How Can Identity Politics Be Safely De-Emphasized?

The Democrats received a real drubbing this last election.  They lost the presidency, the House, the Senate, a majority of governorships and a majority of state legislatures.  29% of Hispanics voted for Trump, as did a strong majority of white women.

One idea that has been floated a lot is that liberals should tone down the identity politics.  This has met with fierce objections that this would be tantamount to complete surrender to “white supremacy” and homophobia.  In this article I will address how we can tone down the excesses of the social justice movement with the least compromise to the interests of minorities and unpopular groups.

Central to this essay is the “social justice” world view.  It is a world view in which individuals don’t have rights except through membership in groups, and groups have rights in proportion to which they are classified as having been somehow “victimized” in some way.  The opposite of a group being in a “victim” class is a group being in a “privileged” class.  Not only does being in a “privileged” group bring no rights with it at all, “privileged” groups are to be downright vilified and blamed for all of everyone else’s problems.

Identity Politics Provoke, Rather Than Prevent, Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are a law enforcement problem.  The perpetrators are idiots and criminals who are immensely unpopular, and the laws on the books carry extremely severe penalties.  We have police to deal with these acts if they extend beyond expressing opinions.  It is extremely unlikely that anyone will move to strike down hate crime laws and if anybody tries we just have to vigorously resist that.  This essay is assuming that hate crimes are not going to amount to more than a few anecdotal violent incidents, a few philistines shouting slurs, and a few naughty kids spray painting swastikas here and there, and not enough of any of these things to affect the average person’s daily life, although on the rare occasions when such things do occur they will get a huge amount of press attention by liberals eager to cast the election of Donald Trump as the end of the world.

An important thing to remember is that when some juvenile idiot spray paints an anonymous swastika somewhere, the motivation is probably a desire to push back against the excesses of identity politics.

Prioritize Which Rights Protected Classes Need Most to Keep

We should try to maintain, and continue to advance, protections against job discrimination.  That is one of the most important things that a minority or group needs in order to get by.

As I understand it, gays and transsexuals may still lose their jobs in many states.  During the election, Trump said he was pro-LGTB rights.  Whether he will consider that binding is anybody’s guess, but the chances are fairly good that if federal congress tries to undermine LGTB rights, he will veto it.

Free Speech: No One Should Be Above Criticism, No One Should Be Beneath Defense

An important part of how a democracy conducts itself is that there must be open public debate. Statements should be evaluated strictly according to two criteria — whether they are true, and whether they are relevant and constructive.

Identity politics conflicts with this. To a social justice warrior, far more central is whether a statement is “punching up” or “punching down”. Any statement criticizing a “victim” party that is made by a relatively “privileged” party is “punching down” and therefore automatically wrong, regardless of whether it is true, relevant, and constructive. The opposite, “punching up” is always to be commended, and any attempt by a member of a “privileged” group to defend themselves against such atacks, however unfounded they were, is promoting “white supremacy”, or “sexism”, and therefore automatically wrong.

Thus, according to the SJW’s, to be in a “victim” class is to be above criticism, and to be in a “privileged” class is to be beneath self-defense.

The “privileged” are not completely lacking in virtue, and the “victims” are not completely without fault. It is in the public interest for debate to be able to reflect reality, so these restrictions on speech are intolerable.

Rights Should be Based on Individuals, Not Groups

In Martin Luther King’s famous speech, he said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.“.

The current SJW movement has been pushing us in exactly the opposite direction — we have been arriving in a world where the central core of everyone’s identity is their group membership, with what they’ve actually achieved in their lives being a distant, secondary consideration.

Promoting the SJW world view that rights, especially the right to free speech, were not inalienable rights of all individuals, but rather, belonged to groups, and only certain groups, where specifically the group representing the largest voting block in the country had no rights at all, was not a politically stable situation.  It was inevitable that eventually someone would run against this world view and win.

Burden of Proof, Part I: “He’s a Bigot”

One tactic that the SJW’s have pursued is making the accusation of “bigotry” very frequently, usually on the basis of unbelievably flimsy evidence.  Once any “privileged” person has been accused of “bigotry”, the only way to make a denial that is taken seriously at all is to have extensive credentials as having been a SJW themselves.

These accusations flew so far and wide, with so little justification, that basically every white Republican in the country, if not every non-SJW, had been tarred with the brush, especially when Hillary was quoted as dismissing most Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables”.  When you call someone a “bigot” and they don’t think it’s true, they’re not going to listen to you when you make the charge against others.  The SJW’s had been calling “wolf” so often, and for so long, that they had completely lost credibility with a very, very large share of the voters.

Burden of Proof, Part II: “Dog Whistles” and “Coded Racism”

If someone expresses alarm about too many people abusing the social safety net, they are not necessarily talking about blacks.  There are more whites on welfare than blacks.  But any discussion of abuse of the social safety gets met with immediate accusations of “dog whistle politics” or “coded racism” from the SJW’s, so that the issue, and many others like it, cannot be discussed with the SJW’s present, which means it cannot get discussed in the public media.  This does not mean these problems don’t exist, and don’t warrant being discussed.

Any time any form of dysfunctional behavior is brought up, the SJW’s shut down the debate with gratuitous accusation of “coded racism”.  And dysfunctional behavior is rampant.  40% of the children being born in the country today, of all races averaged together, are out of wedlock.  Raising a child properly is a daunting task for two people with two incomes, it’s drastically harder for one person alone.  This is an epidemic and a recipe for disaster, and thanks to the SJW’s, it’s hardly discussed.

It’s overwhelmingly in the interest of society that we be able to talk about our problems, and what we can do to address them.

Burden of Proof, Part III: Discrimination is not the Only Possible Cause of Differences in Outcomes Between Groups

There are many differences between different groups.  Ethnic groups all have cultural differences.  Men & women have different instincts.  A difference in outcomes between two groups may or may not reflect discrimination.

Elementary school teachers are overwhelmingly female.  This doesn’t prove that elementary school principals are sexist against hiring males.  It may just reflect an intrinsic difference between men and women, where women are more likely to want to spend all day surrounded by little kids.

Men and women have different arrest rates for violent crime.  This doesn’t prove unwarranted bias against males by cops.  While cops are probably more suspicious of males than females, the difference in conviction rates probably just reflects the fact that men are more violent than women.

Younger men are convicted of street crime at a higher rate than older men.  This doesn’t prove unwarranted bias against the young by cops.  While cops are probably more suspicious of young men than old, the difference in conviction rates may well reflect maturation of the brain, which continues into the late twenties, and the fact that older men have had more time to learn that street crime doesn’t pay.

These suggestions aren’t going to make life intolerable for anybody, would result in fewer voters being alienated from the Democratic Party, public debate that is able to face our problems squarely and realisticaly, and as a result, a healthier society.