Racism and Identity Politics


Four new members of Congress are radically on the left. Most have heard of Ilan Omer, who spoke with anti-Semitic tropes that offended many mainstream American Jewish leaders. In Israel, the statements of the radical four have been noted as virulently anti-Israel. However, in this post, I want to speak about their effect on the constant claim that those who oppose them are racists. The accusation of racism is now bandied about against any who disagree with their policy positions. This shuts down the debate. President Trump is a racist despite his meeting with Black business leaders and having Blacks in his administration who vouch for him. The phenomenon is called identity politics and is tearing the country apart. One of the problems with identity politics is that it offends the majority of non-minority Americans and many minorities as well. The big problem is that if everything is racism then real racism, which does exist in America, cannot be clearly identified and fought. Eventually, the destructive nature of it will be clear as it spins out of control.

Two recent examples are pronounced. One is from Alexandria Ocasia Cortez, the recently elected congresswoman from New York. She actually implied that racism motivated the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, due to her passing legislation she disagreed with and then dismissed the power of her circle in its opposition. Cortez said it was connected to the four being women of color. Just a side note, last time I looked, Cortez’s skin is very white. I wonder what she would find if she took a genetic test. Cortez himself might have been an ancestor! He was the conquistador that did not treat the natives well! But Pelosi a racist? Wow!!

The second example is Colin Kaepernick, who recently got Nike to remove a patriotic theme sneaker with the original American flag of the 13 stars. He claimed it was from a time when there was slavery and had bad associations. Nike caved and pulled the sneaker. Yet the flag was designed by the anti-slavery abolitionist pre-feminist Betsey Ross who had Quaker roots. How does this help the country if even the good aspects of its history are destroyed by false claims?

In Israel, we face a very different reality. There were major demonstrations with some violence by Ethiopian Jews in Israel who claim that they are subject to racism. The proximate cause was the death of a young Ethiopian Jew by an off duty policeman. The big difference in Israel is that all admit that racism is a problem and that for years there was discrimination against Sephardic Jews by the dominant Ashkenazic Jews. Now the discrimination is with the Ethiopians. However, in Israel, there was a response admitting a real problem to be addressed, including from the conservatives and the liberals.