Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, May 30, 2015.

  1. Revmitchell

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    Feb 18, 2006
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    ...What I am talking about so far is not meant to discredit feminism or any social justice position that seeks to empower oppressed people or remedy social ills. As I made abundantly clear to begin with, these are fundamentally good and necessary goals. What is the issue here are the tactics used by some from a purported place of moral high ground to immunize themselves from criticism while promoting a close-minded authoritarian vice-grip on society through chillingly sinister tactics.

    This brings us to the supposedly sound statistical underpinnings of the modern social justice movement. But, as Mark Twain famously said: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Let’s return to the Rolling Stone/UVa Rape example. There is an oft-cited statistic that “one in five women will experience sexual assault on campus in America.” This shocks the conscience, as it should, and is used to fuel the hysteria of rape culture on campuses nationwide. Unfortunately for social justice advocates—and fortunately for college-aged women everywhere—this statistic is criminally misleading. As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post writes, this one in five statistic results from “a single survey, based on the experiences of students at two universities. As the researchers acknowledged, these results clearly can be generalized to those two large four-year universities, but not necessarily elsewhere.” But why should advocates for victims of sexual assault include that? 1-in-5 is a great way to fear-monger. In a report released by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault Among College-Aged Females, 1995–2013,” Lynn Langton, Ph.D. and Sofi Sinozich report that “the rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for non-students (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).” Using deliberately misleading statistics in a Machiavellian campaign — wherein the eradication of sexual assault on college campuses requires the misinterpretation of data and the removal of due process — does more to “derail” genitive conversations of sexual assault on campus than having productive, legally responsible conversations ever will.

    Take also, for instance, the wage gap statistic recited everywhere between a sociology class and the President’s speeches: That women make 70-something cents on a dollar to a man. The truth is that this is, again, a misleading statistic that tries to apply nationally aggregated data to the level of the individual. TIME writes that “the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.” This is corroborated by a seemingly endless amount of sources like the Wall Street Journal and Abigail Hall who quips that “you wouldn’t compare the incomes of elementary school teachers with Bachelor’s degrees to those of individuals with PhDs in physics and complain that there is a ‘teacher-physicist wage gap.’” Note that there are five sources in this paragraph alone.

    Using misleading statistics to push an agenda does no one any good. It derails progress by attempting to support a legitimate cause with shoddy foundations. Foundations that, in time, will collapse — and a movement with it.

    Here’s the issue — many reading this will be incensed just by the fact that I am bringing up these statistics in a negative light. After all, why would I do such a thing if not to paint feminism in a bad light or to play down the issue of rape on campus? As a heterosexual male, it is assumed that I am doing this fact-checking not in the name of academic honesty, but for sexist reasons or because I am a rape apologist or because I think women are “asking for it.”

    But here’s the thing — who I am does not (or should not) have any bearing on facts. The problem with this brand of modern social justice advocacy is that who one is as a person (race, class, gender, etc.) is the be all and end all of their capacity to have a certain viewpoint. A millennial social justice advocate can discount an opinion simply because it is said or written by a group they feel oppresses them. It is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem whereby one attacks the person saying an argument rather than the argument itself. But this logical fallacy has become the primary weapon of the millennial social justice advocate. It is miasma to academia, to critical thinking, and to intellectual honesty. Yet it is the primary mode of operating on college campuses nationwide.


    This already long article could go a lot further. I could talk about how the balkanization of individual groups of people based on Identity Politics is a regressive, inflammatory ideology that flies in the face of true diversity. I could talk about how “separate but equal” does not become a good thing because the Left repurposes it and calls it a “safe space.”

    The fact of the matter is, this particular brand of millennial social justice advocacy is destructive to academia, intellectual honesty, and true critical thinking and open mindedness. We see it already having a profound impact on the way universities act and how they approach curriculum.

    The arguments made under the banner of this type of social justice are often petty, usually mean-spirited, and always absolved of any guilt by the speaker’s moral self-positioning. And yes, sometimes they’re sexist and racist, too.

    To view everything through a particular theoretical viewpoint (that is, feminist, Marxist, post-colonialist, etc.) is an intellectual limiting exercise that works only in a vacuum. The world is more than one viewpoint. The ostricization of those who hold alternate viewpoints is not any way conducive to social progress. The opposite of hatred is not hatred in the opposite direction. There is no excuse — none — for being a bad person toward another on the basis of their identity.

    Let me finally be abundantly, abundantly clear (I learned this was necessary a few months back). Social justice and social justice advocacy is a good thing. To utilize one’s education to solve social ills is an admirable goal.

    The version of millennial social justice advocacy that I have spoken about — one that uses Identity Politics to balkanize groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy — is not admirable. It is deplorable. It appeals to the basest of human instincts: fear and hatred. It is not an enlightened or educated position to take. History will not look kindly on this Orwellian, authoritarian pervision of social justice that has taken social media and millennials by storm over the past few years.

    Those who need to hear this message will probably respond that I am 1. too privileged to understand 2. tone-policing the oppressed (and that I shouldn’t tell the oppressed how to treat their oppressors) and 3. really just a closet racist/sexist in a liberal’s clothing. I expect these responses — partially because I am so used to having seen this script play out over the last four years at NYU.

    But the fact of the matter is — anyone unwilling to engage in productive, open, mutually critical conversations with people they disagree with under the moral protection of liberalism and social justice are not liberals, are not social justice advocates, and are not social justice warriors; they are social justice bullies.

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