It's been building for a while now. It's a school of thought that has evolved in response to the critical issues raised by groups arguing for equality and the even more critical need to dismiss those issues. I have resisted this new intellectual movement, but last week's cataract of accusations and editorials around the Women's March all over the world have made it impossible to ignore. In an effort to embrace this alternative lens through which to view the past, I bring you Great Moments in Identity Politics History.
EXT. 10 DOWNING STREET – DAY: "Look, Mrs. Pankhurst, I understand you're upset, but you need to be aware that your demand for 'Votes for Women' is not an appealing message to those who really don't want women to vote. Votes for the disenfranchised is a very trendy cause right now but would it not be better to forgo symbolic victories and concentrate on widening your base among traditional voters? I would try to encourage your supporters to chain themselves to various railings around town and demand that men get two votes. Maybe they'll toss one your way, if you're nice, and put that rock down."
INT. A TAVERN IN WESTMINSTER – NIGHT: "I'm just so tired of these colonial snowflakes demanding I call them 'Americans.' All of a sudden being British subjects isn't good enough for them any more. It's part of our entitled 'Everyone gets a democracy' ribbon culture. Political correctness is out of control these days, you don't pander to someone's 'national identity' and before you know it everyone's waving muskets and running around shouting 'The British are coming, the British are coming!' hysterically.
"I don't think you can blame the By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Archtreasurer and Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg class for feeling alienated by talk of 'taxation without representation.' Taxing people and not providing them with representation is what his people have always done. His father taxed unrepresented people, he taxed unrepresented people and I am sure that one day he hoped his son would follow him into the family business of taxing people without giving them representation."
EXT. A DESERT – DAY: "What's with all this 'Let my people' go stuff, Moses? I'm hearing a lot of 'me' words here. You'll never gain the support you need from pharaoh-class Egyptians with that kind of message. Try 'Let all people go.' Now is not the time for division; parting the Red Sea is the real racism."
EXT. GOLGOTHA – DAY: "I know a lot of people are going to talk about suffering of Christ, but who'll spare a moment for the forgotten silent majority of people who came out today hoping for a nice crucifixion, not a lecture, and then had to listen to him shame them from the cross?
All that 'Forgive them father, they know not what they do' rhetoric is very alienating to the fallen and wicked. Those everyday, hard-working, execution watchers know exactly what they are doing. That kind of ivory-tower elitism is why Caesar won. Just because you have a bunch of fancy-pants titles like 'Messiah,' 'Saviour of mankind,' or 'Son of God and according to the doctrine of the Trinity, also literally God, creator of the universe' doesn't mean you know better than them. That's not how you earn the support of the spiritually insecure, Jesus, and you're not going to win without them."
EXT. ORLÉANS – DAY: "Okay, Maid of Orléans, I get that your people are locked in a hundred-year war with the House of Plantagenet, rulers of England, but do you have to be so militant about it? "I can see, Ms. Arc, that you have a lot emotionally invested in this whole 'French Pride' thing, but people have a right to expect a family-friendly conflict here. Quite frankly, you're losing a lot of potential support with all this flamboyant banner waving. In what way does running around in gender-inappropriate clothing or, by some accounts, completely nude, help your cause?"
EXT. ROBBEN ISLAND – DAY: "All I'm asking – what is it they call you? Madiba? – is that you focus on the economy. I feel your movement is attempting to mix social reform with politics and that never works. Boycotts don't work. Boycotts only harm the most vulnerable. Thankfully, the most vulnerable are always lucky enough to have the least vulnerable articulate this concern for them. Remember, a rising tide floats all boats! Oh, I know in the metaphor we don't actually let your people own boats, Mr. Mandela, but do you really want to go down in history as the guy who deprived his people of the opportunity to scrub the decks of more elevated vessels?"
EXT. A BUS IN MONTGOMERY – DAY: "I just think you're being a bit reactive, Ms. Parks. Focusing on 'micro-aggressions' just opens up your movement to ridicule. It's a seat on a bus, for heaven's sake, and I don't see how being intractable about the issue, or refusing to weigh the concerns of people who really don't want to sit next to black people can win you anything, Rosa. Now, let's try a round of 'We Shall Not Be Distracted By Special Interests.'"
EXT. ASLALI, INDIA – DAY: "I'm sorry? You're marching to the sea to make salt? Look, Mr. Gandhi, if you worked hard, went to school, maybe got a law degree you could afford to buy salt. It seems to me this march of yours is just more of the kind of attention-seeking behaviour that understandably raises economic anxiety within the imperial community and that can only lead to more instability. No one wants instability! And George V. Lives Matter, Mahatma."
INT. CASTRO CAMERA, SAN FRANCISCO – DAY: "I understand your frustration, Mr. Milk, but you need to recognize that when you point out that you're gay while working to articulate a vision for the community you represent, many of whom are also gay – so, a vision informed by your knowledge and empathy – that's 'identity politics.' And that's just doomed to fail. When straight people point out that you're gay and articulate a very different vision for the community you represent, a vision informed by six beers and their complete abject ignorance of your community, that's a 'refreshing lack of political correctness.' And we shouldn't be too judgey.
"Let me draw an analogy for you here, Harvey. When a white man runs for office in Mayberry and is responsive to his constituent's demand for, say, a stoplight at 12th and Main, that's politics. When a black man runs for office in Not-Mayberry and is responsive to his constituent's request that 'We don't need another stop sign, we get stopped all the time,' that's 'identity politics.'
"When a straight, white man stands up before a crowd and says 'I feel your pain,' he will generally be understood – as the avatar of America – to be feeling the pain of everyone there, so he's uniting. If a black man, a woman, an openly gay person, a transgender person or a Muslim were to stand up and say the exact same thing, to the exact same crowd, he or she would be playing some kind of card, a very whiny card, and being – kinda – divisive, don't you think?
"My advice is, if you must try anything at all like this, try, 'I feel your pain, but recognize that things could be much worse for me and I shouldn't get too upset about it.'"
EXT. NARVA GATE, ST. PETERSBURG – DAY: "All I am saying is, have you tried reaching out to Czar Nicholas, the Bloody… ?"