Identity Politics Are Ruining America

Helen  Raleigh
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Posted: Jun 23, 2015 12:01 AM
Identity Politics Are Ruining America

Among all the founding fathers, I identify most with Alexander Hamilton. I am an immigrant just like him. Hamilton is a quintessential example of the American Dream. He embodied an archetype we as immigrants are so familiar with: an impoverished young man immigrated to America; driven by ambition, he reinvented himself through hard work and education, and ultimately succeeded. Theodore Roosevelt referred to him as "the most brilliant American statesman who ever lived." Yet, in spite of all his accomplishment, there is no memorial in his honor and his face was not carved into the Mount Rushmore.

But Hamilton doesn't need a monument because we live in the America he envisioned. There is no better way to honor him than having his handsome portrait grace our $10 bill. Yet, the U.S. Treasury just announced that they would redesign the $10 bill and have a woman sharing the space with Hamilton.

I found this announcement disturbing and offensive.

As an immigrant from China and an U.S. citizen by choice, I never feel America is a repressive place for women. Believe me, I lived through repression and I know what it was like. I came to the U.S. with less than $100 in my pocket. Now I am a business owner and an author. I never have any doubt that I live in a free society where I have the ownership of my own future. Nothing and no one can stop me from living my full potential. It never occurs to me to look for any woman's image on anything in order to find motivation, inspiration and confirmation.

I suppose it is nice to have a woman's face on something. But it is a superficial gesture. It does nothing to address any real issues that women are concerned about and it does nothing to improve women's lives. If the only way we can honor a woman is to diminish the importance of another accomplished person, how is it a sign of progress? This is nothing more than a sop to women. Redesigning the $10 bill is just another example of how identify politics have reached a new high in this country and it is practically ruining the core of this country. The hypocrisy of identity politics has reached an unprecedented embarrassing state: a white woman faked being black; a Republican presidential candidate was asked to prove he is actually Cuban on national TV; some private college consultants advise Asian students to "appear less Asian" on their college applications. Identity politics slice and dice American people into different groups and pit one group against the other. We cannot be a strong nation when our people are so divided.

You see, the greatest strength of America is that it is founded upon great ideas: ideas of inalienable rights and a government is instituted among us to protect these rights. Because America was founded upon ideas, not any identity like region, ethnicity, gender or race, millions of people who came here, including a girl from China, can claim to be an American because we embrace these ideas. We are united by these ideas as one people, regardless of skin colors, gender and ethnicity. If we Americans continue down the path to let identity politics replace ideas, we as a nation will eventually fall apart.