The Dangers of Identity Politics

Nigus Getahun, Staff Writer

In a controversial era such as the one in which we currently live, the dome of political discussions has been expanding in order to address the big issues roaming around us. In addition, communities have expanded their boundaries in regard to how these public debates are managed.
The emphasis on political correctness, hate speech, micro aggression, and identity politics, are only a few instances of actions that have polarized the right and left of the political spectrum in the United States.
This laser-like focus on one’s political beliefs or leanings based on identity has been coined as “identity politics.” Identity politics taken at a straightforward level is not necessarily bad at first glance, since most of our political leanings are influenced by our identity. Identity politics could imply that a gay person will most likely vote for a candidate that assures his or her rights, and a woman will most likely support a political position that will protect her equality.
However, in our current political climate, identity politics have taken a completely different form.
Humans are a naturally tribal species. It’s hard for us to stray away from a group dynamic and embrace individualistic thinking. Identity politics in our times has moved us away from individualism, and forced us into a divisive and tribalistic populous. With the growing division in America, both political parties have used or trended toward identity politics in order to gain or maintain a voter base. In fact, what is growing is the radical left’s anti-individual narrative that strips away the individual and puts them in the box of either “victim” or “oppressor” based on race, gender, and sexual preference.
If you push people around too much, and keep putting them into groups that tells them how to behave and what to think as a member of that group, it gets dangerous. Most importantly, it takes away the only mechanism that we use to address the problems in our society: speech.
So, what do we do and how do we handle this? I believe a responsible and careful action should be taken from both the left and the right if we do not want to divide the country and see it move toward violent separation.
We can begin by taking action and acknowledging that one’s identity shouldn’t have anything to do with what is right or wrong. We shouldn’t disregard someone’s opinion and claim they have no place in a debate because we assume they are privileged or didn’t go through hardships as a result of arbitrary traits they hold or experiences they have had. We, as a society, need to overcome our personal biases and categorize each other as individuals, rather than as a collective.