled, either through victimhood or simply because they deserve it.
- View entry-level jobs and entry-level pay as beneath them.
- Resist authority at almost any level.
- Feel that tasks like doing homework and working hard are for chumps.
- Filter everything by examining whether or not it is good for themselves.
These two sets, groups of groups if you will; the ones who “get it” in their thinking and in how they choose to live their lives, and the ones who don’t, are not separate and apart from each other. This is not about “haves” and “havenots.” The link between the groups is the Brother’s Keepers choice that is part of the first set of groups. The second set of groups clearly has needs that can be filled by those in the first group. No, I am not at all talking about filling those needs by using the first group’s tax money to help the second. We don’t want resources to be siphoned off by the government as it takes money from some and gives it to others. Typically, about 25% of our taxes go into supporting the bureaucracy that collects the money with one hand, and spends it with the other. And money by itself is never the long-term solution. Never. What’s required is people investing in people. Time, advice, belief, sharing lessons, encouragement, patience; in other words, investing themselves in others.
And this is far from a one-way street. Yes, it is always true that the giver, in this case the Brother’s Keeper, gets more from the giving that the recipient. But it is also true that everyone has knowledge, just different knowledge. The two sets of groups learn from each other, with everyone becoming stronger along the way. We need each other because we are all in this together. You’ll see this as a recurring theme here at Results With Reason.
Just for fun. There are some identity groups with inherent characteristics that don’t fall into any rational political discussion. I am in the tall group, which I am usually okay with. Except on airplanes. My wife is left-handed. All that really means around our house is that when I open a card from her, it comes out upside down after being opened by right-handed me. But if we want to dig for reasons that left-handers might want to feel oppressed, here are a few. The word gauche, which in English means awkward, unsophisticated or uncool, comes from the French word for left. And have you heard phrases like, “That came out of left field.” or “That was a left-handed compliment.” Both derogatory. And scissors are made for right-handers. They do make left-handed scissors, where the grip is different, and the blades are reversed so that lefties can see what they are doing and the cutting motion is more natural.
The left-handed part was just for fun, but does illustrate a point. The purpose of this podcast is to praise and encourage correctly defined, and correctly motivated and led identity groups. Which group or groups do you see yourself in? And are you signed up with me to be your Brother’s Keeper?
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.