The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Identity, Opposition and Hate

Posted on | September 30, 2021 | Comments Off on Identity, Opposition and Hate

The ‘Killing Fields’ of Cambodia

Did you study developmental psychology when you were in college? For a couple of semesters, I changed my major to secondary education — thinking I might become a high school teacher, before realizing I lacked the temperament for it — and one of the courses I took was Childhood Psychology. This provided me a lot of insights on how human personality is developed during childhood, especially identity formation.

This is the crucial question of youth: “Who am I?” If you think of classic teen comedies — Animal House, The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, etc. — you realize how membership in a particular clique or adolescent subculture is part of the struggle to develop a sense of identity. When I was in high school, had one foot in the nerd subculture (playing trombone in band, etc.) and another foot in hoodlum subculture (smoking dope, etc.). Kids naturally form cliques, and part of what goes on in this adolescent tribalism is defining one’s own identity in opposition to The Other — you’re a Jock because you’re not a Nerd, or you are a Hoodlum because you’re not a Goody Two-Shoes, and so forth.

Because identity is so closely connected to group membership, and defined in opposition to The Other — “I’m a Delta, not an Omega” — this often gives rise to a sense of competitive rivalry inherent to one’s identity. And thus identity may lead to conflict and violence. We can see this, for example, in urban gang warfare — Crips vs. Bloods, or Gangster Disciples vs. Latin Kings — but it also explains, for example, the 1999 Columbine Massacre, where the killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold defined their identities in opposition to the more popular cliques in their high school. Columbine was a typical suburban high school where the football team was a focus of school spirit, and there was also a strong culture of evangelical Christianity, with many kids involved in church youth groups. Harris and Klebold, who were associated with a loosely identified clique of outsiders known as the “Trench Coat Mafia,” hated jocks and cheerleaders and Christians, and their bloody day of vengeance could be seen as a particularly toxic expression of adolescent identity.

This kind of antisocial identity — formed in opposition to the values of one’s community — can be understood as the consequence of psychological alienation, which generally involves the rebellion against (or rejection of) parental role models. Nearly all teenagers, in some way, go through rebellious phases, but for the antisocial personality, this kind of rebellion becomes the basis of identity. In the mind of the antisocial youth, there is a clear binary of values — the parental value system, which they reject, and the polar-opposite values the teenager adopts as an act of rebellion. A famous line from The Wild One comes to mind:

Mildred: “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”
Johnny: “What have you got?”

The adolescent rebel lacks the ability to view his situation objectively. His rebellion is driven by emotion, and there is a mindless quality to the destruction that typically ensues — it makes no sense, for example, that a nice suburban kid like Dylan Klebold would become a mass murderer.

All of that is preamble to my main point, which is understanding how these factors play out when identity becomes the basis of politics.

Of course, it is entirely natural and understandable that, for example, farmers care about how government policy may affect agricultural interests, while auto factory workers are concerned with how legislation might help or harm the automobile industry. Likewise, we can understand that women will take a particular interest in issues relating their lives, that racial minorities are focused on issues that affect them, etc. Anyone who has read Federalist No. 10 knows that our system of government was established with the idea of balancing out the various interests of different factions, and far be it from me to deny to anyone the basic right to judge their own interests and to advocate for policies favorable to their interests. That’s just normal politics.

What we call identity politics, however, is something else entirely, involving activism and propaganda intended to incite collective resentment — the victimhood mentality — and to demonize others as perpetrators of oppression. Identity politics is simply organized hatred, and it follows a distinctly destructive pattern of logic.

Anyone who has studied formal logic sees how claims of “systemic racism” incite antisocial attitudes. If racial minorities are universally victimized in a more or less automatic manner — because, it is claimed, “white supremacy” is ubiquitous and omnipotent — then nothing can end this oppression except the destruction of society itself.

Such is the nihilistic syllogism embedded in the work of Ibram X. Kendi, et al., and students of history know where such hateful logic tends to lead: “Year Zero” in Kampuchea under the reign of Pol Pot.

We might also mention in this context Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RLTM), otherwise known as “Radio Genocide” in Rwanda.

What is so infuriating about those who incite this kind of genocidal hatred — the logical consequence of what we call identity politics — is that they do it for mere political advantage, to obtain power by “energizing their base.” That’s what last summer’s Black Lives Matter riots were really about — generating turnout to elect Joe Biden. And yet the “base” which Democrats seek to “energize” this way is so irremediably stupid that many of them actually believe the “social justice” propaganda.

Say hello to Shardé Nabors, Oregon project manager for a Seattle-based activist organization called Social Justice Fund NW. Curious readers may ask, “What sort of ‘social justice’ does Shardé advocate?” And the answer is, the destruction of the United States of America.

“So, earlier this week I made a post saying that it doesn’t sit right with me that there are white people who own property — multiple properties, at that — in the United States of America while black and indigenous people are experiencing homelessness. And I want to expand on that, especially for my new followers who are white, who followed me because of my anti-racist content. I’m glad that you’re listening to me, but I really want to make sure that you’re hearing what I’m saying. There will never be black liberation or indigenous sovereignty as long as the United States of America exists. If you want black folks around the globe and in this country liberated, if you want indigenous folks to be able to have sovereignty over the lands that they’re indigenous to, then the United States of America needs to cease to exist. And I don’t know if y’all are ready for that, I don’t know if that’s what y’all signed up for. I’m not sure if anti-racist work is just something you do to lessen the inconvenience of racism in your life, but I hope you’re ready for this. It’s not for the weak.”

That’s the kind of 501(c)3 tax-exempt “activism” she gets paid for. This is where the logic of the “social justice” narrative leads — hatred and destruction, advocating genocide as the Final Solution.

(Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)



Comments are closed.