Stop the presses everyone! It turns out a well known right-winger -- in this case Jonathan Kay, formerly of the flophouse Conrad Black vanity rag The National Post, now editor of The Walrus -- has discovered that "political correctness" is hurting poor people!
How is it doing this?
After starting his piece by talking about the terrible hardships caused in some markets by the staggering housing prices that have been created by the real estate bubble, according to Kay it is because a "a narrow fixation on identity politics has compromised the left’s traditional focus on wide-angle issues of socio-economic stratification, poverty, and income inequality."
What does he base this sweeping and rather astounding generalization on? Well on the actions of the Mayor of Vancouver related to the release of one single study and:
...from what I’ve read on social media and in Walrus editorial submissions, many activists and pundits seem far more comfortable striking positions on highly compartmentalized identity-politics issues that can be reduced to succinct, tweet-able messages. Accusations of racism, sexism, and homophobia, in particular, can encourage a pack mentality—and so politicians such as Robertson are (understandably) terrified of arousing accusations that they harbour impure thoughts.He then goes on to assert that:
a generation ago, opposition to the Canada–United States free-trade deal and nafta were the dominant obsessions of the Canadian left. And rightly so. Globalization has revolutionized our economy, creating whole new classes of winners and losers. By contrast, news of last year’s Trans-Pacific Partnership—the largest trade deal in history—was treated for the most part as an obscurity. Progressive media were far more interested in culture-war battles over the likes of #OscarsSoWhite, niqabs , and Donald Trump. Important Canadian stories with enormous economic impact continue to get short shrift.
Seriously. He claims all this.
Kay is just the latest in a long list of right-wingers offering that most disingenuous of all advice, the lecturing of the the left on how to "do" the leftism they themselves actually vigorously oppose.
What he says is total, demonstrable and absolute nonsense.
No one was even talking about income inequality in any serious way prior to the Occupy Movement, whatever its flaws may have been. And only the left continues to, all the time, in every left-wing forum anyone takes ten seconds to look in anywhere at all! The idea that this is not a primary focus of the left is beyond ludicrous.
Has Kay somehow remained blissfully unaware of the $14 and $15 Now living wage movements across the United States and Canada that have been fighting for union rights and an end to poverty wages and that have made these issues front-and-centre on the political agenda?
This was not due to the benevolent indulgence of right wingers like Kay! It was due to mass mobilization by leftists and labour and union activists. The exact opposite of what he claims.
Did he sleep through the mass and very vocal opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? This has been the focus of countless initiatives, forums and fights and, unlike in the mainstream or right-wing press, the left-wing press is flooded with articles about it.
In fact, rabble.ca alone has had, even by just a cursory count, in excess of 30 posts about the TPP so far this year! The notion that the TPP has been treated as "obscure" is moronic.
Frankly, what the fuck is Kay talking about?
There have always been those, in both the right and the left, who act as if issues around anti-racism, homophobia and women's rights somehow "detract" from the "real" issues that the left supposedly should be dealing with.
But, news flash to white dudes with good jobs, these ARE all issues directly related to poverty to begin with! Systemic racism, sexism and homophobia and the structural results of these oppressions leave countless millions poor in addition to the other vicious indignities and injustices that stem from them.
But, beyond that, the issues are not even remotely mutually exclusive, and while Kay may be able to find some isolated examples here-or-there, in fact the vast bulk of leftists see these struggles as all interconnected. As part of a totality of struggle for human emancipation.
Of course Jonathan Kay would think that "political correctness" is somehow hurting the poor. This is an easy, though rather facile and silly thing to say. It deflects from the real narratives in the media and beyond that are actually hurting those living in poverty and that are the right wing narratives.
You know, the ones that regularly excuse inequality and injustice as byproducts of the capitalist system and as "inevitable" and that pretend that women, the racialized, the marginalized and those living in poverty really have nothing to get bent out of shape about.
They denounce "political correctness" as opposed to the systems that create the poverty and inequality in the first place and as opposed to the ugly and institutionalized pillars of racism, colonialism, sexism, homophobia and class that maintain and ensure them.
If Jonathan Kay wants to "call out" someone who has a history of writing for, editing and supporting publications, writers and newspapers that directly and openly attacked anyone fighting for economic justice and equality, maybe he should start with himself.
Recent pretensions aside, it is how he has spent most of his career.
See also: In praise of the "social justice warrior"
See also: The myth of the leftist, feminist, anti-racist, elitist