“Identity politics” & the struggle against oppression

santa claus

“Identity politics” have come under an avalanche of attacks in the past few decades. The primary criticism is that they are divisive of some supposed unity. There could not be a more banal criticism or one more rooted in LaLa Land. The ruptures in society are not caused by women or oppressed peoples standing up to oppose persecution but by the persecution which is always violent & includes psychological warfare to demean or efface identity.

A unity that can only be achieved by pretending everything is hunky-dory is a false one. Political power to end these monstrous persecutions is the goal of identity politics–& political power is what is being opposed under the guise of solidarity & phony-assed unity.

Is it possible to remove women, Blacks, Muslims, & others from the vicious campaigns against them & make oppression a generic thing? How does that work? Was it possible under fascism to remove Jews, Roma, & others from being targeted for holocaust? Would the pogroms against Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar cease if they change their identity to Buddhist? Will Israel cease ethnic cleansing of Palestinians if they reconcile themselves to colonialism & accept Israel’s insistence that they never existed as a people?

This AP photo is captioned “An Israeli Arab Christian boy dressed up as Santa Claus waits for the start of the annual Christmas parade in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, Israel, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015.” That would be the mother of all identity thefts. “Israeli Arabs” call themselves Palestinians & they do so as an assertion of their political & cultural identity.The switch in terminology is nothing more than a political construct by Israel to efface the political identity of the Palestinian people & their historic connection & claims to Palestine.

When media uses “Israeli Arab” instead of Palestinian, they are making a political stand with Israeli colonialism & one that should be rejected. A phenomenon which social psychologists should try to explain is why the oppressed have to fight the oppressors about what they are called. There are hundreds of abusive epithets used for the simple identity of woman. People struggle over what to call Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans in the US, the oppressed castes in India, & numerous ethnic & indigenous groups around the world.

Well the deal is that the oppressor doesn’t get to rename the oppressed to efface our identities. Part of the struggle for freedom & justice demands we reclaim our own names & our unique identities & demand we be treated with respect.

Build & honor the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS) to stand with Palestinians within Israel & the occupied territories.

(Photo by Ariel Schalit/AP)