Amid the deluge of terms and ideas pouring out of the culture wars and social justice movement, we find certain ones that stand out. One of these is the concept of intersectionality. Google offers us this definition:

the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

It is posited, under this concept, that one cannot understand the oppression another endures unless one considers the complete list of social identities (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability) and the complete list of forms of oppression (e.g. racism, classism, ableism, transphobia, religious bigotry).

So, in short, you cannot simply contemplate the societal obstacles a gay man faces without also factoring in whether he’s black, latino, asian, tall, short, physically disabled, Muslim, Buddhist, and so forth. Taking this to its logical conclusion, one cannot fully appreciate and respect what another endures without contemplating the entire package of identities.

Some of these identities are biological. Some of these are personal choice. While there are debates as to which ones fall into one or the other of these categories, it is beyond doubt that both categories apply. At the very least, religious belief is a choice, and ethnicity is not.

Thus, to fully understand another, and to proffer true respect for another under the tenets of intersectionality, we need to assess both that other was born as and the choices that other has made. Nowhere, however, have I seen intersectionality include political orientation as part of the “matrix,” and that’s a great shame. Why? Because one’s political beliefs are highly relevant to understanding how an individual interacts with society. And, why? Because diversity of political belief is anathema to the people who celebrate diversity of just about everything else.

We can probably assume that a liberal will feel some degree of discomfort at a fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist revival meeting, and we can probably assume that a conservative will feel some degree of discomfort at a gay pride event. Intersectionality demands, however, that we factor in all other identity markers before we can claim to have a proper sense of what each of these individuals might feel. Thus, not factoring in one’s political beliefs is disrespectful and untrue to the root principle.

Of course, that’s only true if this concept is to be applied in an even-handed manner. The reality, however, is that the notion of oppressor and oppressed that lies at the core of intersectionality presumes certain baselines and grants its consideration only to a subset of the populace. We all understand the presumption that whites start off as “privileged” and part of the oppressor class, and that everyone else is presumed oppressed. This makes intersectionality a one-way street – or, more aptly, a branching network of one-way streets, possibly cross-linked, but never two-way.

This tells us why political beliefs are not factored into intersectionality. There’s a one-way-street presumption, where those of certain leanings are oppressors and those of other leanings are oppressed. You can fill in the blanks. And, this is why people of color, of “other” sexual orientations, of non-cis-male gender, etc. who don’t self-identify as liberal are viewed with especial hatred. A black or gay or female conservative clogs up the flowchart, because one is not permitted to be part of any of the oppressed identity groups while being part of the oppressor political affiliation. Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas and Milo Yiannopoulos make the social justice crowd uncomfortable because they don’t conform to a rigid and mandated political ideology.

Herein lies insight into why the nation is so deeply divided ideologically. Nowhere are there messages of political inclusiveness, of it being OK to hang out with your political opposites, or of it even being OK to have diverse political beliefs. The social justice movement tells us that we should want to understand and associate with people whose skin color, religious belief, gender, orientation, ethnicity, etc are different than ours, but it tells us exactly the opposite about hanging out with and understanding those whose politics are different than ours. Many of us do, nevertheless, but the societal message is that, whereas diversity of everything else is to be recognized and celebrated (hold that thought), political differences are to be kept quiet, out of polite conversation, and shared only with one’s political peer group. Worse, many voices tell us we should actively castigate and shun those who are politically “diverse,” that we should hate those not like us, that it’s actually a good thing to engage in political bigotry. We see it all over the Internet, where people who wouldn’t dare utter a racist or sexist or homophobic word have absolutely no reservations in saying the vilest things about someone whose politics differs from their own.

And, herein lies a powerful reason why intersectionality and other high-minded social justice concepts will not take hold with the full spectrum of American political thought: when they are one-way in this fashion, they are neither fair nor just. When one’s political beliefs are presumed to be wrong, with no room for discussion, conciliation or compromise, one has no motivation to give fair consideration to new ideas, no matter those ideas’ merits.

If others won’t consider the societal pressures you might feel because your politics don’t agree with theirs, they’re essentially dismissing you as a person of no importance or relevance to them. Why, then, would you ever want to associate with them, or hear what they have to say? Societal ideals used to hold aloft the notions of [fill-in-the-blank]-blindness and the Golden Rule of treating others as you wish them to treat you, but the people at the fore of social justice theory have abandoned both those ideas in favor of a divisive, exclusionary, condescending, and often hateful philosophy, where certain identity groups are celebrated and told to embrace their different-ness, and other identity groups are told to shut up and live in a perpetual state of guilt. It’s no wonder, then, that those they seek to educate and enlighten have lost interest in what they have to say.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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