By pursuing identity-group politics, liberals are provoking the attacks they claim to deplore. What the Left ignores in their drive to remake America’s definition of rights is that there are consequences from severing rights from individuals and attaching them to groups. If groups can transfer benefits to their members, they can also transfer debits as well.
For some time, it has been impossible to miss that attacks on certain groups by other specific groups are emphasized, while identical attacks that do not fit the Left’s highlighted patterns are overlooked. Over the last year, this has reached a crescendo.
The Left’s prevailing narrative has been well established. Only episodes that fit it are noted, in order to reinforce their narrative; those that do not are ignored in order to prevent diluting it. The impression arising from such selective anecdotal emphasis is one of overwhelming assaults on some groups.
Of course, the reason for this approach is the Left’s promotion of identity-group politics. Identity-group politics is a powerful premeditated means by which the Left seeks to reorient American society and redistribute its resources in accordance to their own ends.
The bald transactional nature of the Left’s effort is readily apparent. Countless billions in federal, state, and local money is already being redirected. This effort’s transformational nature for America’s transmission of rights within society goes unrecognized.
Under the Left’s identity-group paradigm, rights are attached first and primarily to groups. This primary attachment of rights to groups means they are no longer first attached to individuals. Instead, individuals receive their rights by virtue of their membership in a group. Instead of individuals having primary and absolute control of their rights, they have only secondary and relative claims to them.
The Left’s view of identity-group-defined rights is antithetical to the American perception of rights as codified in the Constitution. Based on our revolutionary heritage, America consciously sought to sever rights from those groups of its British heritage — especially class. As a result, our Constitution attaches every right it enumerates to individuals (versus rights given to government entities).
The Left consciously seeks to redistribute (and by no means equally) our individual rights to identity-groups, which they define. Despite the misapprehension of some, the Left’s annulment of constitutional individual-based rights is not accidental, but in fact entirely intentional. Frequently, it is quite explicit. The Left’s attacks on our Founders and the rewriting of our history are both levers for their intended reordering of rights.
What the Left ignores, and what they want the rest of America to not see, is that their new connection of rights with identity-groups and away from individuals is a powerful conduit. It is a broad boulevard along which more than just rights can travel.
If benefits are validly transferred from the identity-group to its members, then so too are the identity-group’s debits. It is a two-way street, one we are seeing increasingly occurring, to the detriment of individual safety.
For some time, the Left has identified the police as acceptable targets for violence they perceive and define as retribution. Following the Left’s logic of taint by identity-group, Chinese and Asian Americans have become targets for China’s role in COVID. When the Left universally condemned Israel’s self-defense from Hamas rocket attacks, anti-Semitic attacks increased. Seizing the same principle of transmission of identity-group debits to its members, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot can publicly discriminate against white reporters.
What most are too afraid to say or too blind to see is that the Left’s insistence on attaching rights to the identity-group means detaching them from the individual. Ownership of rights collectively means that no one owns them individually. The rapid outcome, and one we are witnessing daily, is that the Left’s identity-group politics means an end to individually possessed rights.
The result of the Left’s rights redistribution means that attacks on members of disapproved identity-groups (police officers, men, etc.) make twisted sense to the Left. This is why so little condemnation of these attacks is heard from the Left — and so often none at all.
This lack of condemnation, or outright commendation, is not simply the Left’s hypocrisy or a blind defense of its narrative. It is an entirely new assignment of rights with entirely predictable and deplorable results.
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.