The Masquerade of Identity Politics, Part Four

In Part Three, I shared the actual data collected on social media here in my community on the subject of an Immigration Detention Center which will open in the near future in our county. The showcase of identity politics displayed, in many cases reflected the message people are bombarded with daily from various sources.

From some on the right I heard, “Immigrants are after my job, will commit crimes, and don’t deserve to be in our country.” From about an equal number on the left I heard, “All immigrants are treated horribly, are just seeking asylum, and we should open the borders.”

Both attitudes ignore the fact that immigrants are human beings, capable certainly of committing crimes, but certainly capable of becoming hard working citizens. Both sides were guilty of lumping everyone into some big, nameless, faceless corral of immigrants, to fit a particular narrative.

Only two commenters, one on either side, cited personal experience with immigrants. For the most part, posters readily gave their opinions from things they had heard and read about immigrants.

The local commenters, who had investment in their community and who genuinely had concern for immigrants, in the end chose community over the pull of the group which said that all immigrants are mistreated. They also chose, at least online, not to join the catch-and-release group, better known as the open border narrative.

At least some residents, however, were most willing to allow themselves to be agitated by total strangers who they perceived to be part of their tribe. The majority were by and large new residents or residents who had no community connections. They seemed proud that they had no investment in the county other than to criticize, and placed no value on the opinion of others. They were contented to be part of a group-think, placing many thumbs up to the opinion of people they did not know, but perceived shared their values. This happened quickly and easily.

At the conclusion of my research, I may have more questions than answers. What force is it that would make the first group (if even temporarily) to instantly forget their friends and neighbors who they grew up with and interacted with weekly, and to think those friends who run the jail would “treat cruelly” immigrants brought to the facility?

Furthermore, what is it that caused another lifelong resident to leave a message of hate for his supervisor before, as he admitted, reading anything about the facility at all? His apology included the admission that he had at first read nothing, and just the mention of the words “illegal immigrant” got him going, a direct quote. He was not for catch-and-release, and understood this was temporary detention to ensure that immigrants attended their court dates.

Overall, though, when considering the results, what has happened to individuality? The more commenters who appeared, the tighter the negative group-think divided itself into tribes.

A few footnotes are worth mentioning; A cross section (5) of all the negative posters later contacted me about how to get employment at the jail, apparently a rethink of their original positions. Having a jail with actual criminals without one single incident in 20 years could have been a determining factor, or the old “What’s in it for me?” was in play and “principles” went out the window.

It is also clear that some of the negative comments simply led to, “Not in my backyard.” Commenters,  when pressed about their views, slipped into this classic attitude, almost unaware of what they were posting. When asked if they planned to protest detention centers in Prince William or Farmville, or anywhere else because this situation was so against their principles, the answer was either no, or the commenter disappeared, along with the principles. The point is, the “appearance” of jumping on the band wagon was too heady an idea to resist.

In truth, the jail is located on A.P. Hill in the middle of what is essentially wilderness, and few who moved to Caroline in the last twenty years even knew it was there. It is in no one’s back yard.

Although a large preponderance of people had a heart, the handful that did not, in the beginning, took over the forum. When confronted by other commenters, they eventually gave up but not without dire warnings of what would happen in our county from both sides if the detention center went forward: Caroline would fill with immigrants, or Caroline would become the home of internment camps.

No one in the groups I studied suggested that a certain candidate or party would remedy the situation or even suggested that action. It was more important to wax on and on about oppressed feelings and drawing membership to what amounted to the “safe space” of the group.

One lesson for me was that my community is not immune to identity politics. Apparently this issue can bring it rolling out of the woodwork.

There will, of course, always be bitter people in society, but this inability or unwillingness to drum up some common sense and run to join the group-think is scary indeed. The message is if only you will come and join, we can right these wrongs, and by and large more and more people are buying it.

With identity politics, there is something for everyone as a new group is being persecuted and oppressed in the news every week. The glaring omission in most of these is the answer for how the wrongs will be righted.

Identity politics is now affecting every facet of life. I see where many blame the rise of identity politics and socialism on the decades long message of entitlement from academia. While college campuses are certainly ripe with students fresh for the plucking, I know plenty of young people who made it out with a degree, and their ability to think for themselves and their reasoning, intact. What happens, however, if you begin the indoctrination of group-think earlier?

The spring edition of the National Review described in detail 122 new business items that will be on the top of the list for the National Education Association (NEA), better known as the teacher’s union. They called on their members (who teach your children) to make these a top priority. It is interesting to note this, in response to members who feel union dues are too high, and that the organization’s structure is based on politics and not educating children. Only half of the members of the NEA voted for Hillary Clinton, but the response was to push identity politics even further:

The NEA adopted 122 total New Business Items, including commitments to promote the Black Lives Matter Week of Action (including supporting BLM’s demand that “ethnic studies be taught in pre-K-12 schools”), to support “a strategy postponing confirmation of a Supreme Court justice until after the mid-term election,” and to encourage teachers to assign readings that “describe and deconstruct the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism.”

The NEA also promised to respond “in support of and in solidarity with immigrant families who are separated, incarcerated, or refused their legal right to request asylum due to the heartless, racist, and discriminatory zero-tolerance policies of the Trump administration.”

In a move that promises to open a nasty new front in the culture wars, the NEA further pledged to

post a list of known individuals with businesses who are committed to refusing services to same-sex couples and/or LGBTQ individuals. NEA can access a list of these individuals and their businesses from organizations such as THINKPROGRESS (thinkprogress.org), Southern Poverty Law Center, and Human Rights Campaign, and share it with all state and local affiliates on nea.org.

In further exploring how identity politics has taken hold of education and science, consider a recent article in the City Journal. The writer describes how actual data is collected and bent to follow a certain narrative;

Identity politics has engulfed the humanities and social sciences on American campuses; now it is taking over the hard sciences. The STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—are under attack for being insufficiently “diverse.” The pressure to increase the representation f females, blacks, and Hispanics comes from the federal government, university administrators, and scientific societies themselves. That pressure is changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness.”

In looking for solutions to right this ship, leaders, activists, and talking heads call on members of both the Democratic and Republican Party respectively to quell these “uprisings” within the party and return to reason. Calling out the “fringe” and sending them on their way, they theorize, will stop things like the shooting of Republicans playing baseball on a field, or prevent what transpired in Charlottesville.

What if, however, the author of this phenomenon is neither party? In the final installment, I’ll share my thoughts on what or who is fueling the identity politics of today.

See Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.