Identity politics creates a culture of victimhood

Identity politics creates a culture of victimhood

CW / Kylie Cowden

The vast majority of racial and identity politics today requires a suspension of common sense in order to be understood. “If you are not racist, you are still racist.” “If you are not sexist, you are still sexist.” “If you harbor no ill-will whatsoever towards the LGBT community, you are still a bigot.” These are common stipulations of fact among the practitioners of identity politics. It is, admittedly, a radical notion that a person must exhibit racist tendencies in order to be deemed racist, or sexist tendencies to be labeled sexist. Still, we find that narrative supersedes fact. The concept of white male privilege dictates that racism and sexism are not individual traits; they are institutionalized oppressors. They are inextricably woven into the fabric of government and private industry. Extenuating circumstances be damned, success is for white males only. Naturally, this belief requires turning a blind eye to the inescapable fact that our nation’s institutions explicitly forbid discrimination of any kind based on race or gender. Litigation surrounding matters of discrimination is a familiar threat to employers, often forcing retention of underperforming employees due to fears of frivolous lawsuits. The belief that discrimination is rampant and unchecked in private industry is completely divorced from the reality of the workplace.

Debate is a thoroughly antiquated and obsolete concept in the realm of identity politics. Instead, points are awarded to each side of a debate based on their stature in the hierarchy of victimhood, with superiority conversely related to an increasing scale of victimhood. The scale is divided along racial, ethnic and gendered lines, with white males not on it at all, but as the root of all evil and the cause of the scale’s existence. As a result, every contribution to society made by white males (as it turns out, quite a few) is discounted on its face. Laws are white man’s laws. The constitution is a white man’s constitution. Everything in the United States is designed not only for the advancement of the straight white male, but the subjugation of every other class of person. Of course, much like the issue of the female wage gap, facts and statistics disprove this narrative.

Racially speaking, Asians have achieved the highest levels of prosperity in the United States, earning a median $17,670 more than the average white household. When divided by country of descent, the top three earners in the United States are Indian-Americans ($101,591), Taiwanese-Americans ($85,556), and Filipino-Americans ($82,389). The narrative is that the white man has trigged the system in his favor, yet the statistics show that if that is the case, it has been done very incompetently. The constitution is not an Asian or Taiwanese or Filipino constitution, it is a constitution that promotes the general welfare of all American citizens. Despite the statistics that show that the straight white male is not, in fact, stealing from the indigent in order to cause racial strife, the fact remains that the disparagement in household median income between white and black Americans is $23,154. 

The narrative of identity politics claims that this categorical evidence of institutionalized racism. On the face of it, with no externalities, this claim is hard to argue. However, again we find the narrative interrupted by the pesky realities of statistical fact. The greatest indicator of intergenerational poverty in the United States is having children out of wedlock. According to Singlemotherguide.com, the median income for families led by a single mother in 2013 was about $26,000, one-third the median for married couple families ($84,000). The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2015 was 36.5 percent, nearly five times more than the rate (7.5 percent) for married couples families. More than half (51.9 percent) live in extreme poverty with incomes below half of the federal poverty level — about $9,900 for a family of three. This translates into a weekly family budget of about $200. One third (34.4 percent) of single mother families were “food insecure”, one seventh (13 percent) used food pantries,and one third spent more than half their income on housing, which is generally considered the threshold for “severe housing cost burden.” Among all homeless families nationwide, over three quarters were headed by single women with children. Each of these statistics, quoted directly from Singlemotherguide.com, leads to one inescapable truth: Two-fifths of all single mothers are poor. How does this relate to the disparagement in prosperity between whites and African-Americans? African-American children are born out of wedlock at a rate of 72 percent. Nearly three in four African-American children are born out of wedlock. The statistics are utterly shocking.

Politifact, quoting far-left CNN news anchor Don Lemon had this to say: “Black people," Lemon said, "if you really want to fix the problem, here's just five things that you should think about doing." The No. 1 item on that list – "and probably the most important," he said – had to do with out-of-wedlock births. "Just because you can have a baby, it doesn't mean you should," Lemon said. "Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues."

The disastrous results of children being born out of wedlock is clearly not an issue debated solely on racial grounds, as proven by Don Lemon. The myth of institutional oppression and discrimination creates a sense of victimhood, which is the ultimate hindrance to prosperity. As a result, I no longer care if you think I am a racist. I no longer care that you think I am a sexist. I have chosen to disregard all future baseless ad hominem attacks as what they are: childish distractions and blatant attempts to silence any attempt at discourse. I am not a racist. I am not a sexist. I am not a homophobe. I am not any of the vile and prejudicial slurs that are constantly thrown in the direction of conservatives once it is decided that debate no longer serves a purpose. I am an American, concerned on behalf of the poor, the tired and the hapless. Self-pity and mythical victimhood will not lift one African-American out of poverty, and to continue pushing these narratives is to propagate complacency and doom the very groups they intend to help to generations of poverty. 

Nicolas Briscoe is a senior majoring in 
history. His column runs biweekly.

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