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The conservative idea of “identity politics” is sheltered and oblivious and needs consideration.

In one of the latest incidents in US police brutality Stephon Clark, a father of two, was in his grandmother’s backyard holding a cellphone when police shot him twenty times. Fatally. [Correction: eight bullets hit him, they fired 20 times.] Drawing attention to this, calling this outrageous and demanding it end is a no-brainer. It’s not a partisan cause or some niche side-interest to take up unless you think black people are only secondary members of society.

Maybe conservatives would care about it more if framed as an issue of government overreach, as in it’s wrong to spend tax dollars (often a huge salary) on government workers who don’t just fail to do their jobs, they literally kill sovereign citizens. 

In the age of video, white people need to be wilfully ignorant to still believe the innocent people killed posed a reasonable threat to police, that police were justified to feel their lives were at risk.

Stephon Clark was unarmed on his grandmother’s property and they shot him 20 times.

Philando Castile was calmly telling police he had a gun in his glove compartment before they shot him dead in front of his wife and child—it was licensed and they were in an open-carry  state and the entire interaction lasted about 40 seconds. The examples go on and on.

There are also multiple incidents of white people carrying machine guns brought in alive by police, even after they killed people or even after they pointed the guns at police.

The difference is instructive and extremely damning. The problem isn’t that these white people are brought in alive by cops—that’s a good thing. It’s that evidently police feel more threatened by an unarmed black man than a white man pointing a gun at them.

Police couldn’t be failing more to meet any standard of discretion, let alone the high one required before society should grant them the right to use lethal force on citizens.

Let’s do a thought experiment: if you didn’t know to what race you belonged and were told of two problems plaguing society, the first encouraging the use of trans-approved pronouns and the second state agents killing people with the court system’s permission, what would you say is a bigger problem?

Conservatives here are single-mindedly fixated on changing pronouns for two reasons: even the slightest accommodation they’re asked to make feels oppressive because people in power are used to demanding not accommodating, and conservatives are utterly sheltered from actual social problems.

Even if you thought that government control of language was only a prelude to gulags, the police are already killing people with the state’s permission. Why are those frothing mad about what they claim is potential fascism silent on what’s already happening?

Because conservatives only care about their identity politics.

Consider how natural it is for the conservative to see his identity mirrored in NFL pregame ceremonies, with Navy or Army veterans singing the anthem with a brass band, an American flag seen from space and fighter jets screaming over the field in formation.

They don’t even term this “identity politics” because it’s just the default way of doing things. But what else is it?

Conservatives feel under siege when their identity politics pre-game ritual is even slightly altered, so slightly nobody even saw Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the anthem for weeks until a reporter caught on and asked him about it. They were deaf to the fighter jets but the man silently kneeling pierces their ears. Think about that.

Conservatives often get offended when you tell them that actually the flag and fighter jets are blatantly identity politics, especially the kind of conservative who brags about how they cannot be offended.

In the way conservative’s invoke the supposedly sacrosanct right to own guns but defend police for killing a black person because they claim the black person was holding one, conservative fury at Kaepernick exposes their sham concern for free speech and the right to protest.

Identity politics is politics and the stakes are high. The FBI is surveilling Black Lives Matter activists, like they did Martin Luther King Jr, calling them “black identity extremists.” In other words, the feds are potentially criminalizing innocent black people joining a group that is peacefully responding to innocent black people being killed by police. Think about that circular logic.

Identity and politics are seldom separated. So for people to minimize what is literally a life and death issue marginalized communities face as mere “identity politics”? Anyone who does this must take a hard look at themselves and ask why.

Hopefully conservatives reading this won’t become defensive. I know political alignment is mostly determined by Clan Loyalty and it’s hard to break group ties and emotional bonds. Just, really consider what you actually believe and why.