Today we are going to look at the concept of "Identity Politics" and discuss whether this is okay or if it is the downright cheapest and lowest form of politics imaginable.
Obviously, identity politics has exploded on the pop scene of late and many are scrambling to understand what the heck it is. The Nigel Garage led Brexit vote thing-a-ma-doo and the whacky American election thing-a-ma-jig has made Identity Politics the norm now and I think not many people in those regions were really ready for it or fully understood what was going on.
I wasn't surprised at all by Brexit or the American 'lection as much as other people were .... I've grown in up Quebec region where on the minor-league "provincial level" (regional areas of Canada) Identity Politics has been the status quo here for over 50 years. It's powerful stuff, powerful stuff. It's also the reason I don't vote and can't stand politics and view politics as the most insidious form of human thinking and behavior.
So yeah, I'm biased, I hate this form of politics. What is it? The old Internet defines it as so,
"a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social
background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away
from traditional broad-based party politics."
I don't think that's the jist of it though. I would define "Identity Politics" as the following,
"A method to get-over or win in politics by scapegoating minority groups who do not share certain skin color, religious, or linguistic traits that the majority population has" -My Definition
Older American Examples (to show it's not new there either)
It's nothing new anywhere, this has been a common form of political strategy all the over the world for thousands of years, the only reason my region (Quebec) is probably more familiar with this term is because we've seen such advanced forms of it in provincial level politics here that that term has been used to discuss politics here for decades now ... while the term "identity politics" is something quite newer to other regions who might not have needed a clear cut term for it in prior years.
America has always had it too but in shorter bursts and in most cases entire campaigns were not entirely designed on it. Just to show this is nothing new let's look at a clear cut example from yesteryear where-in some cheap heat is ran by Bush to beat Dukakis (Dukakis? I liked Dukakis).
Alright in this example by the Bush One campaign to vilify Dukakis, we see an ad which on the surface suggests that Dukakis apparently supports weekend passes for prisoners who display good-behavior and in one case of the weekend pass program a prisoner committed a crime. The ad on the surface attacks Dukakis for supporting this program, but is that all that we're seeing here? This ad campaign heavily focused tv, radio, and billboards with the face of one Wille Horton (the day-pass man). He's a scary man and this ad is saying Dukakis wants to release a horde of them to kill you.
Subtly, this ad said "Dukakis wants to release a horde of black guys to murder you" ... and this ad was popular enough for Bush One to in fact defeat Dukakis. He used an isolated instance of an individual crime as a way to scare the base majority population with photos of scary looking minorities. I feel bad for former Detroit Tigers outfielder Willie Horton who probably had a difficult time in airports and the DMV thanks to these attack ads due to sharing a name with this man in the attack ad.
Yet, in terms of today's American politics this example of Identity Politics is subtle and pretty tame. Today it is totally common to flat-out scapegoat a minority community at the drop of a hat or at the drop of dime full throttle with no worry of any brushback or fallout and no damage control will be needed. In today's politics totally open Identity Politics is the NORM.
As stated above, my provincial Canadian region has engaged in flat-out open-source minority scapegoating for so long that this shit doesn't shock me as much as this overt Identity Politics is shocking millions of British and American people right now following Brexit and the American Fiasco.
It is so common in my region for politicians to use Cheap Identity Politics that I can't even anymore. I literally can't even. Seeing the cheapest form of politics talked about in the media ad nauseum is the status quo for quebec regional politics. Let us count some of the ways.
One time, a mayor of a small town called Herouxville banned muslim wear (hijab, turban, etc.) .... and how many muslims actually lived in this small town ... wait for it .... ZERO! In this case the mayor of the town wasn't even scapegoating a minority that actually even lived there!
There was a weird time here where they had this dopey "Charter of Values" thing where they wanted to ban religious symbols. It seemed strange that 99% of religious people in quebec are catholic christians yet this charter aimed mainly at Muslim and Jewish people and their customs who make up about a combined 1% of religious people here. All the streets in quebec are named after christian saints and there's a gigantic ugly metal cross thing on Montreal's mountain ... but religious symbols like that seemed to be unaffected because they claimed they are "historical religious symbols" basically giving the religion that 99% of religious people believe in an exemption and focusing the ban on the 1% of minority religions.
There's always smaller ones like 9 year old girls getting kicked out of soccer leagues because of muslim headwear and things of a smaller scale. That's just 24/7 stuff.
Want to know what is the main debate going on the last few months currently in Quebec provincial parliament? It's not how to boost the struggling economy that has been in stagnation for 30 years now or anything like that. What is the main debate this month? Well, they are debating non-stop whether or not a lady can wear a Burka.
This is the main topic of debate here now. You should know that the Arabic population here is about 1% in total, most live in the multi-cultural Chill Area (Montreal), that many are second or third generation Canadians and who are pretty much as Canadian as Poutine Pie .... and of those people the amount of females wearing the burka in reality right now is anywhere from ZERO to THIRTY. Taking all this into account ... is debating whether 0 to 30 people in your 8 million people populated area are allowed to wear a scarf-thing really a valuable use of time or does it just boil down to one big old fashion Identity Politics nonsensical WASTE OF FUCKING TIME?
Are you Readin' the News? Are ya Readin' The Papers?
If you're following the news you probably read that a mosque here after months of torment and abuse has been attacked during prayer service by a psychopath yesterday resulting in six deaths.
After something like this happens are all these politicians here who nonstop scapegoat this group of people ... is it going to go back to business as usual after this? Is the Arabic community still going to be the soup-du-jour scape-goat-of-the-day in the non-stop Identity Politics Soap Opera you politicians engage in? Is tomorrow the debate in your parliament back to debating over whether Arabic people can wear a certain hat?
There's dangers in constantly without remorse engaging in xenophobic scapegoating. When elected politicians do it it gets scary because it's almost like you are egging unbalanced people on and roiling up people for no reason at all.
I read a book once called, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by one Charles McKay in 1841,
It was a series of then-contemporary examples of the public going out of control over the silliest things. I remember coming away from it thinking, since the dawning of time it has been incredibly easy to whup up a pointless idiotic fervor over nothing at the drop of a damned dime! I see this happen everyday in society now ... there's a new Popular Delusion that brings out the scary Madness of Crowds every damned day. Whipping up the masses into a fervor is more easy than you can imagine. People who have been elected to office, in any country, have to keep in mind how easy it is to rile people up.
The Identity Politics of today is aimed at the masses by powerful people and I really hope people who use this cheap form politics understand just how easy it is to rile segments of the population up and that getting people riled up over nothing can be very needlessly dangerous.
I find Identity Politics in the modern age to be dangerous and totally negligent behavior and the people with influence who engage in it for gain to be of the cheapest variety of human being.
In the words of Charles McKay who wrote Extra-Ordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds let's end this one on a quote:
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they
go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by
one." (McKay, C.)