In “God Vs. Identity Politics”, Rod Dreher embarks on another long-winded dance with the ‘Devil’ that is identity politics. (Over at Counter-Currents, I previously wrote about Dreher’s growing internal struggle with the increasingly obvious tenets of race-realism and identity-politics-for-white-people in a piece titled “The Red Pilling of Rod Dreher”.) Dreher writes:
I’ve been saying for a long time here that the racial essentialism of people like Ta-Nehisi Coates is unavoidably calling up the same thing among white nationalists and other right-wing whites. You cannot have it both ways…
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Richard Spencer are both atheists who have found a strong source of belief in their respective races. Spencer, a Nietzschean, has said that Christianity is a religion of the weak. They have drawn the line between good and evil not down the middle of every human heart, as that great Christian prophet Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did, but between their race and the Other. There is immense power in that kind of tribalism, and it lies in large part because it denies the fallenness of one’s own people. Where in contemporary American Christianity can we find the resources to resist falling prey to the malign power of racialism, in all its versions?
Why is racialism a ‘malign power’ rather than a rational position based on empirical and historical evidence?
It is true that we all have multiple identities, but for the Christian, his fidelity to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Bible (and, for many of us, in the authoritative teachings of the apostolic church), has to be primary. It has to be the identity that gives all the other identities order, meaning, and legitimacy. I am neither proud nor ashamed of my race, but I do not believe in the racialism of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Richard Spencer because it is impossible to reconcile with the Gospel — which, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, directs us to judge not by the color of one’s skin, but by the content of one’s character.
Dreher’s statement that he is “neither proud nor ashamed of my race” helps explain how Christianity, in the last instance, was the historical enabler of the very hyper-individualism he rails against. The entirety of human history is one of social frameworks emerging from in-group vs. out-group distinctions, and the most salient in-group vs. out-group distinction in human history has been that of race. It is why national borders today tend to fall along ethnic lines.
It is as if Dreher and his type are adamant to pretend race doesn’t matter, that it played (and plays) no significant role in the West’s development, rise, and subsequent ongoing fall. As such, Dreher’s statement serves as Axiom #1 of Civic Nationalism.
In the West, the history of Christianity has been tantamount to a continuous expansion of the idea that race doesn’t matter, and following this logic qua Pope Francis, neither should borders matter. We are one big family, and borders simply act as barriers from us all living together. This leads naturally to pathological altruism, which is the cancer eating away at the West, allowing hordes of non-whites to enter the formerly white nations of the West.
The asceticism, self-masochism, and aforementioned pathological altruism of Dreher’s type of theology is quite striking in its public display of denial towards that which social identity theory argues is not only an innate part of human nature but a most central part of human nature.
Near the heart of the power of identity politics — which Justin Dean Lee rightly identifies as a pseudo-religion — is its power to explain, to absolve and to bind. It explains the tribes suffering by blaming those outside of it. This absolves those who embrace the identitarian ideology of their sins, and releases them from the responsibility to examine their own consciences in light of the transcendent truth. And it binds them in a brotherhood of the sanctified — sanctified not because of anything they have done or accomplished, but simply by their membership in the tribe.
Only a strong Christianity can counter this nihilistic tribal religion.
It ain’t gonna happen, Rod.