Seymour, Ghahraman, identity politics, white supremacy

Since the Christchurch attacks there has been a lot of diversions into allegations and debates over white supremacy and identity politics, two quite vague terms.

Twp MPs, Act’s David Seymour and Green Golriz Ghahraman had this exchange on Twitter.

I don’t think these sorts of discussions are very productive but they probably need to be aired.

Identity politics and dignity

‘Identity politics’ is a term that’s been increasingly used to criticise someone or something, but with the meaning being vague.

The Oxford definition is actually not very remarkable.

identity politics

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.

The top definition at Urban Dictionary has a different take on it:

The act of believing that disagreeing with someone on certain ideologies equates to them disapproving a particular identity such as one’s race, sex, sexuality, religion, etc. rather than the ideology itself. Instead of focusing on the logical aspect of an idea or opinion, identity politics instead believes that a particular identity is opposing all people who belong to a particular identity.

This alternative seems closer to what I see as more common usage:

A dog whistle used by brocialists to attack any member of a minority group who gets above themselves by disagreeing with them.

Disabled lesbian: The flaws in state communism have been apparent to much of the left since long before the Soviet Union was ever founded. What do you think the Marx-Bakunin split was about?

Brocialist: Hey, quit your identity politics; we’re trying to talk about socialism here.

From The Spinoff article by NZ Privacy Commissioner John Edwards: Transgender self-identification: why it’s a human right”

What is “identity politics”? The term has come to be a slur, a shorthand encapsulating what is seen as the natural conclusion of another lazy and imprecise term, the much maligned ‘political correctness”. Identity politics is caricatured as a symptom of the decline of an increasingly fractured left, obsessed with smaller and smaller subgroupings of society, defined by some characteristic of race, gender, sexuality, disability or similar.

But that is only one side of what has become to be known as identity politics. Francis Fukuyama, in his 2018 book Identity – Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition finds in the epithet also an explanation for the wave of rightwing Nationalism sweeping the world, from Hungary to Brazil, from the 2016 Brexit vote to the US presidential election of the same year.

The link is dignity, and the perception of the overlooked and disenfranchised, who, whether left or right, feel that their sense of identity is threatened. The subtitle to Fukuyama’s book is even more revealing: “The Demand For Dignity and the Politics of Resentment’.

The aspirations of marginalised gender or ethnic groupings have something in common with the overlooked and taken for granted Rust Belt Trump voters whose communities have been impoverished by economic decline, and ravaged by pain pills. Behind each is a cry for recognition and an equality of opportunity.

Dignity is something that’s missing from a lot of online discussion, especially when  terms like ‘identity politics’ are thrown around.

“…the Dom Post’s recent transformation into unthinking Identity Politics mouthpiece”

Dominion Post readers – is this a fair comment on the newspaper? I don’t get it, and only see a wide mix of coverage via Stuff.

The term ‘identity politics’ is coming up more these days. It’s a fairly vague term to me, and it seems can mean different things.

Identity politics are political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics are shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely[clarification needed] correlated social organizations. Examples include social organizations based on age, religion, social class or caste, culture, dialect, disability, education, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, generation, occupation, profession, race, political party affiliation, sexual orientation, settlement, urban and rural habitation, and veteran status.

The term “identity politics” has been in use in various forms since the 1960s or 1970s, but has been applied with, at times, radically different meanings by different populations.

History

The term identity politics has been used in political discourse since at least the 1970s. One aim of identity politics has been for those feeling oppressed to articulate their felt oppression in terms of their own experience by a process of consciousness-raising.

Identity politics, as a mode of categorizing, are closely connected to the ascription that some social groups are oppressed (such as women, ethnic minorities, and sexual minorities); that is, the claim that individuals belonging to those groups are, by virtue of their identity, more vulnerable to forms of oppression such as cultural imperialism, violence, exploitation of labour, marginalization, or powerlessness. Therefore, these lines of social difference can be seen as ways to gain empowerment or avenues through which to work towards a more equal society.

Some groups have combined identity politics and Marxist social class analysis and class consciousness — the most notable example being the Black Panther Party — but this is not necessarily characteristic of the form. Another example is MOVE, members of which mixed black nationalism with anarcho-primitivism (a radical form of green politics based on the idea that civilization is an instrument of oppression, advocating the return to a hunter gatherersociety). Identity politics can be left wing or right wing, with examples of the latter being Ulster Loyalism, Islamism and Christian Identity movements.

During the 1980s, the politics of identity became very prominent and it was linked to a new wave of social movement activism.

The mid-2010s have seen a marked rise of identity politics, including white identity politics in the United States. This phenomenon is attributed to increased demographic diversity and the prospect of whites becoming a minority in America. Such shifts have driven many to affiliate with conservative causes including those not related to diversity.  This includes the presidential election of Donald Trump, who won the support of prominent white supremacists such as David Duke and Richard B. Spencer (which Trump disavowed.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics

 

 

Welcome to some more scary men versus women division

“A compelling new entrant in the contest for the world’s worst IDP article contest being held by Radio NZ and The Spinoff”

Someone sent me that, with a link to this at RNZ: Welcome to the scary party, young men

By Anna Connell

There might be some truth behind US President Donald Trump’s claim that it’s a “scary time for young men”, but not in the way he thinks.

Mr Trump’s assertion that it’s a “scary time for young men in America” because “you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of” comes as his nominee for the supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh, faces several allegations of sexual misconduct.

It’s nearly impossible to argue Mr Trump is referring to a genuine fear with his comments. Simply put, false accusations of sexual assault are rare – only 2 to 10 percent of sexual assault reports in the US are found to be false, and it is equally rare that false accusations lead to convictions.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations in the US, there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. Meanwhile, it’s estimated 1 in 6 American women will experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Welcome to the scary party, young men – it might be a scary time for you now but, as someone on Twitter said, it’s been a scary millennium for women.

Mr Trump is using abstract fear here, tapping into a vein of anxiety about a disruption to a comfortable, ordered way of life. A way of life where boys could be boys and men could be men. Where women knew their place and a slap on the bum wasn’t ‘unwanted sexual touching’. Where white men held all the power and women weren’t making runs at the White House.

This resonates with his supporters because, in the face of rapid societal change (and that is what we’re experiencing), your options are to embrace the unknown or retreat to the safety of the past.

Please don’t burn my feminist card for saying this, but I have some genuine empathy for this position. In this instance, Mr Trump is somewhat right – it is a scary time to be a young man but not for the reasons he suggests.

The roles men and women play in modern western societies have changed at a rapid pace. Where once men had a sure sense of their identity as the breadwinner and head of the family, women now work and sometimes earn more than men do.

Where sex was just something men did to women, with or without consent, it’s now something women insist on enjoying and being an equal party to. Where once men could largely ignore domestic and child-rearing obligations, they are now expected to play a role at home, or even stay there while women go to work.

Let me be clear, this is all a good thing, a great thing, a necessary thing, and plenty of men are wholly comfortable with it. But that change has happened at a rapid rate and I worry that men don’t know how to talk about it without fear. Those who do talk about it often dwell on the past, reverting to values and mores that are fast fading.

Where and how do young men discuss the now and the future? Where do they find good role models? Where do they learn and talk about sex and consent that isn’t a porn site or a sniggering playground conversation?

A lot of men versus women generalisations here.

Many men are excellent role models. Most men don’t sexually abuse or rape women (or other men).

It’s really hard to be empathetic about all this when women are only just gaining some space to make their fears, rightful anger, and desire for change acknowledged. But somewhere in there, I think we have to make some space to acknowledge that many men are full of fear too. That fear might not be justified and it’s hard for many women, myself included, to see it as anything other than entitlement and privilege, but it is fear nonetheless.

It’s a scary time for young men, not because they might be held accountable for their actions, but because their fear is being weaponised for political gain, encouraged by those who gain the most from division and hate. Acknowledging that might just be the first step in diffusing its power.

There is an issue with the possibility that some men might be “encouraged by those who gain the most from division and hate” – but Connell seems unaware that she is also encouraging gender division and hate.

 

Identity Politics ‘Tearing America Apart’

James A. Baker III and Andrew Young write Identity Politics Are Tearing America Apart

Somehow, the drumbeat of dissonance seems harsher today.  Jaded Americans are constantly confronted by a deluge of animus from their televisions and smartphones.

The U.S. finds itself increasingly divided along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual identity. Countless demagogues stand ready to exploit those differences. When a sports reporter of Asian heritage is removed from his assignment because his name is close to that of a Confederate army general, political correctness has gone too far. Identity politics practiced by both major political parties is eroding a core principle that Americans are, first and foremost, Americans.

The divisions in society are real. So are national legacies of injustice. All can and must be addressed. Those who preach hatred should be called out for their odious beliefs. But even as extremism is condemned, Americans of good will need to keep up lines of civil, constructive conversation.

The country faces a stark choice. Its citizens can continue screaming at each other, sometimes over largely symbolic issues. Or they can again do what the citizens of this country have done best in the past—work together on the real problems that confront everyone.

Both of us have been at the center of heated disputes in this country and around the world. And there’s one thing we’ve learned over the decades: You achieve peace by talking, not yelling. The best way to resolve an argument is to find common ground.

Things are nowhere near as bad in New Zealand. There is certainly some dissonance and division on the political fringes, but it isn’t widespread nor serious.

America has many faults that must be repaired—from a failed health-care system to a military that needs upgrading. Americans must, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said during a 1965 commencement address for Oberlin College, learn to live together as brothers and sisters. Or, we will perish together as fools.

If the air of civility in last nights leaders debate is anything to go by we may actually be heading for improvement here, and even fools may enjoy better lives despite their perpetual pessimism.