Joe Biden and the Racist Underbelly of Identity Politics
The controversy following Joe Biden’s “ain’t black” comment last Friday, has tended to overlook the real significance of the story.
When Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the upcoming November election, said that African Americans who are considering voting for President Trump “ain’t black,” he reflected the racism that has become central to the woke orthodoxy of identity politics.
Biden has spent his career aligning himself with a style of resentment-based identity politics that divides society into a zero-sum conflict between competing tribes. Integral to this ideology is a readiness to stereotype people based on group identity, or to insist that skin color can determine the set of ideological precepts that a person should endorse. This is the same philosophy that led Ayanna Pressley (D. Congresswoman, Mass) to go on television last year and declare:
“We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice.”
Pressley’s comments, like Biden’s recent remarks, serve a useful purpose in pulling back the curtain on identity politics to show its affinity with historic racism, including white supremacist movements.
Earlier generations of racists felt confident maintaining that identity is fixed in nature, with nature largely determined by race. Those who succumbed to these racial ideas saw little problem pigeon-holing individuals into segments of a stratified society based on their group identity, on the assumption that a person’s skin color and ethnic origin ought to determine their social role.
The neo-racists of the contemporary left also treat identity as something fixed in nature, so that a person’s race anchors him or her to certain social and ideological obligations. For example, left-leaning politicians see little problem pigeon-holing individuals into belief-patterns based on their group identity, on the assumption that someone’s skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual preferences ought to determine their political beliefs. Accordingly, someone with a “brown face” who does not have a “brown political voice” is a race traitor, having betrayed group unity.
Identity politics has become so central to our political landscape that it ceases to shock us. Moreover, the tribalism that identity politics assumes has become such a part of the taken-for-granted background of our political landscape that many who consider themselves conservative have begun succumbing to the basic narrative. Race-based ideology has also been making inroads into the corporate sector, as I discussed in my “Parting Shot” for Salvo #52. In that article, I observed that:
“Pigeon-holing people based on race is now routine within corporate America thanks to equity policies. The basic idea behind equity policies goes something like this: the different races all have their own perspective; therefore, in order for our corporation to have a access to all the perspectives, we need to put policies in place that enforce racial stratification. This theory might make some sense if members of each racial group thought and acted as a uniform block, but this is far from the case. As Jordan Peterson observed in an interview, 'It’s such a pernicious philosophy because it’s predicated on the idea that the way someone thinks is inextricably tied with their group identity.' In another interview he warned that dividing people up into groups leads to 'an enhancement of our tribal proclivities.'”
And this brings us back to Biden, who seems to also assume that how someone thinks is inextricably tied to group identity. For example, the former Vice President has emphasized the race and gender of his forthcoming VP pick more than other qualifications, apparently on the assumption that skin color and gender (or, better yet, their intersection) forms a key qualification for the job. He has also declared that he would base future court-appointments on skin-color. We get a sense of how racist this is when we consider similar comments made by segregationists throughout history, who also saw no problem in basing jobs on skin color.
It is true that Biden backtracked from his remark that Trump-supporting blacks “ain’t black.” Significantly, however, he has not retracted the underlying ideology that his remarks reflected, nor has he backtracked from the race-based worldview that informs every aspect of his political thinking.
This is the real story behind Biden’s careless remarks. His comments do more than simply reveal that he is blunder-prone, or that he takes the black vote for granted. Rather, they reveal the racist underbelly of the Democratic party: not quasi-racism, not reverse-racism, but classic, historic racism.
is the author of Gratitude in Life's Trenches: How to Experience the Good Life Even When Everything Is Going Wrong (Ancient Faith 2020). He has a Master's in history from King’s College, London, and is currently working on a Master’s in Library Science through the University of Oklahoma. He is Blog & Media Managing Editor for the Fellowship of St. James and a frequent contributor to Salvo and Touchstone magazines. He operates a blog at www.robinmarkphillips.com.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2022 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/you-are-what-you-vote