Home Black Lives Matter Race Racism Identity Politics Violence is Tearing America Apart
Home Black Lives Matter Race Racism Identity Politics Violence is Tearing America Apart

Identity Politics Violence is Tearing America Apart

Three years ago, a bloody summer of black nationalist violence claimed the lives of eight police officers with the massacre of five police officers by Micah X. Johnson in Dallas and the murder of three police officers in Baton Rogue by Gavin Long.

Johnson had declared his support for the Black Lives Matter racial nationalist group and told police that he wanted to kill white people, and especially white police officers.

In the fall, Marc LeQuon Payne tried to run over Phoenix police officers. Next spring, Kori Ali Muhammad went on a shooting spree in Fresno, murdering three white men.

Muhammad and Long were both part of the Moorish Science Temple black nationalist movement. Muhammad had posted Nation of Islam content which claims that "white devils" are subhuman. Long had admired the killing spree by Johnson. Payne had posted that, “the Caucasian needs to be slaughtered like the pigs that they are right along with the niggas who serve and protect them.”

Long wasn’t alone in viewing Johnson as a black nationalist hero.

A former Miss Alabama had described the racial nationalist killer as a “martyr”. Babu Omowale, a co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, said, "The fact that Micah just got five of the bastards, that's what got you all upset right now." Yafeuh Balogun, another co-founder of the black nationalist group named after the founder of the Black Panther Patyu, wrote, "He shall be celebrated one day."

While the white nationalist shooters of this year have been banished to 8chan, Johnson, Payne and Long were radicalized and posted their rantings on Facebook. The outpouring of support for their acts of violence also took place on Twitter and Facebook with no effort at censorship by the social media sites.

The alternating mass shootings by white nationalists and black nationalists predated Trump. They’re part of a cycle of violence going back decades if not generations. The cycle of violence had largely died down until it was triggered by the resurgence of identity politics in the Obama administration.

The rise of a new age of identity politics was not a response to injustice, but a cynical political strategy.

Facing a more challenging political landscape after his original victory, Obama pivoted from universal appeals to racial nationalist rhetoric. “Punish your enemies,” he urged Latinos. Joe Biden told black people that Republicans would "put y'all back in chains." The racial nationalism became more strident as the political position of the Democrats weakened. Race riots were stirred up from Ferguson to Baltimore. The violence spiraled into mass shootings of police officers and white people.

Violence was only the most explosive symptom of a deeper racial polarization. White nationalist hate groups, long considered a joke, experienced their biggest revival in decades. Black Lives Matter protests convulsed major cities. Christian churches were vandalized with graffiti reading, “Negroes Are the Israelites,” while two synagogue shootings and a rash of swastika graffiti exploded into the news.

The hate group revival was tapping into polarized racial attitudes. Their growth was not an outlier, but an expression of the deeper sickness of identity politics. Polls showed that perceptions of race relations on both sides had cratered. Politics had become driven by naked appeals to racial interests. America had become a fractured country whose inhabitants identified as members of warring tribes.

The identity politics fracturing of the country was motivated by the political roadmap of the Democrats.

Trump had performed better with black voters than Mitt Romney, but black voters had become a larger share of the Democrat base, and the Democrats relied largely on racial appeals to mobilize their votes. These appeals highlighted a classic racial nationalist message that that pitted blacks and whites against each other with black people depicted as being the enslaved and oppressed victims of white people.

Such messages only deepened the racial polarization on both sides. And the political racial polarization limited the options of the Democrats who had become inescapably dependent on the black vote, yet knew no other way to speak to black voters except through conspiracy theories of racial victimhood.

The Democrats feared losing the black vote and the only way they knew how to keep it was by doubling down on the racial polarization that had divided the country and hollowed out their political party.

Conspiratorial messages of racial victimhood were meant to stem the defection of black voters and increase turnout by spreading racial paranoia and hostility toward white people and Republicans.

By 2014, what had been a cynical and divisive political strategy became a killing field as violence exploded in major cities, initially by mobs, and then through acts of racial nationalist terrorism.

The gunmen spreading terror and death are the manifestation of the identity politics strategy.

Racial violence is a deliberate effort to polarize the country by sowing racial hatred. The gunmen in their manifestos often speak of a desire to radicalize and divide the country along racial lines. The objective of the killers attacking churches, shopping centers and public streets is another brand of identity politics.

White and black racial terror plays into stereotypes and hostilities on both sides. Beyond inspiring a small group of potential imitators, the shooters also reinforce the racial nationalism of the other side. They play into the identity politics conviction that beneath the surface, a racial civil war is underway.

Identity politics was born out of an effort by leftist activists to identify and mobilize potential supporters by breaking down a sense of national solidarity along the lines of group victimhood. Every act of terror breaks down national solidarity further and strengthens the appeals to race over nationality.

Lessons about tolerance, white privilege and racial consciousness don’t end racism. They spread it.

What inhibits racism isn’t leftist politics, it’s nationalism. We are less likely to view each other as the enemy if we are all on the same team. When nationalism declines, then tribes arise. Identity politics is the politics of tribalism. Its group nationalisms are not positive affirmations of a common strength, but negative identifications of a common enemy without and a common weakness within the victim group.

And it’s only natural for warring tribes, taught that they are the victims of oppression, to turn violent.

Nations make war on rival nations. When a nation fractures into rival nations warring with each other, acts of racial terror become commonplace. That is what is happening to the United States of America.

The only way to stop racism is by rebuilding our common purpose as a nation.

Without nationalism, different groups will find their own purpose through a lens of group identity. These identities will be innately hostile to each other and to the country they were formerly part of. They will reject its founding principles for failing to serve the interests of their tribes and they will destroy them.

Democrats and their media eagerly denounce these behaviors when they manifest in white nationalism, while upholding them when they appear in black nationalism. And that’s the problem. The politics of racial nationalism are either good or bad. They can’t however be good for one race and bad for another.

When you divide a country along racial lines, the divide will cut along both sides, not just your side.

The resurgence of racial nationalist violence won’t end until we affirm the centrality of the nation over the identity politics that has fractured our political and cultural life. Until we get rid of identity politics, racial nationalist violence will continue tearing apart communities across a divided United States.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

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Thank you for reading.


  1. I suspect that, for those who seek to use identity politics for their own ends, your last sentence is a feature, not a bug.

  2. Anonymous8/8/19

    Humans have been tribal for thousands of years.
    We need commonly valued ideals to extend our
    allegiance; the kind of glorious ones set in
    our Declaration and Constitution. Sovereignty
    of the individual, life, liberty, property,
    pursuit of happiness, equality before the law.

    In the 1990s, we’d seen the end of the USSR
    and advent of a Golden Age of science, tech,
    prosperity and peace. Milquetoast Bush gave
    way to Willary who diverted us with naughty
    daytime TV. The tribes stayed quiet.

    A great sigh of relief welcomed W not Gore.
    But W pissed away opportunities to confront
    Islam, immigration, over-regulation, debt.
    There was a vacuum at the top; Repubs were
    getting screwed, and they knew it.

    In 2008, in the intentional absence of real
    info, “Hope and Change” seemed cool; it meant
    whatever you imagined. And you didn’t have
    to see that butt-ugly McCain mug anymore.
    Surely that polite, intelligent, nuanced
    and charming Cafe’ Latte guy will check the
    box and expunge our slavery shame. Roll the
    dice; so many tribes were happy; Hallelujah!!

    On November 5, 2008, Barack Obama was adored
    by the Left, acclaimed by independents, and
    accepted by many disaffected and good-loser
    Republicans. All he had to do then was to
    be magnanimous in victory. Thank the nation
    for the move to loving Brotherhood of all
    Citizens. That’s all it would have taken…

    How could it have gone so wrong?
    Henry L. Gates, PhD. and the “stupid cop”,
    Trayvon (“my son”) Martin;
    Non-stop Islamic favoritism;
    “Hands up, don’t shoot”;
    “Black Lives Matter” and Sharpton meetings;

    These and more catalyzed virulent tribalism.
    Forget JCPOA, Arab Spring, Bengazi, debt, etc.
    Barack Obama was the virtuoso saboteur.
    Every action inflicted death, damage, disgrace,
    demoralization, with plausible deniability.
    Ask, “how could the Media not have known?”

    That was horrendous; we’re still fighting his
    rear guard. But heroic Trump is bringing
    us back, and, thank God, we realize what
    happened to us. I hope the shards of our
    civilization forgive each other and re-unite.


  3. Free speech which the right are always preaching yet I made a few posts with no profanities on frontpage mag and they banned me, pot kettle and all that

  4. Anonymous9/8/19

    We’ve all been disrupted by the greatest
    political cataclysm and nobody’s noticed.
    What? Barack Obama systematically destroyed
    our Foreign Policy, Defense, Economy, Health,
    Science, Industry and Societal Integrity.
    Systematically. With full intent, brilliantly
    choreographed, with legions of able and stealthy
    helpers. He’s still busy, on the low down.

    Societal Integrity: E Pluribus Unum, that’s us.
    Things went well when we trusted our spouse,
    kids, neighbor, cop, employee, doctor.
    We took pride keeping promises. We helped each
    other. Strangers were welcomed.

    It’s too easy to point only to black-white hate
    when Obama conducted his opus.

    Women learned to resent men; husbands, fathers
    were reviled and mocked. Men were accused of
    rape for no reason.

    Kids were taught hostility, disrespect. No
    consequences of their actions. No objective
    facts, just feelings.

    Military and first responder service was
    portrayed as the dead-end for the stupidest.

    Sexual abnormalities demanded accommodation
    and deference by the remaining 98%.

    With bipartisan complicity, aliens invaded with
    contraband, drugs, diseases, evil intent.
    Without English, intent to support themselves,
    or integrate.

    Lawsuits abound in inverse proportion to trust.

    Civilization and Demographic Jihad advanced
    under the radar. Servile Clergy added this
    surrender to their ecology and socialist
    sermon talking points.

    Micro-aggressions, safe spaces, pronouns,
    “problematic” thoughts, became essential
    to snowflake life. Never safe enough.

    Lactose, glutin, meat, peanut intolerance,
    need for comfort animals, fear of animals
    and hand clapping all demand special

    Well, if you’re not “special”, you’ll always
    be last in a line filling in front of you.
    What the HELL?

    Good job, BO; your Balkanizing Victimocracy
    when you finally left. The jubilant reception
    of Donald J. Trump and his fulfillment of
    promises is beyond your comprehension.
    We’re on the way back. Americans, please
    don’t forget.


  5. Auric, that's exactly right. Unfortunately.

  6. The Conservative Curmudgeon9/8/19

    Daniel you are 50 years to late to be preaching about the dangers identity politics and a fractured society brings. But then the only violence lately has been from a supporter of the right not from "Black Lives Matter" or terrorist. Therefore this entire article seemed to be simply a lame argument attempting to justify tribalism and violence because of the relativism the left did it first. It doesn't comes off as advocating patriotism,civility or any positive way but to justify the rights use of whiteness as a yardstick of normalcy.

  7. Mr. Greenfield's analysis would be more on point if the word "patriotism" was substituted for "nationalism." A citizen of any country can be nationalistic, but a someone who loves his country because of the values it represents is a patriot. Unfortunately, the two terms are being confused in the current ideological debate. I would like to see some accuse a patriot of being a racist.

  8. Civic nationalism is only possible if there is one over-whelming dominant ethnic group. The US was 85% White in 1940, which was the heigh-day of civic nationalism. Whites could afford to ignore minorities (almost entirely black) and focus on intra-White disputes over economics, national policy, politics, whatever.

    When there are many non-dominant ethnic groups, the groups necessarily coalesce around their own kindred, and politics becomes identity politics. One's race is the most important thing.

    The Democrats have already become identitarians, and the Republicans are following. When Whites become yet another minority, all politics will be identitarian. Such societies are always dictatorships, because only a dictator can keep the peace and hold the country together.

    Obama did not create this situation, although he exploited it to the fullest. And the situation will not get better; it can only get worse. The future of our children and grandchildren is bleak, indeed.

  9. Whitehall13/8/19

    I heard one analyst succinctly describe the Democrat Party platform as take from the Deplorables and give to the Pitifuls.

  10. The Conservative Curmudgeon13/8/19

    Obama wouldn't name radical Islamic terrorist for fear of political correctness and Trump wouldn't mention white nationalist terrorist for fear of political efficiency.

  11. CC, I'm decrying both as toxic.


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