The radical left proponents of identity politics and the promoters of victim status, are presenting a most incoherent view, called intersectionality. Intersectionality teaches a linkage between the oppressed groups in the world who have been oppressed by the privileged groups. All oppressed groups are linked and related. If you are the privileged, you had better grovel and act ashamed. So who are the inter=sectionally connected oppressed? They are black people, Hispanic immigrants and especially illegal immigrants, Native Americans, women and Palestinians. Just how these are all linked is hard to defend and basically incoherent. Who are the oppressors? White men. White male hatred is pervasive. The real link is some connection somewhere to white men and their injustices. This is in part due to the fact that white Europeans were the colonial powers whose nations were led by white men. The products of white males is to be despised. In the liberal arts, the question is asked in literature and philosophy why it should be required to study the works of dead white men? Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas were all white males. So also Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Cervantes! One of the interesting aspects of this movement is that though the Jews have been the most persecuted group in history, in intersectionality they are part of the white privileged class because they are successful and are doubly evil because they are the colonial European imposition on the indigenous colored Palestinian people.
The identity politics people have a point. It is that much oppression from colonialism, slavery, and indifference to the plight of the needy came from white men. However, so has the greatest advances in science, medicine, political theory (re: constitutional democratic government) social progress and so much more came from white men. The end of slavery was due to the work of dead white men. So also great literary achievements came from white men and I would add white women. However, judging people on the basis of their color and dividing people on DNA is foolish indeed. Let’s look just a little deeper and see the foolishness of all of this. Despising white people means despising all European nations, and despising Russians and Ukrainians as well. In addition, only some European nations became colonial powers. But the selective choice of who is the oppressor is amazing. What of the oppression in North Korea, past Japanese domination, Chinese persecution of its Muslims and Tibetans, or Russia dominating Ukraine? What of the oppression from the privileged Indians to the lower class Indians and the caste system? The issue of the oppression of women and Christians in Muslim countries is left out. We forget that many Hispanics are not people of color but quite white and descended from Spanish Europeans. It is hard not to conclude that the lumping together is arbitrary and subjective.
We can go on and on. When a people gain power, it is too often the case that they exercise that power to the detriment of those who do not have power, whether within a nation or between nations. This is so in world history, not just European history. The answer is not to dismiss Western cultural gains from which much of our freedom comes, but to have a consensus on applying the values of freedom to benefit all. The Bible teaches that we are to give ourselves to lift the marginalized. This is an absolute value in the Bible. If the marginalized are more concentrated in one ethnic group over another, they should get the disproportionate investment of time, energy and resources to lift them, but not by dividing society along ethnic lines. White poor in Appalachia for example have been in as great need. As an Israeli, I do have concern for the treatment of Palestinians, but to think of Israel as a white colonial imposition in this land is so far afield it is hard to know where to begin to respond. If Israel was embraced by the Palestinians, they would bring prosperity to the Palestinians. This is the case with Israeli Arabs already who are far more prosperous than other many other Arab people in other nations. The intersectionality left is a destructive force indeed.
Juster is founding director of the Tikkun network of congregations and has served in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972.