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CASTELLI: Prejudice often results from identity politics

Opinions Column: Conservative Across the Aisle

I believe in empowerment to the individual, limited government and the Constitution. Based on these values, I tend to agree with conservative positions and lean Right on issues, such as the economy, the military and personal responsibility. I am who I am because of my values. I also happen to be a woman. My womanhood has never defined me nor prevented me from pursuing my goals. My identity as a woman is but a small fraction of who I am. I let my beliefs and principles be the judgement of my character and hope that others view me as an individual rather than part of a homogenous collective group, political or otherwise.

It comes as no surprise to professors and students alike that academia tends to lean ideologically liberal. In recent decades, though, the concentration of radical Leftist philosophy has overrun college campuses to the point where students are advocating for the segregation of different racial groups. This phenomenon developed in part by the emergence of identity politics, a theory that political decisions should hinge on the shared experiences of constituents of different social groups. Rather than organizing around belief systems, the unifying thread of these social groups are often distinct oppressed characterizations, such as race, gender or sexual orientation. They are sorted by skin-deep traits that leave very little room for ideas and independent thought to be explored. Identity politics does not view members of social groups as self-determining individuals, but as pieces of a whole. 

When individuals in these groups do not let their affiliation with other members shape their identity, they are often ostracized and labeled as traitors. These dissidents are accused of being misinformed, uneducated or simply ignorant. This occurrence, while popularized by the Left, is not exclusive to it nor does it define liberalism as a whole. The newly emerging alt-right and other white identitarian politics is the Left’s complimentary fringe. They fear that their identities are being threatened, and thus band together to combat this supposed impending crisis. The issue of identity politics infecting the political landscape is bipartisan. 

The nature of identity politics allows for groups to control the way one thinks, speaks and consequently votes. The Left is guilty of perpetrating this, inside the political arena and the classroom. Women and other minority groups who lean Right often find themselves swiftly abandoned by the same people they rally for and shunned by their classmates for "wrongthink." Leftists believe they have a monopoly over minority groups and harshly lash out at anyone who decides to let their own values dictate who they are. These groups did not fight for liberation to be told how they ought to think or vote — they are not obliged to believe anything because a group told them to.

To presuppose a group of people to think and act a certain way is a form of prejudice. Dave Rubin, host of the YouTube series "The Rubin Report," believes that by assuming the way one ought to think about political issues, “you (are locking) people into your preconceived notions of what they are” and “(stifling) the voices of the minorities within these minorities.” People often sort and are sorted by these fixed boxes, whether inwardly or outwardly, and are predetermined with a party affiliation without taking into account an individual’s ideas or beliefs. Guy Benson, a conservative talk show radio personality, revealed that he was homosexual in a footnote in his book, "End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun)." Instead of lazily attacking the appearance of the opponent, conservatives and liberals should strive to have civil and open discussion about issues. The prevalence of identity politics prevents that discourse from ever occurring, because it equates a criticism on a certain policy to an attack on a minority group. This unproductive game of victimhood must end if America is to move forward.

I do not owe women or any other group loyalty because we share some superfluous, superficial characteristic. People should be judged by their actions and personality, not by any physical attribute. To call me a “gender traitor” or state that I have “internalized misogyny,” demonstrates just how tolerant the Left really is. Am I not allowed to think for myself? Doesn't feminism advocate for the freedom for women to choose their own destinies? I believe I make myself clear: no group claiming ownership over me is entitled to a damn thing. 

Giana Castelli is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Her column, "Conservative Across the Aisle," runs on alternate Fridays.


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