The political purpose of identity politics is to divide the country into groups as a strategy to change America completely. Identity politics sees people’s beliefs and interests as determined by their membership in specific groups, particularly sex, race, sexual orientation, and disability status. It is an enemy of reason and Enlightenment values.
Identity politics and critical theory are intended to transform America from a culture that values the work ethic and responsible individualism to one that directs distribution of group privileges, as individual natural rights are discarded in the rush to collectivism.
Gonzalez defines identity politics as, the deliberate creation of pan-ethnic and other identity groups with the idea that members of these groups should get compensatory justice and adopt the culture of victimhood that this encourages. The book’s purpose is to explain how and why the elements of identity politics came together, who was behind the ideology’s rise, and what we can do about it.
The book explains the rise of identity politics, the doctrines and philosophies behind it, and its threat to American liberties. Our government has created ethnic and sexual categories whose members have been instilled with resentments against the country and its system and given real financial benefits for nursing those grievances. Insisting on group grievances thereby perpetuates the identity groups. If we stop this vicious cycle by cutting off the funding we can free ourselves from the grip of identity politics.
The book traces the origins of identity politics to the late 1960s and 70s when the white establishment panicked over the black riots. They offered temporary racial benefits to pacify the groups supplying the rioters. They accepted leftist activists claim that there was an analogy between the suffering of Blacks and the experience of Mexican Americans, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, and other specified groups. The analogy was later extended to women as a group.
Activists sought to move the country away from its limited government traditions and toward the centralized state planning drawn from Kantian, Hegelian, and Marxian worldviews.
The book’s goal is to change how the nation thinks about identity politics and identity groups by exposing the actors and the theories behind it. The first four chapters of Part I describe how the main ethnic and sexual categories were created. In Part II, Chapters 5, 6 and 7 explain the ideological basis for such category creation; Chapter 8 concludes the book by offering policy corrections and practical political solutions for ending identity politics. To this end, the book seeks to help us understand identity politics genesis and purpose.
A particularly dangerous component of identity politics is the coercive diversity to which we must pay lip service. Our children were traditionally taught that all Americans regardless of origin are united in a common cause. The new diversity is its opposite. The intent of identity politics is to divide America into semiautonomous, formal, and cohesive subgroups that have distinct outlooks, aspirations, privileges, and rights.
“Social justice” requires the redistribution of resources to members of identity groups. When diversity of race becomes the lodestar, diversity of views is banned. An example is the suppression of speech that the gatekeepers of identity politics label “hate speech”.
The speed which identity politics has become acceptable is bewildering. Identity as a member of one of these groups confers a claim to victimhood, which has been elevated above individual accomplishment.
Self-image and self-esteem are powerful motivators affecting our chances of success or failure. Identity politics instills self-doubt and encourages you to nurse grievances. Those who go around in search of racial or sexual slights are setting themselves up for a lifetime of self-inflicted grief – they are trading in self-reliance, self-respect, and success. If ever there was a Faustian bargain this is it. We are living in this victimhood culture today. The goal of social justice warriors is not equality but their new definition of equity – equal outcomes, the reverse of equal opportunity.
In academia, critical theory seeks to replace Western culture by a full frontal attack on the Enlightenment tradition of liberal democracy.
Since it relies on the creation of groups and giving people incentives to adhere to them – the ability to claim oppression is the key to the bank – eliminating group making’s subsidies can rid us of identity politics..
Identity politics is a not grassroots movement. It is an elite project. Pan-ethnic umbrella groups, such as Hispanics and Asians, were created by political activists, intellectuals, philanthropists, and their allies in the bureaucracy. Philanthropy had a tremendous amount to do with creation of identity politics, particularly the Ford Foundation’s grants.
Fostering resentment is an effective bonding agent of solidarity for forming groups into voting blocs. Terms such as “minority”, “person of color”, and “privilege”, were introduced to promote the sense of grievance and resentment that is the lifeblood of identity politics.
Mexican Americans began to be consolidated into a voting block by Saul Alinsky. His groups trained the Hispanic activists who used Ford Foundation money to fund the ethnic special interest organization La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The intellectual leaders of identity politics saw philanthropy as a powerful tool to advance their agenda, especially with the Ford Foundation.
The creation of an Asian identity group was spearheaded by Chinese-American and Japanese American Marxists indoctrinated by the Black Panther movement. Feminists in the 1960s were also influenced by the work of early Marxists.
In 1974, the Census Bureau created the first National Advisory Committee On Race. Gonzales explains the role of the Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee in the establishment of identity politics, and the way radical organizations have used them to insinuate themselves into the policymaking process.
The idea was to first force Americans to divide themselves into ethnic groups through the Census and other means, and then imbue them with grievances, and tempt them to identify with such groups in perpetuity through a system of entitlements like affirmative action, set-asides in contracts, racial gerrymandering, etc. The idea that America is composed of racial groups negotiating with each other in never ending rounds of power politics corrodes the very concept of individual liberty.
The Ideological Component
Chapter 5 exposes identity politics’ Marxist foundations. Progressives whose writings and social analysis laid the foundations for identity politics were attracted to socialism; particularly the critical theorists of Germany’s Frankfurt School, especially Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas on identity politics were based on Marxist theory.
Chapter 6 explains how the left both promotes and uses the demographic shifts in the American population makeup.
Chapter 7 explains how the victimhood paradigm is predicated on the collectivist understanding of society. The activists knew what they were doing when they elevated victimhood as a source of self-worth and declared that victims were entitled to compensatory justice.
Victimhood has become a key aspect of our lives, especially in federal law. The federalization of victimhood culture began with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s first EEO-1 form sent out in 1966 to companies nationwide requesting them to furnish data on Negro, Oriental, American Indian, and Spanish surnamed employees.
Chapter 8 explains that money, both federal and philanthropic, was the key factor in the success of radical organizing. The Ford Foundation, with its Gray Areas project, run by Paul Ylvisaker, served as a blueprint for Johnson’s Great Society. When Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society activists saw a pot of gold. They quickly persuaded selected groups of Americans that it was in their economic self-interest to organize around radical, race-based political ideologies. They well understood how to use government benefits and funding to radicalize the masses. The vectors for grievance mongering would be identity groups with various claims of fabricated victimhood.
The key is to eliminate those economic incentives created for forming group identities to divide us into factions. To create the political climate to end these subsidies and escape this trap the entire process of identity politics must be exposed, and its purposes understood.
Chapter 1 – Hispanics
The Hispanic collective was created to give the leaders of Mexican American identity organizations political clout in federal funding. Most influential was the Community Service Organization promoted by Saul Alinsky. It became the crucible of the changes to come. What the CSO wanted was votes, the making of Mexican Americans into a unified voting bloc. That was the first step first step toward official racial categories.
A 1970 Ford Foundation sponsored study played a seminal role in the racialization of Mexican Americans, culminating in the creation of La Raza and the Mexican American legal Defense and Educational Front (MALDEF) solidifying Hispanic identity. The equating of Mexican Americans to Blacks was key to organizing ethnic block coalitions and to extending the status of victimhood. Its sponsored UCLA study of Mexican Americans represented the Ford foundation’s first major foray into group creation. Militants from La Raza, MALDEF, and other organizations pressured the Census Bureau to create a Hispanic identity for the 1980 census.
Chapter 2 – The Asian Paradox
77% of Asian Americans are estimated to have voted for Democrats in the 2018 election. The education level of both Indian and Chinese Americans are among the highest in the country. School, especially college, is the place where Asian Americans are taught to nourish grievances that their own experiences have not given them.
In New York City Asian-American parents are fighting Mayor de Blasio’s attempts to break up selective public high schools. To get into these schools students must take the highly competitive specialized high school admissions test, a rigorous examination of the students’ aptitude. This makes admissions colorblind and meritocratic. Asian Americans made up 51% of the offers of admission, blacks 4%, and Hispanics 6.6%. Asians represented 16% of New York’s public school population and Blacks and Hispanics together 66%. The habits, practices, and cultural milieu of families led to the children’s demonstrable success or lack thereof.
Leftist Asian affiliated activists reject the image of Asians as model citizens. They are not working in the interest of Asian-Americans, they are working to change society. The problem for the left is that Asian Americans have succeeded in precisely the way that the leftists despise, through individual action, striving, and aspirational effort.
MENA refers to citizens from the Middle East and North Africa. This chapter covers the Obama administration’s attempts to create a special racial category for this group.
Chapter 4 – Sex
Radical feminists in the late 60s and early 70s started consciousness raising groups, a typical communist exercise. Their aim was to destroy the family, destroy the American patriarch, and destroy monogamy. They planned to accomplish their goals by promoting promiscuity etc. The women’s liberation movement was explicit in its antipathy to the family as the central unit of society. There is an intellectual history of feminism’s role in the attempt to remake culture. They supported state-funded daycare, the curtailing of parental rights over their children, etc. The breakup of relationships and families was to serve an ideological purpose. The entire capitalist system was, they believed, based on the patriarchal family.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) was born in 1966. Kate Millet and other radical feminists begin to gain real political and administrative power and to translate their ideology into law in the all-important important regulations that bureaucrats used to implement laws according to their own interpretation.
NOW burrowed into the administrative state and begin to play a leading part in intimidating, first the Johnson, and then the Nixon administration into drawing an analogy between women and Blacks, using the black civil rights struggle as a model. NOW became the voice of women’s rights, patterned after the African-American civil rights movement. One of the goals was to get every woman out of the house and into the labor force.
Women had first become a protected class with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Acts Title VII protects individuals from discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and sex, thus making it illegal for employers to discriminate against women in hiring, firing, promotion, raises etc.
NOW made its gains with few members, as did other insider networks like LA Raza and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ). They have little connection to the grassroots but are expert at playing the inside the Beltway game because they have on staff many former bureaucrats and many sympathizers inside the permanent bureaucracy. NOW has been funded by leftist foundations and Fortune 500 corporations.
The impact of NOW on the American family would result in the steady demise of American family formation. Too little attention has been paid to the ideological attack on the family since 1960s. The leftist elites have always understood the economic impact of marriage, the stability it offers to the spouses and the children.
Movies began to have a powerful ideological content – the focus on women’s grievances against men, the class conflict, the feelings of injustice regarding the distribution of power…
During the Clinton years feminism’s third wave began to question not just gender roles but the fact that biological sex exists at all. One of the hallmarks of the new sexual revolution is the creation of nearly countless gender identities.
The identity battles that have torn up society have not been about protecting women, gays or anyone else, but about tearing society apart in order to install another system. The creation of identity groups has been an ambitious and encompassing enterprise; it is about destabilizing all social norms. Private property, the free market, the family, religion, assumptions about sexual roles and biological sectors, all needed to be destroyed.
Chapter 5 – Marxism By Any Other Name
Liberty At Risk
The Italian, Antonio Gramsci, was one of the fathers of identity politics in the early 1900’s. His plan was to carry out a consciousness raising indoctrination campaign that would convince the proletariat of his having been duped by tradition, religion, the family, the educational system, and all the cultural mores of society and let the worker understand his true interest by joining the collective effort to transform the system.
His campaign would take over the culture making industries, what the 1960s radical Alinski termed the long march through the institutions. Once the cultural institutions had been taken over they would stop promoting traditional culture and attack the foundations of Western civilization.
Gramsci, Marcuse, and Dutschke represent three generations of Western Marxists associated with critical theory in the attempt to remake society, institution by institution. Herbert Marcuse was a member of the Frankfurt School in Germany, which had a huge impact on the founders of today’s identity politics. Many of our academics are now critical theory advocates, as are many of the members of the Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee On Race And Ethnicity. The postmodernists are the other camp of European philosophers and academics to which identity politics traces its origins. Both Marxist camps repackaged Marx for mass culture. They employed similar methods and approaches: a systematic attack on Western democratic societies’ cultural norms; the belief that morality is culturally relative, with the related rejection of universal truth and objectivity. These schools of thought are responsible for popularizing the view that certain groups are marginalized.
Max Horkheimer, one of the key founders and popularizers of critical theory, moved the Frankfurt School from Germany to New York in 1935. From their base at Columbia University the Frankfurt school thinkers began to directly influence the United States. The Columbia School of Education introduced many thousands of future educators to leftist ideas.
The Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, a hotbed of liberal activism, was Paul Ylvisaker. The nation’s schools of education, by indoctrinating the nation’s future teachers, are some of the worst culprits in the Balkanization of America.
The American founders were inspired by the ideas of the Anglo Scottish Enlightenment, the tradition that underlies America’s attachment to freedom. Critical theory and postmodernism derived from Continental philosophy and its successors, the intellectual errors of the French terror and communist totalitarianism. Despite their record these ideas have been a beguiling temptation to academics and activists. To understand what has happened to America, its universities and its politics, we have to understand these philosophical antecedents.
In Marxism’s first modern experiments with marriage, family and sex, Kate Millet and other feminists were especially influenced by Engels, who had the most to say about family. He wanted to destroy the nuclear family and with it the state.
Gramsci’s notion of cultural hegemonic oppression was an innovation without which the advances of the left in Latin America would not have been possible. One of his main targets was Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church, which together with the educational system stood in the way of class-consciousness. One who has religious faith is unlikely to transfer his faith to an ideological vanguard indispensable for bringing about revolution.
Gramsci started the intellectual process that has produced the constant talk about “privilege,” the use of the term “community organizer” by radicals who wanted to upend society, the denigration of American history, and the insistence that America was rotten from the start. Gramsci’s theories led to the organizing of Mexican Americans, the creation of categories of Hispanic and Asian Americans, and the instilling of a sense of victimhood and grievance in these groups. Gramsci’s influence underlies the consciousness-raising sessions introduced by major corporations, and the reinterpretation of American history by Howard Zinn and others on the left. The spread of leftist governments in Latin America was inspired by Gramsci’s ideas about cultural hegemony.
In 1937, the Frankfurt School published its manifesto, Traditional And Critical Theory. To traditionalists all truth is empirical and universal and the scientific method is reliant on objectivity. Critical theory, its opposite, held that man could not be objective and that there are no universal truths. This relativism was an assault on Western civilization and its tenets and traditions. Dialectical criticism was a way to tear down societal norms – but only those of the West.
Marcuse Discovers Race, Sex, And Politics
Herbert Marcuse had a huge impact on our culture during the social transformations of the 1960s as his theories were put into action. He became known as the guru of the new left. One of his books, Eros and Civilization, has been called a Bible of the counterculture. His, One-Dimensional Man, is essentially a second Communist manifesto. Marcuse saw an opportunity in the civil rights movement that could be used to transform American society into a socialistic one. Marcuse and his followers saw the enemy as national cohesion, so sought to foment division, disunity, and strife. One area where Marcuse wanted more individual freedom was in sexual mores. He called for the abandonment of sexual morality and monogamy to undermine the family.
Philosophical Links With Postmodernism
Marxism was the shared philosophical ancestry of the postmodernists and critical theorists; but the line began with Rousseau and ran mostly through Germany, from Kant through Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and others. Marcuse studied philosophy under Heidegger from 1928 to 1932, eventually becoming his assistant.
The intellectual legacy of the mostly German continental thinking includes the belief that man’s rights came from the state. American founders’ inheritance of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment of Hume, Locke, and Smith, subscribes to the natural rights view, that man possesses certain rights at birth, such as life, liberty, and property, and the role of the state is to safeguard those rights.
Rousseau and Kant have been called the intellectual founders of the modern radical left. They are the intellectual forefathers of Marx, Foucault, Gramsci and allies.
Gramsci, the Frankfurters and the postmodernists were all borrowing from an earlier master, Nietzsche.
Postmodernism gets its name because it is a refutation of the Enlightenment and traditional Western culture. It is an intellectual current characterized by the rejection of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment, by theoretical discourses disconnected from any empirical text, and by a cognitive and cultural relativism.
“Practically every radical cause in America today shows the influence of the postmodernist assault. From radical feminism to racial and sexual politics, postmodern leftists blend a unique brand of cultural criticism with the political objectives of these movements. In their intellectual laboratories – the “cultural studies” in humanities programs at American universities – they apply theories of structuralism, post-structuralism, and deconstruction to achieving the political objectives of the new left.… Every cause in identity politics owes its existence to this bevy of critical theories.” Kim Holmes – Heritage Foundation
The money behind much of the attempt to transform America came from the Ford Foundation. Communists strongly influenced the Foundation’s thinking about programs. Many of their program officers had a secret anti-capitalist orientation says Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute.
There was direct Communist Party involvement in the creation of identity politics. One of the most influential of the groups formed was the Community Service Organization (CSO), which was promoted by Saul Alinsky and used to politicize Mexican Americans.
Chapter 6 – The Demographic Hustle
The left wing of the Democratic Party has long thought that increasing diversity in America would give the party a ruling majority, which would enable the party to impose its policy agenda on the country. Hispanic support is a crucial part of the new Democratic majority. In the 2000 elections, Hispanics made up respectively 6% and 5% of Democratic and Republican coalitions but by 2016 the gap had widened, with Hispanics reaching 12% of Democratic voters and just 6% of Republican voters.
It is estimated that by 2036 white voters will make up 64% of the electorate compared to 87% in 1980, 74% in 2016 and an expected 72% in 2020. In 2016, white non-college voters made up 60% of Republican voters but just 29% of Democratic voters. The parties’ coalitions were more dissimilar in terms of their racial, educational, and age composition in 2016 than at any point in the previous four decades. The gap was 63 percentage points, whereas it was as low as 42 points in the 1980 election.
Those with postgraduate education vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Just 5% of progressive activists say they are proud of America’s history. They are mostly white and have strong ideological views and high levels of engagement with political issues, and the highest levels of education and social and economic status. This group, steeped in critical theory, ethnic studies, women’s studies, and a variety of grievances as college students, have carried that perspective forward into their adult lives.
Those seeking a permanent Democratic majority want people penned inside minority categories so they will continue to feel marginalized and look to Democrats as their allies and benefactors. That is why they put so much effort into making people feel like victims.
Advocates of identity politics use the Census to make sure the demos is divided.
The Census Bureau’s racial counting system was instigated by the racial advocacy lobby and continues under its control. The Census is about counting what is needed politically.
Between 1988 and 1997, cultural, multiracial and multiethnic advocacy and minority population interest groups became an increasing presence in Congressional and OMB hearings and have become an enduring part of the American political life.
Government began to give it is imprimatur to designated minorities in the 1960s. In 1966, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began asking firms to collect information through its EEO-1form on various racial categories. What began as an effort to track how policies affected people thought disadvantaged morphed into government-sanctioned promotion of victimhood and racial preferences. The goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to prohibit racial discrimination, was turned on its head
The Office of Management and Budget finished the job in 1977 with Policy Directive number 15 directing the Census Bureau and all other agencies to employ the ethnic and racial pentagon of white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American. This had enormous consequences. The ethnic advocacy organizations had insisted on the official government stamp, and especially census boxes, because they created groups. It is why they have fought so hard to control the census process.
Well-intended government programs lined the pockets of the race hustling organizations whose job it was to foment resentment on the part of Blacks, Mexican Americans, Filipinos etc. The newest term deployed to further identity politics is “person of color”.
The Foundations Of Identity Politics
The Mexican American and Puerto Rican legal defense funds were both created by the Ford Foundation as Latino versions of the NAACP LGF. The Foundation founded these organizations before they had any grassroots membership. They acted on behalf of (but not with) these respective racial communities through the courts to achieve public policy victories. The Hispanic category got its name because it was politically expedient.
At the time of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which overturned the 1924 law that had favored immigrants from Northwestern Europe, Hispanics had little impact on America’s demography. The Ford Foundation started making grants to foster “group identity,” creating La Raza and MALDEF in 1968 when the foreign-born among the population numbered just over 5% and was declining. In 1974 the Census Bureau created the first National Advisory Committee On Race and OMB created the ethnic and racial pentagon in 1977.
The Balkanization of America, and the identity politics it produced, were a social engineering plan crafted by those at the highest echelons of institutional success as a response to the black riots of the 1960s. Abandoning the assimilationist ethics in favor of its opposite, group formation, is a political project with a political end.
An important difference today from earlier American immigration policy is that very politically savvy people were able to use the crucial moment of the civil rights movement to create Marcusian vanguards everywhere. Preferential programs proliferated in an atmosphere of racial crisis. This was followed by the Gramscian view that these marginalized groups of people must abstain from adopting the nation’s norms, because by doing so they would be participating in their own oppression.
The Center for American progress (CAP) is the intellectual hothouse of the left wing of American liberalism.
Chapter 7 – Why It Matters
Richard Carranza, the extraordinarily powerful chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, is in charge of the largest public school system in the world. He oversees a budget of $25 billion. He has bought into identity politics and can now impose his views on a staff of 135,000, including 75,000 educators. In 2019, he ordered the principles, supervisors and superintendents to undergo mandatory training to root out the “white supremacy culture” and the “implicit bias” that he said existed in New York schools.
The consciousness-raising struggles sessions in which these officials and teachers had to participate to root out “white supremacy culture” included drilling teachers on stamping out “individualism,” “objectivity,” “perfectionism,” “either/or thinking,” a “sense of urgency,” and “worship of the written word”. This is an attempt to replace Western civilization with a counter narrative that sees reason, logic, truth, and objectivity as instruments to universalize patriarchal Western oppression. This is critical theory and postmodernist deconstruction turned into a multimillion-dollar industry of outside consultants, and a disaster for the children.
Unless identity politics is confronted and eliminated there will be Commissar Carranza’s in every school district and in every HR department at every company in America.
The object of these people who are in control of so much of American education is not to offer a better pedagogy. They want to destroy the free enterprise, liberal system that best offers protection for man’s natural rights. What they want is socialism, a state that will force people to behave in ways they have defined is good.
Critical Race Theory And The End Of Natural Rights
Critical race theory is at the center of identity politics and is the mutant child of critical theory. It was hatched in 1989. Critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law.
Since freedom and free markets produce unequal outcomes, the victimization and oppressor/oppressed narratives become justifications for ever-growing involvement of government and diminution of our rights. Equality, the core principle of the Declaration and of Independence that is central to the American way of life, is dropped in exchange for its functional opposite, what the critical theorists call equity. Equity requires unequal treatment, by the schools, corporations, even the law. Where equality is understood to mean equality of opportunity, equity focuses on equality of outcome, which requires the redistribution of resources to those deemed to have a victim status.
Identity politics seeks to suppress the right to private property – the greatest bugaboo of all socialists, as they believe it leads to inequality. The identity politics crowd want to substitute the calculation of resource distribution based on identity, what they call “social justice”, for the give-and-take of normal politics. They want neither property nor opportunity allocated by a market, with the most efficient and productive receiving the greatest share. They want the right to distribute benefits to people based on their degree of assigned group victimhood.
It is important to understand that the very concept of rights is under attack. The American system sees as an ideal affording everyone equality of opportunity, but resisting programs that assure equality of results. As Milton Friedman said, “If you abolish freedom to gain equality, you get neither.”
The Fight To Retain Rights
The denial of the natural rights on which the country was founded, the natural law that grants the legitimate authority for our government, is fatal to freedom. It has given us campuses that snuff out conservative ideas, social media mobs, and shutting down conservative views by the companies that run social media. It has given us hate speech laws and politically correct standards that make a mockery of the First Amendment. The new hierarchical shaming system is how the “woke” minority ensures that they remain majority shareholders in the arts, entertainment, and mass media. All Communist dictatorships require censorship and repression.
Identity politics attacks on liberalism, including both classical liberalism and welfare state liberalism has finally convinced many liberal intellectuals and commentators to denounce it and come to the defense of liberal ideals – Mark Lilla, Steven Pinker, William Galston, Francis Fukuyama and a handful of other prominent liberals are now speaking out against it.
Pinker said identity politics, in which people’s beliefs and interests are seen to be determined by their membership in groups, particularly their sex, race, sexual orientation, and disability status, is an enemy of reason and enlightenment values, including the pursuit of justice. Reason depends on their being an objective reality and universal standards of logic.
Pinker added another enlightenment principal: “people can appreciate principles of universal rights that can bridge the gaps that empathy cannot. Any hopes for human improvement are better served by encouraging a recognition of universal human interests than by pitting group against group in a zero-sum competition.”
What unifies the civic American nation if not the founding principles and the Enlightenment views on natural rights?
George Packer said of identity politics that it “sets up a new hierarchy that inverts the old one – a new moral caste system that ranks people by the oppression of their group identity. It makes race what defines individuals. Packer said, “The new progressivism, with heresy hunts and denunciations of sin and displays of self- mortification, creates an atmosphere of mental constriction in progressive cultures, the self-censorship and fear of public shaming, the intolerance of dissent – these are qualities of illiberal politics. The new progressivism is hostile to the principles without which democracy cannot survive.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was intended to prevent discrimination by race in hiring, but ultimately morphed into racial preferences. The Balkanization that followed had malign consequences, particularly the wrongheaded strategy by the Ford Foundation and the surrender to race-based preferences by bureaucrats. Identity politics betrays the civil rights movement.
The Manhattan Institute’s Heather McDonald says identity politics celebrates the racial and ethnic identities of designated victim groups while making whites the scapegoats. The primary responsibility for racial divisiveness rests with its main propagator’s: the academic left and its imitators in politics and mass media. Overcoming bitter division is made more difficult by fueling grievances among some groups and making social pariahs of others.
Grievance mongering has created for all groups, and all American institutions, a culture of victimhood. Rewarding victimhood through government legislation set-asides and transfers has only increased the number of people claiming to be victims. Victimhood culture applies only on an intergroup basis, and only when it serves the interest of leftist goals. A culture that fetishize neediness instead of celebrating success is headed for trouble.
The cultural homogeneity that once characterized America is no longer holding us together. Identity politics is concerned with the interests of designated groups, not with the larger polity. But constitutional republicanism can exist only through the active participation of a united people coming together to agree on principles. The sharing of a common culture and language creates the trust quotient that is necessary for a republic to succeed.
John Stuart Mill observed that “free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities…Among a people without fellow feeling and common language the united public opinion necessary to the working of representative government cannot exist.”
Robert Putnam said diversity was divisive and made people mistrustful of each other. Ethnic and linguistic fractionalization result in bad government.
Since the mid-1800s America has taken in over 100 million immigrants. In the past assimilation and ethnic attrition took its natural course and people became 100% Americans while retaining some ethnic and national origin customs. Samuel Huntington’s question – whether America “should be a nation of individuals with equal rights and a common culture and creed, or an association of racial, ethnic, and cultural subnational groups held together by the hopes for the material gains that can be provided by a compliant government.”
Reversing Government Policy
Giving identity politics and other falsehoods the imprimatur of government writ, enforcing them and suppressing or banning their denial under the specious rules of “hate speech,” has been a political project from the start, one meant to transform the country, upend the culture, abolish the family, and replace it all with a totalitarian system that eliminates the individual, his agency and his rights.
Communism and fascism both stoke resentment, then feed on it when it spreads. They are ideologies that crush the individual for the sake and greater glory of the state, which they and their adherents see as the only rational distributive agent.
The identity politics that those who would transform America have employed relies on an interplay of category making, grievance stoking, and benefit granting under the guise of compensatory justice.
By convincing groups they are objects of collective discrimination a sense of victimhood and grievances can be instilled to create collectives. They are encouraged to separate themselves from the mainstream, to cease assimilating, to think of themselves as no longer belonging to the American nation with common purposes but as members of their tribe.
The U.S. Constitution is much more than a reification of Lockean liberalism. The result was a particular culture shaped from the start by the Anglo Scottish Enlightenment of John Locke and Adam Smith, the American colonial experience with common law, and the dissenting form of Protestant Christianity. The form of Protestantism that animated America until recent times was described by Edmund Burke as the kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. All this combined to produce an attachment to liberty unlike that of any other people on earth, said Burke, “in this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature –this fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies probably than in any other people of the earth.” Self-selection contributed to a virtuous circle of liberty and enterprise.
To start dismantling identity politics we need to stop the government from handing out benefits to those with the claim of victimhood simply because of membership in a protected group. Race and group conscious programs only entice people to subdivide, invent instances of victimization, and encourage them to feel damaged.
The crux of the problem is the government is sending us the message that lower status is established at birth. Programs that encourage such feelings are the lifeblood of identity politics, and fomenting a culture of victimhood and birth castes is the last thing the government should want to create. Such programs contradict the ideals and laws of the United States. Today’s federal government has a panoply of programs that contravene our ideals and laws, and provide the economic incentives to reshape society in ways that benefit radical political ideologies.
In 2011, the Congressional research service (CRS) issued a report that catalogued nearly 300 federal statutes that specifically refer to race, gender, or ethnicity as factors to be considered in the administration of federal programs. The hundreds of federal programs that spend money on efforts to prevent or redress discrimination extend to all of the government’s vast activities. In 2011, the leading areas were Health and Human Services, with 53 programs, the Departments of Education and Agriculture with 41 and 32 respectively. Even the Department of Defense had 18 programs.
What we need is for the government to conduct the survey again at the executive level. Each agency should be required to examine its regulations and relevant statutes to determine if any of them contain requirements to discriminate or permit discrimination or preference. Where such regulations are found the agency should be required to prepare an amendment ending the requirement.
Congress should enact a new Civil Rights Act eliminating all the distortions that have accreted to the 1964 act. The legislation should stipulate clearly that no agency of the federal government can grant preferences based on race, ethnicity and national origin, or on sex, gender, or sexual orientation for purposes of education, employment or contracting. States can take actions along these lines on their own. Nine states have already banned those racial preferences known as affirmative action.
Congress should require universities to disclose their racial preference practices. Eliminating racial preferences in admissions is one of the most important things that can be done to prevent further social splintering. It is the gateway drug of identity politics.
No true campaign to end explicit discrimination and preferences can leave the doctrine of disparate impact in place. First initiated by the Griggs vs. Duke Power decision in 1971, disparate impact concerns actions by employers or schools that have a disproportionately negative effect on certain groups. An action with disparate impact can be held to be discriminatory even when the action is neutral on its face and there was no discriminatory intent. This disparate impact extends discriminatory preferences by category to housing and lending. Disparate impact was not intended by Congress when it passed the Civil Rights Act but through the theory of disparate impact government agencies have acquired the unlimited discretion which makes a sham of the concept of limited government. We need a disparate impact inventory by the federal government. The Atty. Gen. should send a letter to all the heads of agencies that enforce any antidiscrimination statute, regulation, or policy asking questions such as, do you consider your statute, regulation or policy to impose liability for disparate impact?
A related strategy would be legislation amending all the different acts, titles, statutes, regulations, and so on that permit a disparate impact analysis, so instead of disparate impact being prohibited, disparate treatment is prohibited. Either approach would require widespread action throughout government. The Trump administration moved on disparate impact in several areas. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded an Obama era “dear colleague letter” telling schools they could lose federal funding for certain practices.
The United States has 13,600 school districts and 50 million students, 90% of whom attend more than 98,000 public schools. The indoctrination does not stop at high school graduation. Our universities and colleges have become madrassas in the woke Jihad.
The task of reform is enormous because part of the hard left plan has been to have centralized education policy for K-12 that enables radical reformers to implement a national strategy using the Department of Education to impose its will across the country through policy ukases. We need to return America’s curricular decisions to the local level. The Advisory Letters the Obama administration used to impose policy decisions have done great damage. The Trump Administration reversed many of these, particularly in the Department of Education.
There are several key elements in the radicals’ multipronged approach to use universities to transform society. One has been the introduction of critical theory content into the syllabuses of many of the nation’s 1206 education schools, the schools that teach future teachers – a game plan that helps corrupt the young minds in K-12 classrooms. Another has been the embedding of race, ethnic, and gender studies departments in universities across the country, a strategy that corrupts, not just the schools and the students, but many other parts of American life, not least corporate America. Graduates with degrees in the various “studies” departments become the future consultants, HR officials, diversity officers, etc. who impose the diversity regime. Do Americans want a nation where commissars like a Richard Carranza put us through Maoist struggle sessions, suppressing the rights and freedoms that have been America’s hallmark?
Angela Davis said the “studies” departments entrenched in the universities are the intellectual arm of the revolution. The activists who have sought to transform America through our universities have been astoundingly successful. All these new “studies” departments are focused on grievances and radical politics rather than on expanding knowledge using objective scholarly standards.
Kate Millet’s job with the National Organization For Women (NOW) in 1968 was chair of the organization’s Education Committee, a position she used to promote the creation of women’s studies departments at the nation’s colleges and universities.
The textbooks used in leading schools of education take an overwhelmingly critical approach to America. Authors who advocate that the purpose of education is to transform society are the most frequently assigned writers in the most prominent schools of education.
The attempt to poison students’ minds continues. The New York Times prepared its 1619 Project to be used as a curriculum in our schools. The project is full of essays that present slavery as the central issue of the American founding and subsequent history, and indicting the free-market system for perpetuating slavery. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, is used in schools across the country including courses that prepare the next generation of American leaders in politics, business, and the arts, even though it has been repeatedly debunked.
The left has reinterpreted the meaning of civics, from grounding schoolchildren in the common, cultural, and political knowledge that all Americans should know, into the activism of demonstrations, boycotts, and cancel culture. This transformation mirrors the larger divide between those who want to preserve the valuable aspects of our heritage and improve on them, and those who seek to overhaul it completely. Schoolchildren are not being taught the content that all educated Americans formerly mastered on the theory that it would deepen the institutional racism that favors the oppressor class.
Our common cultural literacy is being lost, as K-12 schools across the country are using critical pedagogy’s hidden agenda to introduce children to the grievances of identity politics. One such pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching (CRT), tries to modify teaching of all subjects, even math, according to specific racial or ethnic identities.
As Jay Schalin writes, “legislatures and governors appoint members of governing boards who in turn appoint the top administrators. They control the purse strings for universities, and have ultimate control over the K-12 curriculum. They can alter certification procedures and standards, encourage partnerships with innovators etc. They can even change education school governments and personnel practices.
Private and charter schools do a much better job of teaching civic values than the regular public schools. Charter schools are the fastest growing segment of public school enrollment and we should encourage the growing number of civic-minded charter schools.
Americans must wage a crusade for classrooms to teach the content that will help children grow into competent, knowledgeable adults. We have to fight for shared national knowledge, for a sense of civics that unites us, without advocating for a national curriculum from the federal government. As William Bennett said, “Where conservatives have grown wary of meddling in curricula, activists and advocates on the left have imposed their views, moving further from the unifying impulse undergirding the entire purpose of public education.”
Bennett argues for a state-based campaign for inclusion in the curriculum and textbooks of the things an American population requires. There should be a consensus that every American kid should have some knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist papers, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, great works of American literature, etc. and have at least a secular understanding of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Teaching the Western, Anglo-American canon should be one of the foremost principles of education. Our future generations need to have a solid grounding in what made this country so unique so they can deal with the world in the pursuit of the national interest.
American leaders at all levels should make the case that schoolchildren should not be taught to hate their country. The public must be informed of what is its stake so they can demand that political leaders support sound education policies. The state can say you should be familiar with the following concepts, facts, ideas and dates so you get real history not fake history. Common learning is critical if you want to be one country – E Pluribus Unum, not its antithesis, as demanded by the identity politics crowd.
Our universities have become what Arthur Milikh calls, “the left’s research and development headquarters,” and “dissemination point for the political and moral transformation of the nation, especially seen in the rolling sexual revolution and the identity politics revolution.” The Department of Education should not mandate what private universities teach, but state legislatures can and should demand that there be diversity of opinion among the professorate, that the faculty become a less ideologically repressive group. States can pass laws that enforce First Amendment rights on campuses and prohibit shout downs of conservative speakers.
Copyright 2020 by Mike Gonzalez – Encounter Books publisher
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Reading this summary you might get the impression that the majority of those participating in this destructive activity are willing and witting participants in the objective of undermining our culture and our institutions. They are not, they are just going along with the dominant opinion of those with whom they are most closely associated while feeling virtuous for holding the correct beliefs.