The Dickinsonian

  • January 3The Dickinsonian's new website has officially launched! Stay tuned for new stories and features.

Opression is Not a Relic (A response to “Stop Toxic Identity Politics”)

Kevin Ssonko  ’20, Guest Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

My mother grew up in post-colonial Uganda, formerly under British rule. When I was growing up, she shared countless stories with my siblings and I about my grandfather who died before I was born. My grandfather hated the British colonizers for their bigotry and exploitation of the Ugandan people. My grandfather lived most of his life doing all he could to assert his own freedom even though his own nation lived under occupation and in the same vein my mother encouraged us to resist bigotry of any kind, even when such an effort feels futile. If you were to tell me then that bigoted ideas would gain mass popularity again by the time I was a young man, I would not have believed you, but of course these were simpler times. 

I must say when I read lasts week’s article decrying identity politics I was impressed with the effort of the author. It’s quite a task to try and prove somehow that recognizing the brutal exploitation and marginalization of different people groups throughout American history up to the current moment is somehow an inhibitor toward the great American stride toward progress. That somehow the facts that show that America has, and continues to exploit and marginalize specific groups of people for the benefit of the few is not true, is merely just a historical issue, and we should simply just move on from these things. But even if I were to take his argument seriously, the problem is almost none of what he said is rooted in any real fact about the way that things are. Like most right wing thought in our times, it’s just coated in a deep and misguided philosophy about the way that the world is. It’s rooted in this assertion, that somehow after white, wealthy, Christian men have ravaged the world for the sake of profit, that they are the real victims of oppressed people’s striving toward recognition. Indeed, it seems that the authors audacity to pen such ill-founded ideas, completes the prophecy that Paulo Freire presented in his seminal text, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that when oppressed people begin to create a world without oppression, those who oppressed them will only be able to recognize that world as oppressive to the former oppressors. It seems then that rather than embracing a new world of possible justice, the author of the article like most conservative voices clings to his mythologies about a world that doesn’t exist. One where Martin Luther King, who himself was the enemy of right wingers of his day namely the John Birch Society, sides with neo-conservative thought. And women who side with the patriarchy are “free thinkers.”

I must say I am not surprised though by this lackluster effort. The reality is this is nothing new for right wing thought, because of how repressive conservative thought is it must always rebrand itself to somehow be on the margins of power in order to convince people to believe it. The reality is that conservative ideology finds its roots in support for the status quo and representing the ideas of the elite in an oppressive superstructure. People in general don’t like these ideas, people root for the little guy. But conservative thought roots for the oppressors, so in order to sell itself it must somehow convince people that those who have been on the wrong side of history, are actually the real victims. 

The reality is that whether the author of last week’s article wants to admit it or not, the world is not and will never be as he says it is. We live in a world of steep and unfortunate inequality and the evidence is all around us. To assert that issues like racism are a thing of the past at the very moment in American history where as we speak it is being documented that babies in flint are drinking poisoned water for no other reason than the fact that they were born poor and black, and the planet’s temperature is rising because of people’s insatiable desire for profit, is not just in bad taste, but it’s flat out dangerous. When I read articles like the one written last week that try and downplay the urgency of our current situation, I can’t help but ask myself, what is this person even trying to achieve. What does he expect, to convince millions of people that the oppression that they have faced in their life isn’t real, that 1 in 4 women on a college campus aren’t being assaulted, that every unarmed black man shot in America somehow deserved to die? None of this is true, and because I believe all Dickinsonians are capable of critical thinking, I don’t think he believes it’s true either. All lasts week’s article was, was a tool of propaganda, it’s not based in facts, it’s not based in reality, and no its not making the world any better. So, in the spirit of freedom fighter Martin Luther King who was quoted out of context last week I’ll end with one of his that has stuck with me for quite some time, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 Responses to “Opression is Not a Relic (A response to “Stop Toxic Identity Politics”)”

  1. Steve on February 16th, 2019 2:49 pm

    Dear Kevin,
    Welcome to America. I would suggest you watch Dinesh D’Souza for some great information about the history of the democrat party for 160-170 years. It is an eye opener. Try to gain some affection of your adopted country. You are certainly free to go to Uganda if you hate America. We here have many great qualities, including how we as individuals treat other individuals. Collectively and governmentally, not so much. After 242 years America’s Constitution has barely remained and is threatened daily by communists, globalists and those who just hate America and live among us. I will choose to love America, our freedoms and our hard working industrious people.

    Steve Brown

  2. Jeff Halbert on February 24th, 2019 4:27 am

    Bite the hand that feeds you? . Western Civilization Nations are MOST generous of nations in regards to the treatment of minorities, women, gays, etc.. Western Civilization Nations are MOST generous of nations in regards to diversity, opportunity, immigration, etc. You criticize White Christians and yet you are the product of leaving a country (Uganda) for coming to America for a better life. While on the subject of Uganda, why didn’t you mentioned anything about Idi Amin who was a Black dictator of Uganda whose rule was notorious for its brutality and oppressiveness. .The number of people he caused to be killed has been tabulated by exiles and international human rights groups as close to 300,000 out of a total population of 12 million. .Those murdered were mostly anonymous people: farmers, students, clerks and shopkeepers who were shot or forced to bludgeon one another to death by members of death squads, including the chillingly named Public Safety Unit and the State Research Bureau. Along with the military police, these forces numbering 18,000 men were recruited largely from Mr. Amin’s home region. They often chose their victims because they wanted their money, houses or women, or because the tribal groups the victims belonged to were marked for humiliation.But there were also many hundreds of prominent men and women among the dead. Their killings were public affairs carried out in ways that were meant to attract attention, terrorize the living and convey the message that it was Mr. Amin who wanted them killed. They included cabinet ministers, Supreme Court judges, diplomats, university rectors, educators, prominent Catholic and Anglican churchmen, hospital

The Dickinsonian strives to provide a forum for lively and respectful discussion among members of the Dickinson College community. We reserve the right to remove any comments that we do not adhere to our community standards.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.


The student news site of Dickinson College.
Opression is Not a Relic (A response to “Stop Toxic Identity Politics”)