On the modern left, identity politics has proven to be nothing more than finding the most oppressed group possible and then encouraging virtue signaling from guilt-ridden privileged groups.
Protests, usually against right-leaning speakers, have engulfed college campuses and been plastered on the news. These events seem to happen daily, and the protest movement appears to be infecting Ole Miss as well. Radical leftist protestors like the ones at University of California at Berkeley, Middlebury, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now Ole Miss, seek only to destroy (or unname in the unfair case of Ed Meek). SASI, or “Students Against Social Injustice,” has been protesting the Confederate statue on campus since November.
The fact that SASI is participating as part of the radical left by “rebelling” against a statue built in 1906, rather than addressing a real issue facing the state, shows how luxurious their lives are.
On average, students in the Delta test 16 percent lower than the statewide average, but you rarely hear the SASI students speaking for them or trying to build or improve anything. Instead of rallying behind a worthy cause, the “socially conscious” protestors march on a statue.
Sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning first analyzed this phenomenon in their 2014 paper “Microaggressions and Moral Cultures.” Cooper and Manning show how “victimhood cultures” create people who create ever-more subtle ways to be outraged in an effort to show how educated they are, hilariously calling them “cry-bullies.” They stand for little substance, and create problems out of thin air to gain status.
As Cooper and Manning found, when individuals don’t have enough adversity to overcome, as many don’t in modern Western civilization, they seek victimhood. They look to be the champions of virtue and goodness, but reality comes purely from a place of guilt. The individuals in Cooper and Manning’s case were found to be comfortable middle-class students rather than the oppressed or marginalized people you’d expect. Most liberals feel guilt for their own privilege and seek to assuage it by becoming champions for the oppressed, despite their own lack of oppression.
Because they have it so good, they have so much more responsibility than before. People today are terrified of accepting that burden and are terrified of the work required to show that they’re worthy of what they were born into.
The exact same occurs on the right, with people shouting obscenities for the sake of being labeled a provocateur as some kind of badge. The self-described “alt-right” and Trump-supporting movements were born out of the reaction to the left’s welcoming of identity politics. Most self-described “alt-right” members are internet dwellers and gain status through provocation and trolling online. They believe they act in self-defense, but they only add to the polarization.
Whether left or right, they serve ideologies for their side without any self-awareness or unique thoughts.
SASI is putting all its effort into pointless work instead of any measured positive change. Who does removing the statue even help? It just makes a few of the most malicious leftists feel smug until they find a new PR stunt to pursue in their victimhood seeking.
Josh Baker is a junior economics and mathematics major from Houston, Texas.