Of Merit and Melanin: Identity Politics and the Balkanization of America
On May 22, 2019, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams gave a speech at the Center for American Progress. Ms. Abrams spoke out strongly in her defense of Identity Politics, stating that “Identity Politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won,” and arguing that Identity Politics “brought new folks to the process.” That is untrue.
America is based on the idea of pluralism, the notion that, regardless of our race, religion, creed, or national origin, we would all co-exist within one nation. Countless millions migrated here from every continent and continue to do so. They retained their ethnic, religious, and cultural identity, but regarded themselves as Americans. Most worked and studied hard, going to school in the evening to master English and prepare for the difficult citizenship exam. Many have said that the proudest moment of their lives was when they were sworn in as American citizens.
To this day, many families still retain old and worn naturalization certificates as part of their family heirlooms. To them, and for hundreds of millions around the world, America was and is, a source of hope and inspiration. This is the reason why protesters in Hong Kong wave American, not Chinese flags. It is why, from Central America to China, families give all they have to smugglers, sometimes having to resort to selling themselves into virtual slavery to get here. Probably, half the world’s population would emigrate here right now if they had the wherewithal to do so.
Identity Politics strips away the idea that we are all Americans first. It places race, religion, creed, sexuality, and most importantly, skin pigmentation at the forefront of one’s identity. It maintains that America is a horrible place, filled with racists, sexists, and xenophobes, and is, in fact, the source of most of the world’s problems. This is a reversion to tribalism. It repudiates everything that America stands for and could ultimately have catastrophic consequences.
Just ask the former citizens of what used to be called Yugoslavia. That nation devolved into civil war and anarchy with various ethnic and religious groups, mainly Serbs, Muslims, and Croats, competing for power and control. It ruined the city of Sarajevo and, ultimately, the nation of Yugoslavia and introduced two new terms to our language: “Ethnic Cleansing” and “Balkanization.”
It took the direct intervention of NATO to restore a semblance of order. Ultimately, seven separate nations evolved out of the carcass of the former Yugoslav Republic, most of which remain hostile to one another.
In the former Soviet Union, the situation played out on a far larger scale, with fifteen nations emerging from the Soviet collapse. Sporadic fighting, sometimes quite heavy, continues in the Southern border regions to this day, resulting in widespread death and destruction.
This is the true legacy of Identity Politics. This is what happens when a people forget their national identity and ideals. It is not the temporary alliance of diverse groups whose goal is to topple the system, but a return to tribalism, with all that entails: Dis-cord, Dis-harmony, and eventually, Dis-union.
Identity Politics’ legacy is written in blood, not just in Europe, but across most of the world. From Africa to Asia to the Middle East, various ethnic groups, religious sects, and tribal entities wage war on one another to assert their dominance and control.
Identity Politics can only succeed when the “threads” that hold us together as a civilization slowly unravel. In our case, these threads are the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence which states that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.
True, we have not always lived up to these lofty ideals, but we have made amazing progress; especially in the last sixty years, both politically and economically. Our Cold War Communist adversaries on the other hand generally remained stagnant. The “ideals” of Communism never produced the desired results and were therefore discarded.
When you kill an ideal, people fall back on what they know, which is what they have always had: race, religion, and ethnicity. In truth, Communism had already died in people’s hearts and minds long before the tri-color flag of the Russian Federation replaced the Hammer and Sickle atop the Kremlin’s golden spires.
America is at a major turning point in its history. If we continue to stress Identity Politics above all, which, judging by plans to distribute the COVID vaccine, seems to be the case, then our country will inevitably fail, and the American experiment will end in the dustbin of history.
The “Balkanization” process has already begun. We have replaced the idea of a Merit-ocracy with a Melanin-ocracy, where skin pigmentation, not experience, ideas, or abilities, is the major consideration for any position. Throughout America, Identity Politics exerts an ever-increasing power over all aspects of our lives: in education and academics; in business and finance; in the theater and the arts; in science and medicine; and in politics and the media. It even wields power over our very thoughts, ideas, and speech.
Contrary to certain opinions, Identity Politics does not make us stronger as a nation. Just the opposite is true. If carried through to its logical conclusion, it will result in the United States of America’s end in its current configuration. Chaos, anarchy, death, and destruction will follow.
There are those on the far left who consider this desirable. They hope to replace the current system with some form of Socialist/Marxist state and Identity Politics is one of the methods used to achieve their goal. The “Big Lie” and censorship are other weapons in their arsenal.
In reality, America is not overflowing with racists, sexists, and xenophobes. Given the sheer number of national, racial, ethnic, and religious groups that co-exist here, we are, in fact, the most tolerant country on the planet.
In any given year, we legally take in between one and a quarter to one and a half million new immigrants, the vast majority of whom come from the third world. Many of them have come here not only for the opportunities and freedom, but to escape the endless cycles of violence and destruction caused by Identity Politics in their homelands.
Censorship is another means far leftists use to achieve their goal. Currently, big tech companies and mainstream media censor views which they deem “offensive.” Coincidentally, the targets are invariably people with conservative or Republican points of view; something which they deny. As always, they admit nothing, deny everything, make counter charges, and double down on their ideology.
Leftists’ will stop at nothing in their pursuit of a Marxist state. This idea has been tried many times around the world and failed everywhere. At its height, more than half the countries of the world, at various times, embraced that system. From Nicaragua and El Salvador in our own hemisphere, to Afghanistan and Indonesia in Asia, Marxism consistently failed. If it were so great a system, would not somebody, somewhere, have gotten it right?
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whatever our many problems, following in the footsteps of Cuba and Venezuela is not the solution. As for what the future may hold, Abraham Lincoln’s sentiments probably expressed it best when he observed on the eve of the American Civil War that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Caren Besner is a retired teacher who has written articles published by American Thinker, Sun-Sentinel, Dr Swier, News With Views, The Front Page, The Published Reporter, Washington Examiner, The Algemeiner, Jewish Journal, Independent Sentinel, Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva, San Diego Jewish World, The Times of Israel, The Moderate Voice, IsraPost, The Jewish Voice, Joo Tube, The Florida Veteran, and others.