KEVIN LEININGER: When everybody’s a victim, nobody is really a friend — as ‘Women’s March’ drama proves
It’s been barely a week since I wrote about how the left’s embrace of identity politics would be “rendered unsustainable by the inevitability of conflict between aggrieved groups,” and already I’ve been proven right.
In the San Francisco suburb of Eureka, Calif., organizers of a planned Jan. 19 “Women’s March” have postponed the event over concerns participants “have been overwhelmingly white.” Instead, they are focusing on a March 9th event in conjunction with International Women’s Day “to ensure that the people most impacted by systems of oppression have an opportunity to participate in planning. We failed to have the type of collaboration needed to be inclusive of some of the most underrepresented voices in our community, namely, women of color and people who are gender non-conforming.”
To which march supporter Amy Sawyer Long replied, “I was appalled, to be honest. “I understand wanting a diverse group. However, we live in a predominantly white area . . . no matter the race, people want to be heard. How beneficial is it to cancel?
That was, presumably, a rhetorical question. No movement claiming to represent the downtrodden wants to be accused of failing to respect diversity, even when the minority group in this case — women — accounts for more than half of the population. No one has suggested the march’s organizers excluded anyone; they just didn’t do enough to recruit participants who previously showed little interest in the cause.
This approach is a perversion of the original civil-rights movement, which sought not to compel participation but to remove artificial barriers. Thus was the noble desegregation of public schools replaced with “racial balance,” with few of its enthusiasts stopping to notice that admission to the classroom was, once again, being influenced by race.
But that’s how it goes with the social engineers: When individual freedom fails to achieve the desired group results, the grievance industry will jump into action — such as when people demand equal pay for women without acknowledging wage discrimination is already illegal or that the “pay gap” is mostly a product of the choices women freely make.
In a sane world, nobody would really want to be a victim. But in the realm of identity politics, victimization is seen as the starting point on the road to success. Even a year ago supporters of the 2018 Women’s March in Washington were vowing to make it more inclusive because, as USA Today reported, “some underrepresented women felt their issues — such as racism, discrimination, police brutality, LGBTQ inclusivity and immigration — were relegated in favor of issues that matter mostly to straight, white, middle-class women.
“Gender justice is related to economic justice and racial justice and we have to think about all these things,” Native-American activist Ruth Hopkins told the newspaper. But, as it turned out, one of the people brought in to promote diversity, march co-president Tamika Mallory, has been linked to the Nation of Islam’s brazenly anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan, and the branch of the Women’s March in Chicago, headquarters of the Nation of Islam, has criticized any ties to Farrakhan.
The rift between some traditional feminists and transgender activists has also been well documented, with British feminist Dr. Heather Brunskell-Evans saying only last year that she had been threatened because “I don’t think trans women are women. My values are in line with protecting girls.”
So who, exactly, does the “Women’s March” represent? Straights? Gays? Whites? Minorities? Americans? Immigrants, legal or otherwise? Is it even possible to claim to represent all women, especially when pro-life groups have been told they are not welcome — not really women at all, in other words?
This is the trap practitioners of identity politics have set for themselves. When group membership and grievance is everything, the individual is nothing. Nobody would seriously claim to represent men’s or white people’s vast diversity of thought and experience; why should members of other groups be denied the same freedom to think and act for themselves?
Age has made me a bit more libertarian about such things. Live and let live. Unfortunately, there are people and whole groups out there masquerading as open sores determined to make everybody as miserable as they are. Like Greta Garbo, I just want to be left alone.
As a white male, do I have to apologize even for that now?
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at email@example.com or call him at 461-8355.