Identity Politics will Cause More Racism: A Response to Ben Mathis-Lilley

I recently read an article by Ben Mathis-Lilley, published on the identity-politics-focused Slate.com. The article, A Reminder That White Supremacists, not Black People, Invented ‘Identity Politics,brought up many… points.

The article begins with a list of several historical events surrounding the abhorrent enslavement and oppression of blacks in America through the 1960s. Using this list as a reference, the author proceeds to say that white people should not be at all surprised that identity politics and race play such a big role in society; whites perpetuated racism for 350 years.

There is no denying that this country has an ugly and horrific history with regards to race. And clearly, recent events prove that this history is still alive in some Americans’ hearts.

With that said, assuming every societal issue revolves around race is naïve and—quite potentially—problematic in favor of our country’s racism issue. Leftists have recently redefined racism to be anything that privileged races do or say, consciously or unconsciously, that offends someone of a marginalized race. By this logic, all whites are to some extent racist, but blacks cannot be racist.

If you leave the insane asylum called far leftism, however, you realize that racism is a form of prejudice that someone can exhibit or not exhibit, regardless of their race. Treating others a certain way based on skin color, belief, or anything aside from that individual, is problematic in terms of actually getting anything effective done.

I will cede to Mathis-Lilley that for 350 years, many white Americans believed blacks were an inferior race and as a result, wrongly set up systemic barriers to suppress the Black community.

However, Mathis-Lilley continues the article by writing:

“The subsequent 50 years have involved whites presuming to be flabbergasted that anyone could think racial identity was a relevant subject in American life.”

Mathis-Lilley is correct that racial identity is important because of our nation’s ugly history of racism, but his implied generalizations of “all black people” or “all white people” are harmful. They seem to be an obvious rejection of MLK’s teachings to judge a person based on character rather than the skin color. Many Americans have embraced MLK’s dream and choose to look beyond skin color; these Americans will, therefore, feel frustrated when certain groups continue to make everything about race.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter who started identity politics; racism should not be tolerated, and neither should prejudice. Racism is evil and has no place in a free country. People should not be treated based on what identity groups they are a part of; they should instead be treated as individuals. Mathis-Lilley is justifying negative generalizing behaviors (racism) by other bad behavior at the hands of select white people (racism), but as the saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right.

Mathis-Lilley does not seem to recognize how using identity politics to consistently blame the entire white population actually creates worse and more apparent racism in the long run. Take, for instance, popular culture rhetoric preceding the horrific events in Charlottesville last month:

The media, academia, and Hollywood constantly push the idea that the evilest people in society are often the most privileged. To leftists, that almost always means straight white males. This group is told that they are to blame for problems such as starting wars, perpetuating discrimination, and contributing to the campus rape climate, even if they were completely uninvolved or not even alive at the time of the event. The problem with this rhetoric is that not all white men are privileged, and many of them struggle in silence. A few pathetic losers among these white men might stupidly join white supremacist groups, but when the entire group becomes associated with this despicable behavior, other individuals will begin to resent those people who assume the untrue and do not seem to want to understand them as individuals.

While white supremacist losers start or join hate groups of their own, leftist losers join others, like Antifa. The growth in these opposing hate groups results in higher political and racial tensions in America.

The root cause of the issue? Identity politics.

Individualism is the solution to the obsession with race and identity politics. Cultural Marxists are constantly preoccupied with identity groups and judging a person’s privilege and marginalization by the groups they are born into. Individualists reject this and judge each person based on their character, intelligence, aspirations, work ethic, and experiences. This attitude helps to eliminate racism and give everyone in society a fair chance to reach their utmost potential.

{To read the article to which the preceding letter responds, please visit: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/14/black_americans_didn_t_invent_identity_politics.html}



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