Identity politics: Progressive? Or Reactionary?



"June 12, 2015 Baltimore, MD – "For 106 years, the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds. NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership."

The Fourteenth Amendment

hillary-clinton-takes-on-civil-rights-generation-gap August 2015

Answer the following questions “Yes” or “No”:

1. Do you think a blind person should be allowed to play a seeing person in a movie?
2. Should the reverse?
3. Should a man with no arm or no leg be allowed to play a man with whole body in a movie?  A whole bodied man play a man with a missing limb?
4. Speech Accents—should only a Hispanic person play a Hispanic character?  Example of Scarface.  Al Pacino—does it matter that he is an Italian-American faking a Cuban accent?
5. Should only Native Americans play Native Americans?  Johnny Depp as Tonto?  Or Ridley Scott’s Exodus?  Or The New World (Jamestown)?
6. Should a deaf person be allowed to play a hearing character?
7. Should a hearing person be allowed to play a deaf character?
8. Should black person be allowed to play a white character?  Make up?
9. Should a white person be allowed to wear black face?  What about opera? 

9.a. Should a white person be allowed to play a Mexican in brownface? Example of Touch of Evil. Charlton Heston.
10. Should a black person be allowed to wear white face?
11. Is it bad for black people to pass as white?
12. Was it bad for Rachel Dolezal, a "white" person, to have passed as black? 
(Did she pass)

Imagine this scenario:

An Asian person who teaches Asian studies is married to a white man; a black person who teaches black studies is married to a white European woman.  Both people teach in the same department.

1. Should the two teachers be able to exchange their courses?  Should a black man be allowed to teach Asian studies and vice versa?

3. Should a white person be allowed to teach black studies?
4. Should a black person be allowed to teach Shakespeare? 
5. Do you have to be gay be allowed or able to teach gay studies?
6. Should white students be able to take black studies classes?

7. Should only black women take black women’s classes?

8. Or women back studies?  (Which word should come before the other?)

9.   Can men teach women’s studies?

10. Can men take women’s studies courses?

11. Can gay people teach whatever?

Anyone say “yes” to all?  Anyone say only “no?”
Do you automatically have knowledge—consciousness raised—if you are a member of a certain group or tribe?  Are you simply reciting set dogma? A catechism? 

What is the principle for answering "yes?"  Democratic inclusion; equality under the law; equal pay; equal opportunity. The Fourteenth Amendment
What is the principle for answering "no?"  Is there a principle?  Or is merely undemocratic, arbitrary? Like campus rape—concern for women students who rape, but no concern for women who are not students who are raped (or for men raped in prison).  Or Children of a Lesser God and deaf identity politics—or Sound and Fury documentary about deaf parents keeping deaf children deaf. All about parents and children.  

When racial or gender or whatever identity doesn’t matter, it’s because of democratic inclusion and equality.
When identity does matter, it always involves exclusion, the impossibility of communication, or of education.  In non-identity politics (let's call it "equality politics") case, you get expansion. In identity politics (and so-called diversity), you get homogenization—everyone has the same experience—only if they are in a group—and can "tehrefore" speak for others in that group. But outsiders cannot speak of Others’ experiences. 
Or we get "education" by unverified anecdote and hearsay—"so and so told me her daughter told her she was raped in college—and that lots of her friends had been raped too." This kind of anecdote is the reverse of Reagan’s welfare queen anecdote; instead of sympathy you get resentment from the hearsay anecdote with no historical or factual basis.  In any case, it would appear that education is impossible because only people with certain identities can speak about what they know from their "experiences."  All you can “learn” is empathy and good manners, or updates about the latest right way to say something—not “man” but “person.”  Not Chairman but Chair.  But not “actress” but “actor”; not “heroine,” but “hero.”   Identity politics is about "consciousness-raising," "awareness," feeling smug, superior, morally “good.”  You know and others don’t; the “ignorant” have to be “schooled.” You? You don't have anything to learn. You already know all you need to know.

Is diversity really all that diverse?   Or is it always the same thing?  Tribalism and particularity?

Can diversity be universal? If not, what basis is there for equality (derived from a Human Rights discourse and international law)?
Is inclusion always good?  Is diversity about human rights (law)? Or merely about what is "right" according to someone who asumes the authority to pontificate?

FL education pamphlet for first grade says that the Florida flag is made from parts of flags of all five countries which have ruled it—Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.

Hegel—recognition—Master and Slave dialectic. 

We are a racialized society.  Racist society.  Sexism too. Etc.  But is identity politics the answer?    Or should we look at institutionalized justice and inequality politics? Can we say that race does not exist (since it is a performance, a social construction, not biological) but that racism does? How to adress race when it has been defined so incoherently--by skin color, law (percentage of "blood"), birth certificate, census takers, college admissions forms, as performance, as intellectual property (a given group thinks it "owns" certain cultural practices that others wrongly "appropriate," or steal)

What to do?
End mass incarceration; restore the SCOTUS gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act

, "Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act" JUNE 25, 2013

and fight voter suppression by automatically registering every 18 year old to vote,

• let felons vote after they have served their time,

• lower years of sentencing for crimes (non violent),

• decriminalize marijuana;

• raise the minimum wage to $15.00. 

• de-criminalize petty offenses,

Bail reform, NICK PINTO, "The Bail Trap," August 16, 2015

• End civil forfeiture:


Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

• assistance instead of incarceration for low level offenses,

de-militarize our local police forces,

• train police in deescalating conflicts

close Rikers Island.  

.  LEARN about the history of the United States.  Close the "civil rights generation gap" by educate yourself.  Learn about the Civil Rights movement.  Learn how the Irish became white. That is just the beginning.

Identity or transferential identification?   No papers needed.  Rachel Dolezal as hero.  Or as heroine. LOLZ.

, "Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act" JUNE 25, 2013

Christopher Dickey, "Confederate Madness Then and Now" 07.14.15

"The South Carolina secession convention’s final and authoritative statement was published on Christmas Eve, 1860. It concerned itself entirely and exclusively with slavery—not tariffs or abstract principles. The issue of “states’ rights” came down to the very specific right of white people in some states to own Negro slaves, to get them back if they ran away to free states, and to import them from Africa as they had been imported in the early years of the Republic."

"The South in effect controlled politics from 1788 until 1861. Slave
owners held the presidency for all but 12 years between 1788 and 1850.
All of the two-term presidents were slave owners. Three Northerners
held the office from 1850 to 1860 — Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan –
but all were proslavery and they bent over backward to placate the
South. From the earliest debates over the Union, in the Second Continental
Congress, until the eve of the Civil War, numerous Southern
politicians publicly advocated secession if they did not get their way
on issues involving slavery and other issues. In 1832-33 South
Carolina asserted the right to nullify the federal tariff, and then
officially (although mostly symbolically) passed an ordinance to
nullify the Force Law, which authorized the president to use
appropriate military or civil power to enforce federal laws. At this
time Georgia also brazenly declared it did not have to abide by a
federal treaty with the Cherokees. In 1850 Southerners held two
secession conventions, which went nowhere. In the debates over what
became of the Compromise of 1850, Senator John C. Calhoun of South
Carolina asserted the right of the South to block federal law. . . .

In short, nullification and secession were not new ideas in 1861, when
11 states left the union, but had been part of the warp and weft of
constitutional debate since the founding."

"Did the American Civil War Ever End?"

"Although [President Andrew] Johnson's ranking has fluctuated over time, he is generally
considered among the worst American presidents for his opposition to
federally guaranteed rights for African Americans."

Gore Vidal vs William Buckley Democratic Convention 1968 Debate 2 Part 1

Noam Chomsky Teaches William F. Buckley a Thing or Two.

Is the Civil War still being fought in the U.S.?

"The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically . . . . Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

--Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President of the Confederacy
“Corner Stone” Speech,Savannah, Georgia
March 21, 1861


"Mr. Bezos has become more committed to his original ideas, viewing
them in almost moral terms, those who have worked closely with him

To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the
leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards.


The result was the leadership principles, the articles of faith that
describe the way Amazonians should act. In contrast to companies where
declarations about their philosophy amount to vague platitudes, Amazon
has rules that are part of its daily language and rituals, used in
hiring, cited at meetings and quoted in food-truck lines at lunchtime.
Some Amazonians say they teach them to their children.

Employees are to exhibit “ownership” (No. 2), or mastery of every
element of their businesses, and “dive deep,” (No. 12) or find the
underlying ideas that can fix problems or identify new services before
shoppers even ask for them.

Workers are expected to embrace “frugality” (No. 9), from the
bare-bones desks to the cellphones and travel expenses that they often
pay themselves. (No daily free food buffets or regular snack supplies,
either.) The focus is on relentless striving to please customers, or
“customer obsession” (No. 1), with words like “mission” used to
describe lightning-quick delivery of Cocoa Krispies or selfie sticks.

“One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight,” said Dina Vaccari,