2017-08-30 / Letters

Identity politics alive & well

Dear Editor:

There were no “very fine people” among the torch bearing marchers in Charlottesville on Friday, August 11. Not one. “Very fine people” do not shout “The Jews will not replace us,” do not chant the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” and do not march with those shouting those phrases.

The new Nazis’ march was the continuation of the identity politics practiced by racists, and condoned by their apologists, from the beginning of the republic to today. Identity politics justified slavery. As Robert E. Lee put it in 1856, slavery was justified because for blacks were inferior, and the “painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction.”

These identity politics continued until 1954 by means of legally enforced segregation. Even after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, identity politics by racists against blacks has continued.

Blacks were not the only targets of the identity politics of racists and their apologists. Identity politics justified breaking treaties with Native American tribes, and resulted in the Trail of Tears.

Identity politics was not restricted to oppression of non-caucasians. They were employed against Catholics because of their version of Christianity. In 1844, mobs burned Catholic churches in Philadelphia. Mark Twain said he had been “educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic.” The KKK opposed everything Catholic. In 1960, John F. Kennedy faced opposition because he was not a protestant.

Anti-Semitism is simply identity politics against Jews. Anti-Semitism was made to sound respectable by designating various organizations as “restricted.” As Charlottesville showed, this virulent form of identity politics is alive and well.

Identity politics supported the alien and sedition acts of 1798, the Chinese exclusion act of 1882, and the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.

Having used identity politics to maintain their status for over two centuries, racists and their apologists now condemn others who stand up for themselves. But there is a fundamental difference between the identity politics of racists and that of groups like Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter does not insist that only the lives of black people count. Racists and their apologists continue their insistence that their lives and rights matter more than those of others; the Charlottesville mob also chanted. “You will not replace us.”

The Joint Chiefs have it right. As General Lengyel said: “Our diversity is our strength.” The identity politics exemplified by the Friday night Charlottesville marchers is indefensible. The apologists for those people should be ashamed of themselves.

Garry Geffert

Martinsburg

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By Mr. Geffert's meaning you

By Mr. Geffert's meaning you could label identity politics on anyone or anything. I saw no torchbearers in news in Charlottesville. There are those who want to preserve history with no malice. In his meaning, I could label liberals identity politics, against anything or anyone conservative. How about ID politics against President he's faced with? How about ID politics against criminal intent of BLM and Antifa to overthrow gov't or undermine Constitution. What about Id politics against those with Confederate soldier heritage--who were not slave owners or slavery advocates by the tens of thousands. BLM as evidenced in their photos and marches shouts death to cops. How is that OK? See also our comment on the Rebel Monuments letter.