Port: The left's fixation on identity politics has been a boon for white supremacists

Rob Port column sig
Rob Port
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — Hate groups are using the internet to target young white Americans.

Quite successfully, it seems, according to a recent Washington Post report headlined, "How white supremacists are recruiting boys online."

The story details the efforts of various hate groups to lure white kids into their ignorant causes with memes and humor.

It's working. The infamous Charlottesville rally comes quickly to mind, as do other examples.

But why is this working?


How can affluent, educated white kids fall for something as myopically stupid as white supremacy?

In the post-9/11 world, we have watched Islamic extremists lure in recruits who had college educations, beautiful families and good jobs. We can ask the same question of them.

How could those sort of people be convinced to give their lives over to violent jihad?

The answer lays in the siren song of identity politics.

If you convince a person they are persecuted for their racial or cultural identity they can become malleable to those doing the convincing.

Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS have long used this method. They portray Muslims as under siege in the world, and cite examples of discrimination and ill-treatment both real and imagined.

They pitch their cause, their jihad, as the answer.

There are billions of Muslims in the world, and only a tiny fraction of them fall for that nonsense. It only takes a small number of people committed to hate and violence, a small percentage of billions, to cause a lot of harm.


The left's promotion of identity politics has served white supremacist recruitment the same way discrimination and violence toward Muslims helped groups like ISIS.

It has created a social hierarchy based on things like gender, race and sexual orientation.

The things you are dictate where you rank on that hierarchy.

Someone who is black would rank higher than someone who is white. But someone who is black and also gay would rank even higher.

This stratification of identity-based grievance is obnoxious — we are unique individuals, not categories — but unfortunately the foundation of left-wing politics in 2019.

At the bottom of this hierarchy? Straight white males.

At this point, my critics will roll their eyes. White males aren't victims, they'll say. White males have privilege born of history too lengthy catalog here.

This sort of reaction is the problem.


They're talking about white males as a group, but extremists recruit individuals who resent lectures on their privilege which ignore the genuine problems and struggles of their lives.

Judging anyone based on their skin color, telling them their problems are lesser than others because of their skin color, is not helpful to anyone.

In some instances, it may even open the door to extremism.

It's not excusable, but it happens.

It could probably happen less if stopped dividing ourselves into grievance factions and started treating one another as individuals whose most important characteristics are not skin color or gender.

Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
Something somewhat similar happened in North Dakota in 2014.
"A Texas jury ordered Alex Jones to pay $49.3 million for pain, suffering, and punitive damages for relentlessly smearing grieving Sandy Hook families as hoaxers. ... What kind of soulless cretin instigates that kind of trauma on already traumatized people?"
Well, as everyone knows, summer seems so fleeting here around Grand Forks. We love it. We hate to leave it behind.
Frustrated by the inability of the present two-party system to function, more folks are talking about the creation of a third party, thinking that would break the deadlock in Washington.