In recent years Identity Politics have been forcibly inserted into our Media, Education, Legal, and even Governmental systems. This has been done for the same reason it always is, divide and conquer. The only way for us the free citizens of Canada can win this game is not to play.
The year I turned 25, I was serving as a United Nations Peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. My unit engaged the Croatian Army in what would come to be known as the Battle of Medak Pocket. Eventually, we halted the enemy’s advance and pushed them back.
Clearing a house after the fighting, we discovered the contorted and charred bodies of two young women tied to chairs. One was estimated to be in her early 30s, the other in her late teens. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police techs who processed the scene for the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague confirmed what we could tell just by looking at the corpses: the exaggerated arching of the backs, the screams of agony that still seemed ready to burst from what remained of their gaping mouths, fingernails embedded in the wood of the chair arm—these two young women had still been alive when they were dowsed in gasoline and set alight. But then the tech added a detail that was not readily apparent. His tests appeared to confirm that they were almost certainly already dead when the Croatian Army rolled into town. That meant they had been burned alive by their neighbors. People they had lived beside and gone to school with.
The area that the Croatian army had briefly overrun had been mixed Croatian and Serbian farming villages. These people had lived together for half a century. They had intermarried, lived in the same streets, eaten the same food, and attended the same social events.
But slowly, starting in the 1980s, political leaders and demagogues of various stripes had started using a politics of identity to solidify their social and political power. Each side’s citizens were repeatedly told by respected academic figures that they were being robbed, and that the ‘other’ was exploiting unearned ‘social privilege’ granted by their ethnic status. Children were taught this in school as received truth and ostracized if they dared to question it.
Slowly, this curated resentment built into hatred. From there, events developed according to an inescapable logic. Sometimes, soldiers on one side of the ethnic conflict would ask us for news of a high school sweetheart or friend across the lines. But identity allegiance remained paramount. To those who respond with the fatuous claim that this was simply a ‘white-on-white issue,’ I will only note that as I was fighting for my life in eastern Europe the same divisive hatreds were being broadcast across Rwanda by Radio Libre des Mille Collines. The political use of tribal hatred and fear are not a white or a black problem, they are a human problem.
This game can be played by anyone based on any perceived identity. The end is always the same power for the few while the many tear each other apart.
Fun trivia fact: as 1930’s Germany prepared the generation that would cause untold suffering, part of their indoctrination included the Nazi-generated concept of Soziale Gerechtigkeit , literally Social Justice. Exactly 100 Years ago a social justice policy called Eugenics was spreading like a cancer through western societies. It was inserted by the elite class of the society during a time historians call the “Progressive Era.”. Any of that sounding familiar?
Every time identity politics has been used by any faction in human history for any reason brutal violence eventually follows. No matter how detailed and intricate the justification. No matter how reasonable or noble it can be made to sound as a way to correct for unequal social conditions and historical injustice. The deadly game of Identity Politics always leads into that same foul basement of mutual fear, loathing, and depravity.
The Medak Pocket were Canadians stood defiant against the darkness and won. We can do it again.