In the week preceding spring break, it became evident that our campus community is split in two. Westmont’s division is not unique. This is a nationwide conflict between conservatism and liberalism; the battleground is intersectionality and identity politics.
The phenomenon of intersectional identity politics is not timeless; it is very much of our times. Yet our embrace of this modern liberal ideology has hastened our abandonment of long-held Christian views on political issues. Specifically, we have refused to acknowledge homosexuality as a sin, we have assented to the mass genocide of the unborn, and we have allowed a spirit of accusation and intimidation to define racial issues. Worse, we wrap our defense of these practices in language of biblical justice. But make no mistake, our doctrine is being guided by our politics, not the other way around.
We are meant to find our mutual identity in Christ, for in Him there is “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female” (Gal 3:28). Yet adherents to intersectionality find their identity in race, gender, sexuality, and other markers. They supposedly focus on linkages, but they demonize those who are too high up their ladder of privilege. Intersectionality is anti-white, anti-male, anti-cisgender, anti-heterosexual, and anti-wealthy. Christ is radically inclusive. Intersectionality is inherently exclusive.
Following the religion of intersectionality, we have silently entertained a spirit of destruction at Westmont. We have seen students seek to tear down an innocuous image of Christ, disrupt our chapel community time in protest, attack administration as participating in racism and sexism, and attack fellow students with the same charge. They offer slogans and generalities as a justification (Jesus wasn’t white! Students of Color are not safe! We are being silenced!), but specifics are conspicuously absent. Why?
The bottom line is this: the facts are not on their side. There is a dichotomy between what students say about Westmont and what Westmont is. Those who protested can claim that they are being silenced, but most of our recent community life events have given voice to the “voiceless” (Voices; Race, Faith, and your Clark RA’s; Race, Memory, and Monuments after Charlottesville, Global Focus Week, etc.). In response to a man not remotely affiliated with Westmont, we spent 30 minutes of chapel proving our anti-racist credentials through virtue-signalling apologies and condemnations. Our administration apologized for enforcing campus poster policy because minority students were upset. Based on my count, nine of the 15 guest speakers in chapel thus far this semester have been a woman or a person of color. Four of the remaining five guest speakers who were scheduled in chapel (prior to the COVID-19 outbreak) also would have fit this bill.
But Westmont is silencing underrepresented voices?
Part of the problem is Intercultural Programs (ICP). They claim to want unity, but unity requires a mutually agreed-upon common ground where disagreements can be handled maturely. At Westmont, that common ground is supposed to be the Community Life Statement (CLS). We all signed the CLS and agreed to abide by it, yet ICP has made it clear that the CLS is an ironic joke to them. When they protest the upholding of campus policy, they protest their own signatures. They disrespect their commitment to their word and to the community at Westmont.
ICP demands humility and submission from others in the spirit of Christ. Yet they display none of that humility or submission themselves. We need to stop uncritically assuming that they are acting with full Christian clarity, wisdom, and virtue.
I do not want to sound callous. I see that students of color are suffering. They experience the culture shock, isolation, loneliness, difficulty, and fear that too often defines college life, regardless of socioeconomic and cultural background. When we suffer like this, we lose sight of our own strength and purpose. We need friends who can strengthen us and remind us that our purpose is found in Christ. ICP ought to be that voice for students of color. But instead, all I have seen is an advocacy group for intersectional politics disguised as prophetic justice.
We must not be deceived. There is no healing to be found in intersectional identity politics, no remedy to suffering. It is a malicious ideology built upon the foundation of exclusion. Intersectional identity politics infect us, warping our relationships until all we can see is a power dynamic instead of love. That is why we celebrate every apology from administration as a concession (or reject it out of anger) instead of accepting it with humility and grace.
The administration is not an opponent to be beaten. Our neighbor is not an oppressor to be overcome. Whatever suffering we may face, and we are in the midst of suffering, I know that it is only compounded by our division.
NOTE: In op-ed pieces, it is common to refrain from using phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion”, simply because an article’s presence in an op-ed section already denotes this claim. All expressions above should be taken in this context unless expressed otherwise.
Opinions published in The Horizon do not reflect the official position of The Horizon or its staff members.