We have many uber-serious issues to grapple with in these United States nowadays, don’t we? We have raging forest fires, vicious hurricanes, the tragic opioid epidemic, our own version of fascism and “antifa,” guns galore that are causing senseless murders, let alone all our wars and mischief throughout the world. Yes, there is more than enough on our American plate, and a deafening din of arguments accompanied by inane actions and reactions that are pretty dangerous to all of us!
One of the ridiculous arguments going around has to do with Identity and Identity Politics. How is that a problem some of you might ask? And what is this balderdash talk really all about? So, in order for my sometimes slow brains to try and understand, I began by looking up definitions.
Identity: who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that makes them different from others.
Identity Politics: refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.
Based on the above, some of the qualities that make me different from others, and thus form my Identity (which is not static and evolves with age) are that I am:
old and retired
Whatever are its attributes, we cannot easily alter our Identity, but we always have the choice of changing our Identity Politics, examples of which, in my case, would be that I am:
There are numerous groups/organizations/associations with whom I share each of these social characteristics, and I can identify with many different political groups that address each, or some, of them. Hence, as a Progressive female, I could choose, as examples, to belong to a women’s political group fighting for women’s rights; a feminist organization fighting for anti-discrimination and equal pay; an anti-rape association etc. etc.
The above mentioned Identity Politics definitions can be altered depending on my will and inclinations. They can do so at any given time and based on any set of circumstances. Unlike my Identity, they are all theoretically more flexible, negotiable and changeable.
And this brings me to what the political “Right” in these United States is now saying about how the “Left” has been the cause of dividing us up based on the fact that they espoused Identity Politics i.e.: supporting organizations such as Black Lives Matter, for instance; or Muslim, Native American and/or other minority parties and their issues. Instead, they are calling for all of us to be united by being “Americans” first.
This begs the question: which Americans? Republicans? Democrats? Libertarians? Greens? Protestants? Catholics? Methodists? War-mongers? Capitalists? Confederate-flag-waving Rightists? Bernie Sanders Leftists? The list can go on and on. And aren’t these “divisive” in, and of, themselves according to the definition of the Right-ists? Moreover, aren’t Blacks, Native Americans and Muslim citizens inherently Americans? So what are they talking about when they say that we should all be Americans, or Americans first? Does my supporting Black Lives Matter, or Native American rights, or defending Muslims against those who wish to label them all as our “enemies” and “terrorists” make me un-American? How is that rational? And would there even have been such movements/organizations were it not for the absolute fact that flagrant discrimination and injustice exist in this country? Of course not!
What some in the US really want is for us to be the perfect “sheeple” and to simply go along with the agenda and hype of the current ruling class and with the platform of the ruling party, as well as to be constantly preoccupied with emotional side-issues that detract us from the real political shenanigans going on. And should we perchance criticize, protest, or dissent, then we are being divisive and disobedient and, therefore, not good “American” citizens. Isn’t this, then, the very description of an autocracy?
I finished reading an interesting book recently that my grandson passed on to me.
How to Read Literature Like a Professor by: Thomas C Foster.
I enjoyed the book, and Foster has an interesting, laid-back style. After I was done though, I began thinking of the approach he took on how to read between the lines of any book. He posits that All our literature stories are based on two sources: The Bible and Shakespeare. Hmm! And what a perfectly White, Christian, Colonist outlook that is (though the author might not have thought of it in this way at all)! I first recalled in my mind the “Biblical” stories: these have their counterparts in almost every culture and religion on the planet, and whether we look at Greek or Roman myths, Koranic stories, Indian, Chinese, African or other religious, mythological, cultural, folk or other texts. The same goes for all of Shakespeare’s tales. Their story-line follows hundreds of years of stories preceding those of The Bard and sharing the same characteristics. However, the White, Christian, Colonist outlook has consistently, consciously, or subliminally, sought to portray its literature as the basis of all civilization. Totally untrue, and historically inaccurate, of course! Yet, the unknowledgeable, inexperienced, manipulate-able brains of the non-thinking can easily accept this propaganda. Is it, therefore, divisive for me to be looking at this only through the prism of Identity Politics due to the fact that I am of that very old Middle Eastern civilization? The answer to that question is: of course, I am looking at this through my own prism, and whether it is the American Left, or the Right, they both look at things through their own prism of Identity Politics, and, therefore, picking on this topic (amongst others that are equally frivolous) in order to prove what has caused our “divisive” politics is quite absurd. Moreover, it removes the onus from the corrupt politicians themselves who are the primary cause of this “divisiveness, and lays it on “us” the diverse multitudes that make up these United States!
At the end of the day, none of us, not on the Left, or on the Right, not those in the Middle, and not Any American, or, for that matter, any decent human being accepts to be taunted, diminished, marginalized or berated for espousing the Identity Politics of our choice. We all came from somewhere, we are proud of our culture, history and ancestry, and in this country, especially, and per our Constitution, it is our right to do so, and it is a quintessentially American virtue.
We need to stop ranting and raving about our Personal or Political Identities, Skin Colors, Religious Affiliations, Sexual Inclinations and all such matters. We simply need to accept and respect the Other-ness of all our citizens, hear their grievances out, and reserve our individual right to support those individual Identities, and/or those Political Identities of our choosing. Perhaps that’s when we can all become real Americans!
Being simply a “sheeple!” and allowing the dishonest political parties and the corrupt mainstream media to herd us into thinking this, or that, or the other regarding the trivial drivel that they’re so good at disseminating is pathetic. So, can we be both “different and diverse,” as well as American? Definitely we can! And, are we capable of thinking independently and intelligently, or aren’t we??!!