Serena Williams and the Tragedy of Identity Politics

If ever there was a more potent warning about the danger of identity politics and its corrosive impact on public discourse, this week was it.

It started last week when Serena Williams was rightly penalised for poor conduct during the US Open final against Naomi Osaka. Williams, like John McEncroe before her, discovered that publicly berating an umpire can only result in a bad situation getting worse.

What followed was sadly predictable. Instead of acknowledging that her behavior was unacceptable and rightly dealt with, Williams reduced herself to the status of victim, claiming that umpire Carlos Ramos’ actions were motivated by sexism.

In Williams’ words: “I have seen other men call other umpires things and I am here fighting for women’s rights and women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff.”

This is such a copout. First of all, men indeed get punished for code violations and unsportsmanlike conduct all the time. Anyone unfortunate enough to sit through an entire Nick Kyrgios game will attest to that. Alas, the ‘if a man did it’ argument was too tempting for Serena to resist. And why wouldn’t it be when it works so consistently well?

Intoxicated by a worldview that sees every issue as a power construct where white men sit at the top of the hierarchy over sexual and racial minorities, acolytes flocked to Williams’ defence, citing it as another example of a man asserting his power over a female victim.

Herein lies the central weakness of those who play identity politics – they are blind to any rational assessment of a single event. For Williams’ herself, and her supporters, to reduce her to the status of lowly victim is both ignorant and condescending. Despite all the evidence before us that she is the most powerful sportswoman in the world, she fits the narrative of the oppressed victim because she is black and female.

Williams has dominated her sport for 20 years, with an estimated worth of $230 million. She is a celebrated idol of world tennis. Ramos, in comparison, is largely unknown outside of the sport, an umpire with no capacity to provide any public commentary in the wake of the event due to his ITF contract that prevents him from saying anything. He was paid $1,450 to officiate the game.

There is indeed a power imbalance, and it is not favoring Ramos.

This is the tragic outcome from a world increasingly obsessed with viewing every issue through a post-modern lense that casts every conflict as a power construct. Individuals and events are reduced to proxy debates about race and gender.

Hence the controversy over Mark Knight’s cartoon. Because Williams is black and female, it was never going to be viewed as a cartoon caricature of a tennis player spitting the dummy. It would of course be linked to historical representations of black Americans and labelled racist. Williams as an individual did not matter, she was viewed as a representative of her race and gender and reduced to a standard bearer for the oppressed.

The subtext is clear: because white men sit at the top of the power hierarchy, it is unacceptable for them to depict individuals of another race in a satirical or critical manner. The frustrating thing, however, is that any criticism of white people, especially white men, is considered fair game and cannot be viewed as racist because of the power construct that gives white men a privileged position at the top of society’s hierarchy.

The great triumph of western civilization was the belief in the individual as a sovereign being, but our current discourse risks eroding this foundation, preferring to divide people according to their group identity. The racists of the 21st century are the leftists who cannot see beyond it.

That said, the left has consistently sort to erode the pillars of what has made us prosperous: individual sovereignty, liberal democracy, free market capitalism.

Having failed to secure socialism’s triumph throughout the 20th century, they have regathered to enforce a neo-Marxist dogma on the world that still seeks to break down the pillars of our society.

Identity politics is merely a Trojan horse. By selling a world where white males sit at the top of a cultural hierarchy that they created and therefore enjoy privilege at the expense of racial and sexual minorities, it justifies government intervention and policy change to eat away at that social fabric in the name of ‘progress’. Young minds unwittingly contribute to this cause with the well intentioned belief that they are doing something good.

The term ‘white privilege’ has now become valuable currency to shut down debate and justify calls for change from ‘oppressed’ victims. People buy into this narrative and the cycle continues until the desired change is achieved. The end game is clear: social, cultural and economic revolution.

It should go without saying that free speech, the free market and individual sovereignty are universal values that can benefit anyone regardless of their race or gender, but by linking them to white power, the modern left has ingeniously sown the seeds to continue the long march towards the change it ultimately desires: big government, wealth distribution, thought control.

Know the agenda, and resist it.

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