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

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More