Politics & Policy

There Is a Profound Difference Between Justice and Identity Politics

“#MeToo” badges at a protest march in Hollywood, Calif., November 12, 2017. (Reuters photo: Lucy Nicholson)
The #MeToo movement must choose between an allegiance to identity politics and the pursuit of justice.

If you live long enough, you learn a simple, sad fact. Individual adversity does not necessarily build individual character. In other words, spend enough time in the real world and you’ll see people experience enormous challenges — like the loss of a spouse, the loss of a job, or severe illness — and quite simply collapse. They’ll disappear into the fog of depression. They’ll succumb to addiction. They’ll nurse a permanent sense of grievance that renders them incapable of maintaining functional human relationships.

In other words, the old phrase, “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is often a lie. A positive reaction to adversity isn’t inevitable. In fact, when we see people respond to adversity with courage and dignity, we applaud often because it’s extraordinary. We highlight and admire those who’ve come through the fire and emerged wiser and stronger because they offer insight and inspiration that’s often rare in American life.

Similarly, group adversity does not necessarily build group virtue. Again, this should be painfully obvious. We’ve seen oppressed populations abroad respond to adversity and pain by doubling down on vengeance and violence. At home, it’s hardly the case that membership in a historically marginalized community builds special strength and virtue in every member of that community. Indeed, in a country as large and diverse as ours, not every member of a historically marginalized community has faced meaningful adversity, and not every member of a historically powerful community has enjoyed privilege.

These truths should be self-evident, but they’re not. Consider this tweet from the Democratic party’s official account:

As with every social movement in our hyper-politicized time, #MeToo is at a crossroads. It can retain its focus on justice and maintain its extraordinary potency. Or it can devolve into just another partisan movement that attempts to carve America into ideologically uniform interest groups. The problem in our culture isn’t “men.” It’s individual males. The political answer isn’t “women” (or, more precisely, “progressive women”). It’s individuals who seek justice. Any other approach risks sacrificing real cultural progress for the sake of short-term political gain.

READ MORE:

#MeToo and the Trial by Mob

Beware the Rape Allegation Bandwagon

Where #MeToo Goes Off the Rails

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More