It’s the age of identity on the left. But the lines of what that entails change daily.
On one hand, your identity at birth is paramount. Intersectionality could not exist without it. Your sex, your race, your religion, your sexuality, it all plays a part in what claim to victimhood you can stake.
On the other hand, identity is fluid, ever changing, ever evolving. You can be anything you want to be from day to day.
Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waded into the identity trials a few days ago when, at a Chanukah celebration, she proclaimed herself a descendent of Sephardic Jews.
Her claim required the left’s internal contradiction regarding identity to have the impact it did. But it was a Republican politician that she most closely approximated with the fatuousness of her claim, and in her follow-up justifications. It was, of course, Donald Trump.
Unlike Julia Salazar, the New York Senate candidate elect who was found fabricating her Jewish heritage, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t bother getting bogged down in the details. And, unlike Elizabeth Warren’s disastrous foray into using DNA evidence to show her barely-existing Native American heritage, Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t going to take the genetics path.
Instead, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to make the spurious claim that all Puerto Ricans are Jewish. Seriously.
She started out promising. “Before everyone jumps one me - yes, culture isn’t DNA,” she tweeted. But it soon devolved into the spurious claim about all Puerto Ricans.
Before everyone jumps one me - yes, culture isn’t DNA.
But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of:
African Moors + slaves,
and likely others.
We are all of these things and something else all at once - we are Boricua. https://t.co/IFC4mwAjor— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 10, 2018
Where is the outrage? Or at least the raucous laughter?
Her follow-up tweets were even more perplexing. She wrote that “Just because one concrete identity may not be how we think of ourselves today, nor how we were raised, it doesn’t mean we cannot or should not honor the ancestors + stories that got us here. I was raised Catholic, & that identity is an amalgam too - especially in Latin America.”
To sum up: Just because you do not think of yourself as Jewish nor were raised Jewish doesn’t mean you can’t randomly drop that you are Jewish during a Jewish holiday celebration.
Her final tweet on the matter returns to the idea that being a Sephardic Jew is the story of her ancestry. “If anything, the stories of our ancestry give us windows of opportunity to lean into others, to seek them out, and see ourselves, our histories, and our futures, tightly knit with other communities in a way we perhaps never before thought possible,” she wrote.
If the questionable proclamation followed by a world salad explanation seems familiar, it should. Ocasio-Cortez is amazing at channeling that other New Yorker turned politician, Donald Trump.
That she isn’t widely mocked is evidence that people have learned something during the last few years. Ocasio-Cortez is Donald Trump’s mirror image and, like him, attacking her for blatantly dishonest, incorrect or just fabricated comments won’t work. She’s rubber, you’re glue.
The similarities are striking. Like Donald Trump, Ocasio-Cortez traffics in hazy half-facts and goes on the offensive when questioned.
And she uses Twitter in the same way the President does, attacking her detractors and using the platform to have her minions swarm her haters.
She thrives on being a victim. She’s more instinct than knowledge. It’s never her tenuous grasp of issues that’s the problem; it’s always that lying fake news media.
Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud. https://t.co/KipcyHaaAb— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 10, 2018
Name-calling is standard. Challenge her to a debate and you’re sexist.
Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.
And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one. pic.twitter.com/rsD17Oq9qe— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 10, 2018
She is the left’s Donald Trump and both of them have proven one key thing about politics in 2018: Their shtick works.
Still, even Donald Trump couldn’t pull an “I’m actually Jewish” card and get away with it.
When Paul Ryan found out he was 3% Jewish after taking a genetics test, Jews were quick to rebuff him. That they’re not doing it with the darling of the new left is telling. That they’re overlooking her similarities to Donald Trump is meaningful.
Identity matters; but it seems political identity matters most of all.
Karol Markowicz is a writer living in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter: @karol.