Originally a critical studies concept that was used to talk about the “intersection” of questions of race and gender in the United States, the term has become an organizing principle of today’s left.
It’s a pretty broadly accepted concept, but it has its critics. Marxists think it doesn’t focus enough on class. Natch. Or that it’s not complex enough, or it’s American-centric. Outside of the “critical studies” world, it’s easy enough to imagine that the idea is impossible to accept by political conservatives.
My problem with it is a bit different. It has absolutely no empirical basis. There is no formula for figuring out who is more oppressed. Is it a black transwoman muslim? Or a poor gay Amerindian? How do we measure “oppression.” We can’t. The reason for that is that “oppression” is not one thing, pace Marxists.
For some, oppression is unfair scrutiny by police. For others it is identity-based difficulty in acquiring a job. There is no one oppression. It is not created by capitalism (prove me wrong). It is not created by colonialism. Not alone. All of the different kinds of oppression are just that: different. Some are, quite frankly, trivial and others are crimes against humanity.
I do agree that the catalog of “intersections” seems to depend on an American-centric choice, but if you look closer, it’s who is part of the American left. And herein lies the problem:
The politics of intersectionality define it, it and its theory of identity do not define a politics. If you are part of a group opposed to U.S. policy on any level, you are almost surely “oppressed” in some metaphysically compatible way with African Americans or gays.
This is reductive. It’s Manichean. It is just not correct.
Race-based slavery is the Original Sin of the United States and we aren’t done reckoning with it. Gender equality, on the other hand, was largely pioneered here. Religious freedom and gay rights also emanate from the United States rather than being founded on their negation.
Intersectionalism is so readily contradicted by its—ahem—intersection with religious identity that it’s hard to believe it’s taken seriously at all, given that most religions have teachings that are the source of some of the oppressions that the other groups feel.
When these problems become too plain to ignore, they resort to Colonialism. In other words, inside every Muslim is a LGBT ally trying to get out, but they are held back by their legacy of colonial oppression.
You can’t have diversity that way, by seeing a teleological end point of different groups’ views of identity.
But nobody does more to dissolve this “theory” into absurdity than the Jews. Jews are white, antisemitism is a second-class problem, and Israelis are colonialists.
That’s right. The world’s longest still-existing oppressed group, who have been chased from land to land for literally millennia and who number maybe 15 million–maybe 2% of the entire planet–are part of the oppressor class because they live in the tiny sliver of land called Israel and are rich in the United States.
Jews aren’t a race, so why are they “white”? Jews aren’t all rich unless you’re a Victorian-age antisemite. Jews are only a “majority” capable of oppressing anyone in that tiny piece of land called Israel, which, just happens to be the most liberal country in the area.
Yet unless you’re one of the “Good Jews” willing to despise your co-religionists who feel the need to live in that place (which gets treated worse than North Korea by the international community) you aren’t Intersectional.®
This is simple: Israel is not part of the global left and hasn’t been since the early 50s. Therefore, it’s not Intersectional.® That is the only logical explanation. And that is why Intersectionality is really just a groupthink orthodoxy for the far left.