Nothing inspires people and nations to put aside their differences like a power-hungry autocrat waging war on a weaker neighbour. Usually.
While we have seen many heartening expressions of solidarity in the days since Vladimir Putin laid siege to Ukraine, I regret to inform you that the peddlers of identity politics have still found an angle or two.
“Concerns mount as black people report racism while fleeing war zone,” reports The Independent. The story quotes a Nigerian national who was made to wait for white Ukrainians to flee the country first. “It is obvious that we Africans are regarded as lower beings,” he told reporters.
Read on a few paragraphs, however, and learn that Indians, Arabs, Syrians, Poles and Brits were also forced to join the queue. In other words, even if the policy is poorly thought through and being enforced brusquely amidst the chaos of war, Ukraine is discriminating by citizenship at border checkpoints — not race.
Observing that “identity politics is the implacable enemy of human solidarity,” Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill mockingly quips that “even in a war zone, whites enjoy privilege … even the Ukrainian victims of Russian aggression are having it easy in comparison with us, the truly downtrodden, the real victims, the perma-oppressed”. Not yet done with the sarcasm, O’Neill presses further:
“Those privileged white Ukrainians! Waltzing out of their bombed and war-torn country with ease! Leaving their families and their shattered homes without encountering so much as a smidgen of structural oppression!”
There is a history to this progressive Western sneering towards Slavic people, says O’Neill. “Among the Western European chattering classes there has long been a chauvinistic view of Slavic people as racist and regressive, as insufficiently woke”.
It only took days, O’Neill writes, “and already the identitarian set in the West is projecting its eccentric, self-obsessed narrative on to a bloody and confusing warzone”. Never mind that the messy Ukraine crisis and the West’s naval-gazing victim hierarchies have as much in common as chalk and cheese.
Vice also found their headline. “Trans people stranded and alone in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.” the outlet reported this week. The story recounts the fears that trans people have as they seek to flee the country with IDs and appearances that don’t match, and in view of Ukraine’s rule that all men aged between 18 and 60 must stay and defend their homeland.
Even so, Vice concedes that every trans person who has tried to flee Ukraine has done so successfully, if necessary by hiding their ID and joining a queue with foreign nationals. Does not this detail negate the rest of the report and its headline? Since when did fleeing a warzone come at no cost?
Vice also reports that some trans people have chosen to stay and fight for their nation. Kudos to them for consistency. After all, if you’re going to identify with a gender, far better to bear the burdens that come with that gender than to wear it like a costume that can be taken off again when convenience calls.
One would think that war — real-life, bombs-and-tanks war — would lay waste to the West’s obsession with identitarianism and victimhood. Yet sadly, some have found in the Ukraine crisis just more grist for the woke mill.
Don’t even get them started on Ukraine’s 34 percent vaccination rate!