Post Millennial: The Serena Williams debacle shows how identity politics paralyses debate and distracts from real injustice 

This article was first published on The Post Millennial.

Naomi Osaka is mixed race, born of a Haitian father and a Japanese mother. She is a phenomenal tennis player and a rising star on the world stage. She did not say or do anything remotely racist, sexist or in any way hostile towards her opponent Serena Williams or anyone else during Saturday’s US Open final or indeed at any other time. Yet, somehow, she finds herself on the wrong side of the latest outburst of fury from the self-righteous, identity-obsessed modern left.

Serena Williams is a woman of colour. In the extraordinarily narrow-minded leftist worldview of identity politics, that means any criticism or penalising of her is racist and sexist. If she were gay, you can bet your bottom dollar the decisions against her would have been homophobic too. This is in spite of the fact that all three blatant violations, along with Williams’ pathetic tantrum, were broadcast live around the world for all to see.

This was not an issue of race or gender, but merely one of tennis discipline. It is the hard left, in this case Williams, that insists on framing the debate in those identity-driven terms because it fits their narratives. But the logic simply does not hold up. Imagine for a moment that umpire Carlos Ramos is a raging misogynistic racist, as the liberal columnists would have you believe. He has decided that he objects to the existence of women of colour and that the most effective way to enact this view is to become an official for the US Tennis Association (which, by the way, is run by a woman of colour).

Ramos calculates that the best means of ensuring his virulent prejudices have the most impact on the world is to be impeccably professional for several years and wait for the right moment to make a move. That moment apparently arrived on Saturday, when his racism and sexism motivated him to unfairly penalise a woman of colour in order to allow another woman of colour to win the match.

There are more plot holes in this hysterical narrative than there were in Jeremy Thorpe’s forty years ago. It is plain to see that Ramos followed the rules of the game to the letter throughout the incident and it is equally clear that Williams behaved with an cataclysmic lack of professionalism. Nonetheless, the modern left continues to force the identity debate onto fatuous non-events such as this, thereby distracting from real injustice.

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