Identity Politics in El Paso

I keep reading news stories titled, ‘All We Know about the El Paso Shooter,’ and I also keep reading Facebook posts that tell me Trump inspired the El Paso Shooter, and I’m here to tell you – President Trump really does deserve some of the blame.

But then so do the people who are hell-bent on blaming the El Paso shooting on President Trump

Really, the shooter was motivated by something much older than Trump, and in fact, much older than our country.

The shooter was motivated by identity politics.

Trump has been guilty of playing identity politics, in the sense that he understands that white supremacy, white nationalism, and other white racist groups are on the rise. These groups are still but a fringe of a fringe, but they are growing, and most of them support Trump. The left then claims that because these groups support Trump, Trump must in some way be aligned with them. Frankly, to the degree that Trump plays identity politics, the left has a point, and I do believe that while Trump does not openly condone any of these groups, he does not go out of his way to offend them either.

What the left leaves out, however, is that these groups are growing in response to the left. The left has become so engrossed with identity politics, blaming white people (and particularly white men) for every evil ever committed, that of course some white people (and particularly white men) are going to decide to oppose the left on racial grounds. Racism has always bred racism.

Rather than blaming white men for this mass shooting, or blaming white supremacy, perhaps we should blame the real culprit: identity politics.

More than that, perhaps we should blame most of the evil in the world on identity politics.

Let me throw some examples out there, just to see if we can find commonality…

Why did slavery exist in the colonies, and in the South before the Civil War? Because black people were considered different than white people, or, in other words, because of identity politics.

Why did Jim Crow exist until 1963? For the same reason – black people were considered different than white people, or, in other words, identity politics.

Why did 9/11 happen? Because Americans are, generally speaking, not Islamic, and we put non-Islamic troops in an Islamic country, greatly offending people like Osama Bin Laden, who believes that Islamic people are better than non-Islamic people. In other words, 9/11 was caused by identity politics.

The crusades were a reaction to repeated Islamic invasions into Europe, spreading as far as Eastern France, and Austria. Why did Islam invade Europe? For the same reason Europe wanted Islam to stay out – identity politics.

Let us be absolutely, 100% honest for a moment, and admit that identity politics is a leftward mindset, and that the left has always supported identity politics. The left was the party of slavery and Jim Crow, and though the left says that the parties ‘changed sides’ after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, really it was only the left that changed – going from wanting to oppress racial minorities, to wanting to elevate them. And what does the left use to try to elevate minorities? Identity politics.

The right has always been, and continues to be, for equal treatment under the law, which is why the ‘alt-right,’ which literally stands for ‘alternative to the right,’ decided to call itself the ‘alt-right’ rather than just saying they were a part of the right. The alt-right hates the left, but they do not believe in the same things as the right, so they call themselves, “an alternative to the right that is also against the left,” and they affiliate with the right, and with Donald Trump, only to the degree that ‘the enemy of your enemy is your friend.’

Now, I’m happy to say that to the degree that Donald Trump tries not to offend the alt-right any more than he has to, Donald Trump has played identity politics, and has some blame for this evil that continues to divide the world, but I don’t think the left can join me in that argument, as it would mean rejecting identity politics in general, and to do that, the left would have to jettison much of their political platform.

The left is not going to jettison identity politics. What they will do is to point out that the shooter was white, and that he may have been, at least in part, motivated by Trump’s rhetoric. And though that narrative is grossly incomplete, it’s not entirely false either. We on the right have to do a better job of denouncing the alt-right.

One guy, however, within a minute or two of the police releasing the shooter’s name, posted to Facebook the fact that the name was German. Before we even knew how many people had been killed, this guy thought the most important thing about the shooter was his race.

I almost told that person that his post turned my stomach as much as did the shooting, but I held my tongue. I held my tongue not because it was not true, but because it is true, in a nuanced way, requiring more that a Facebook comment. That individual post did not turn my stomach, as it was just one of millions of acts of identity politics that go on every day, but identity politics, and the hate it drives into the heart of all who succumb to it, was at the heart of the shooting, and so when I saw that post, I also saw another shooter, waiting in the winds – someone who might want to kill a bunch of white people, in retaliation.

Hate begets hate, and every once in a while someone who has fallen for the siren song of identity politics will simply say, “Please stop hating us,” and suddenly I can wrap my arms around them and say, “YES!!!! THAT is the ANSWER TO ALL OF THIS!!!” Sadly, those moments are generally fleeting, as they are generally followed with “White people always,” or some other such statement.

Now I get that white people are still a majority, and I get that I don’t have to go back much further than my birth to find a country still deeply defined by racism against black people. I totally get that there are people alive today who actually lived under Jim Crow. I get that racism from white people, against not only black people, but against virtually everyone who was not white, is a big part of our history, and I totally get that this kind of racism is deeply wrong.

But I also get WHY it is wrong, and in understanding WHY such racism is wrong, I can see how other forms of racism are also wrong.

My dream is one of a color-blind society, in which we share common values in spite of our cultural differences, and in which we love one another. My dream was inspired by the dream of a man far greater than me, so allow me to close with the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

“I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'”