I Know You Are but What Am I?

    The election of Trump has been touted as a challenge to "identity politics". What is identity politics?

    An identity can either be willingly owned by a person or thrust upon them from without. Does participation in a group evolve from other people making similar choices or does it come from another group putting you in a group whether you like it or not? The stark difference between these two conditions is not clearly distinguished in our conversations about who is who. Am I Black because I choose to be a Black? Am I White because I choose to be White? Am I a Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim because my parents were?

    What if I choose not to be in any group? I am not white, black, religious, not religious, Hispanic, Asian, or Martian, I do not choose to join any of the tribes, gangs, cults, special interest groups, or sport clubs on offer. And my non-selection is one of my Rights given to me when this polity was formed.

    The freedom to establish a religion is also the freedom to not establish a religion. If I tolerate other people to raise their children as they see fit it is because they damn well better let me do the same.



    I'm not getting this critique at all.

    The typical Trump supporter seems to enjoy some sense of shared identity with others, after all.  If identity politics doesn't matter, how did he win?

    Of course, what these people mean is a certain kind of identity politics -- women, racial minorities, religious minorities, lifestyle minorities.  The Trump backers just get to claim to be "American," after all.

    I get that on the extreme Trump side there was pretty vocal reaction against the language of identity politics, as practiced in lefty academic settings -- no tolerance for discussions of privilege or who should (as opposed to can) say what. But don't tell me you're against identity politics one minute and Tweet "white lives matter" the next.

    I am not saying that identity politics does not matter. I am trying to address the very contradiction that you point to where a group objects to diversity while not taking responsibility for their consensus against it.

    So I want to look at the difference between participation in a group as an active choice made by an individual and the membership in a group that comes from being collected together with others on the basis of some shared characteristic. In regards to religion, the active participation is clearly stated. In matters of ethnicity and race is not clear at all. While there are proponents of different cultures that want to maintain a separate identity from other groups such as a Buchanan or Elijah Muhammad, there are many people who look just like those people who do not want that at all. It seems to me that such a preference is also a right on the same level as the right of those to form a separate group.

     The prevalence of  either type  can , not must, be a "heads up".

    David Dinkens wasn't wrong, per se, to praise the  gorgeous mosaic of New York life. But Trump's "two guns blazing" attempt  to  shoe- horn all muslims into a box labelled "enemy" is stupid ,of course,  and dangerous.

    It's possible that diversity- in the sense of segregation from the main stream- breeds creativity. Seems to be what Harry Lyme  thought in that Ferris Wheel  claiming the  only product of Switzerland's 1000 years of self-  contained peace was the "cuckoo clock". 

    And I've enjoyed a polish wedding.  And a Greek one. And if not enjoyed, at least been entertained

    by St. Paddy's Day in Southie.

    But clearly if the members of any group are  unwillingly forced into a ghetto,  bad news will follow. Even if (unlikely) the Government isn't the oppressor (as it more or less wasn't after 1942  with respect to the Nisei,)  the moment any group is separated from the rest of us we start not  to like them.  

    At best.



    While it's true that after 1942 the government didn't unwillingly force minorities into ghettos government agencies created conditions that made it nearly impossible for minorities to find housing in any place but the ghetto. Both the VA loan program and FHA mortgage requirements enforced segregation just as effectively though admittedly less violently as any police force.

    The clear line between the two types presented in my attempt to separate active and passive forms of participation is more complicated in actual life. In making the separation, I do not want to explain everything but search for a way to untangle the web of conflation that has so many discussions about race become different people talking about different things.

    While I support efforts to encourage the expansion of a pluralistic society, they are not free of the fate of unintended consequences that follows any plan. The conservatives who complain that such measures put white people in a box do not observe how it can put non-whites in a box too. There is a limit to representing people's interest and that is in the problem of claiming to speak for a group.

    In my insistence that I have a right to not have others speak for me, I want to reject the idea that I have to join a gang to be here. Those conservatives who complain that the Liberal project to expand diversity is forcing them to join a gang are abandoning a right in exchange for the pleasure of becoming something that is given to them. The exception being, of course, those white supremacists who have always said they had to actively take what they wanted.

    With this election, there is a coalition of the active and passive groups of shared identity to form what in a parliamentary system is called a "new government". I say it is time to develop a new purpose for Libertarian ideas.

    We are the resistance now.

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