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Op-Ed: Of Merit and Melanin; Identity Politics and the Balkanization of America

Identity Politics and the Balkanization of America
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 have migrated here from every continent and continue to do so to this very day. Photo credit, licensed.

BOYNTON BEACH, FL –  In 2019, after President Trump’s State of the Union speech, Democrat Gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, gave the traditional oppositional party response. She spoke of the hopes and aspirations that millions of marginalized Americans share and rebuked the Trump administration for not doing enough. In one of the last lines of her speech, she made the comment, “Identity politics makes us stronger.”

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 have migrated here from every continent and continue to do so to this very day. 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 in order 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; a country filled with racists, sexists, and xenophobes. The source, in fact, of most of the world’s problems. This is a reversion to tribalism. It is a direct repudiation of everything that America stands for and ultimately could 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 left the city of Sarajevo, and ultimately the nation of Yugoslavia, in ruin and introduced two new terms to the lexicography of our own 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 whom remain inherently hostile to one another. In what used to be known as the Soviet Union, the situation was played out on a far larger scale, with fifteen nations emerging out of the Soviet collapse. Sporadic fighting sometimes quite heavy, has continued in the Southern border regions to this day and has resulted 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 with the goal of toppling the system, but a return to tribalism, with all that entails: Dis-cord, Dis-harmony, and eventually, Dis-union.

 The legacy of Identity Politics 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 was therefore discarded. When you kill an ideal, people fall back on what they know; what they always have had: race, religion, and ethnicity. In truth, Communism had already died in the hearts and minds of the people, long before the tri-color flag of the Russian Federation replaced the Hammer and Sickle, fluttering in the breeze, atop the golden spires of the Kremlin.

We are now at a major turning point in our history. If we continue to stress Identity Politics above all, which seems to be the case, then our country will inevitably fail and the American experiment will be consigned to 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. No; Identity Politics DOES NOT make us stronger. Just the opposite is true  If carried through to its logical conclusion, it will result in the destruction of the United States of America 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 the practice of Identity Politics in their own homelands.  

Censorship is another means the far left uses to achieve their goal. Googling Ms Abrams speech, one discovers her reference to Identity Politics has “mysteriously disappeared” from the transcript; and yet, Ms. Abrams has repeatedly defended its use in other forums. The left will stop at nothing in their pursuit of a Marxist state. This idea has been tried may 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, the record is one of failure. 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, the sentiments of Abraham Lincoln probably expressed it best, when he observed on the eve of the American Civil War that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

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