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Devolution of the Demos' 'identity politics' constituencies
By Mark Alexander
Every day, my inbox is filled with a wide range of email — from the Communist Party USA on the Left to the John Birch Society on the Right. The best way to understand the strategies and tactics used by the adversaries of Liberty and Rule of Law is to go straight to the source. And frankly, the political and policy positions of the CPUSA and the statist Democrat Party leadership today constitute a distinction without much difference.
In the evenings, I work my way through a queue of documentaries, which my wife sometimes tolerates but often enjoys. Last week, one of those was a new Netflix release, "The Rachel Divide" — the bizarre but fascinating story of Rachel Dolezal.
Dolezal, as you may recall, is the award-winning black woman who formerly led the office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in her hometown of Spokane, Washington. Dolezal also taught African-American studies at Eastern Washington University.
Problem is, Dolezal isn't actually black. She was, and remains, a Caucasian woman, a Euro-American who shamelessly passed herself off as Afro-American for years, even rising to a very public position within the NAACP until a reporter called her out on the lie.
After being outed, Dolezal adopted a popular leftist rationale for her delusion — that while she wasn't actually black, she identified as black. You know, kind of like Sen. Elizabeth "Honest Injun" Warren (D-MA), who delusionally self-identifies as Native American, insisting, "It's part of who I am and no one's ever going to take that away." (Before being exposed, Warren had listed herself as a "minority" in law professor applications for her jobs at the University of Texas, University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.)
For the last two years, Dolezal's "transracial" assertion that she "was biologically born white, but I identify as black" has stirred up a family feud in the "identity" movement arena.
On one side, her critics accuse her of committing "cultural appropriation" — stealing cultural identity. On the other side, her defenders say that her black identity is authentic and should not be subject to biology.
Doreen St. Felix, an actual black woman, who reviewed the Dolezal documentary for The New Yorker, concluded that Netflix's promotion of the film and Dolezal's life as constituting a "microcosm for a larger conversation about race and identity" is an overstatement. Dolezal has been subject to a lot of well-deserved outrage by black folks who don't appreciate the ruse. Both Democrats and their black constituency fear that Dolezal's definition of racial identity is a threat to the "black community," as it might dilute that constituency.
Of course, it's understandable why there might be some confusion over the legitimacy of her identity issues. After all, leftists have insisted for years that "sexual identity" (gender dysphoria) is completely legitimate regardless of biology. In other words, when politically expedient, identity trumps reality, but the law of unintended consequences is exposing some political problems on the horizon.
Unfortunately for Dolezal, unlike the LBGTQIA (ad nauseam) alphabet of sexuality, racial dysphorics don't have the backing of the Democrat Party's largest and most loyal voter bloc, single women.
However, asserting that "sexual identity" has nothing to do with biology is as phony as Dolezal's racial identity argument as well as an extraordinary example of leftist hypocrisy.
Dolezal is now touring the country promoting her life story, In Full Color, which, despite national book tour appearances, has enjoyed abysmal sales. She has also changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, meaning "Gift of God Beloved Bold," perhaps because she is now identifying as African-Who-Knows-What.
But beyond the Dolezal delusion, the "identity politics" that Democrats began embracing 30 years ago have now devolved into fractious groups based on an absurd range of "self-identities." The consequences of the "diversity" movement have dire implications for the unity embodied in our nation's original motto, "E pluribus unum." (This motto, originally a reference to unity of the states during the American Revolution, is now commonly used to reference unity of diverse peoples making up the once-great melting pot of American citizens.)
As historian Victor Davis Hanson observes, "The Roman Empire worked as long as Iberians, Greeks, Jews, Gauls and myriad other African, Asian and European communities spoke Latin, cherished habeas corpus and saw being Roman as preferable to identifying with their own particular tribe. ... For some reason, contemporary America believes that it can reject its uniquely successful melting pot to embrace a historically dangerous and discredited salad-bowl separatism. ... Given our racial fixations, we may soon have to undergo computer scans of our skin colors to rank competing claims of grievance."
For 200 years, European-American immigrants and the generations that followed were united behind constitutional republicanism. But with the social and cultural entropy of the 1960s, that unity began to disintegrate. In recent decades, ethnocentric divisions have emerged, and, most notably, those divisions have become significant politically manufactured obstacles to the integration of immigrants coming to America.
In 1991, I acquired a copy of Arthur Schlesinger's book, The Disuniting of America, now a benchmark classic on ethnocentric divisions. As a distinguished Harvard professor and former senior advisor to JFK, Schlesinger condemned the orthodoxy of self-interested hyphenated-Americanism — those who, rather than unifying to become one, were diversifying to become many. He warned that the cult of ethnicity would result in "the fragmentation and tribalization of America," the natural consequence being that these special interest groups would be co-opted by the political parties.
"Instead of a transformative nation with an identity all its own," Schlesinger prophetically wrote, "America increasingly sees itself in this new light as preservative of diverse alien identities — groups ineradicable in their ethnic character." He asserted, by way of inquiry, "Will the melting pot give way to the Tower of Babel?"
At the time it was published, Schlesinger's leftist colleagues ostracized him for daring to break ranks with the Democrats' racial orthodoxy playbook, their politics of disunity and their "divide and conquer" strategy.
Schlesinger boldly argued that a stress on ethnicity has benefits, but "its underlying philosophy is that the United States is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups, that ethnicity is the defining experience for Americans." This ethnocentric dogma, he warned, "replaces assimilation by fragmentation, integration by separatism. It belittles unum and glorifies pluribus."
Schlesinger warned that the cult of ethnicity manifesting as subgroup ethnocentric identities would divide the nation, thus putting at risk the patriotic devotion that has bonded previous generations of immigrants into one nationality.
He noted that assimilation has always been the basis for our strong national foundation. He quoted from Jean de Crèvecoeur's 1782 letter: "He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds... Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men."
Today, almost three decades after "The Disuniting of America was published, ethnocentricity has become a centerpiece of Schlesinger's once-noble Democrat Party. Democrats have divided our nation into constituent identity groups based upon race, creed, gender, religion, ethnicity, wealth, ad infinitum. Of all those divisions, the highest percentage Demo voter bloc is racial — black voters. More than 90% of black voters have been duped into believing that Democrat race-bait political hustlers, who promote "black privilege," actually think "black lives matter" beyond being voter constituency pawns.
But the unbridled identity fragmentation today may also be the disuniting of the Democrat Party, as some of its strictly defined constituencies begin to dissociate from the traditional Demo-definitions. Leftist political analyst John Judis, who once endorsed identity politics in his book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, now writes, "The U.S. census makes a critical assumption that undermines its predictions of a majority-nonwhite country. It projects that the same percentage of people who currently identify themselves as 'Latino' or 'Asian' will continue to claim those identities in future generations. In reality, that's highly unlikely."
Whether Democrats' divide-and-conquer strategy to disunite Americans will continue to succeed as it has in the past remains to be seen. But this accelerating identity disintegration that threatens the Democrat Party most assuredly threatens our nation.
George Washington warned, "We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it."
The Democrat Party stopped pretending decades ago.
(Footnote: Ironically, the same racial orthodoxy crowd that strenuously objected to Dolezal's efforts to pass as black are now insisting that rapper Kanye West is trying to pass himself off as white because he dared break racial ranks by not condemning Donald Trump.)
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.