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Privilege and the rise of social justice

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By: YC

Given the recent interest in privilege and its connotations regarding a myriad of other issues involved i feel compelled to write about this and more specifically the idea of Social justice its rise and impact.

So what is social justice and why has it got to do with “checking your privilege”? First we have to define what Social Justice means, a common definition you can find is, justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. A pretty simple definition but one can immediately see the follow up question , so what is considered justice or a just way of distribution?

For example the Global Justice Movement focuses on the just distribution of economic resources and are against corporate globalisation. Or the Black Lives Matter movement where their aim is to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people. Which is to say they are focused on racial issues.

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Another example is the National Organisation for Women, NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life. They on the other hand are focused on Gender issues.

The point here is social justice is whatever you want it to be, as long as you feel something in the above context is unjust and you want to change that well that is social justice. There is no objective definition of what is considered just or unjust way of distribution.

This vagueness did not come about by accident, infact this lack of objective standards is precisely inherent in social justice and is a problem as its non objective standards meant that anything can be construed as “social injustice” given the right amount of support and effort.

In the 20th Century, Social justice was more often about economic factors like high unemployment and income inequality and supporters of Social justice back then normally push for state intervention to correct those injustices, criticisms from a major Philosopher and economist like Friedrich Hayek back then correctly points out that Social justice was just an instrument of ideological intimidation, for the purpose of gaining the power of legal coercion.

http://now.org/about/who-we-are/
http://blacklivesmatter.com/guiding…
https://www.firstthings.com/article…

Since then, Social justice has taken a more personal nature and have expanded that list from mainly economical issues to race, gender, sexual orientation and even religion. But the goals of social justice have not changed even though the issues have been expanded, many of these groups are still working towards the goal of having the state intervene either to “stop” the individuals who are against social justice (therefore making themselves enemies of mankind) by harsh laws or potential job loss against speech that dont fit their narrative or to intimidate or coerce Govt figures or pvt citizens into agreement by potential public shaming and humiliation and also censorship through the idea of political correctness. I bring up some examples,
  • British physicist Matt Taylor who was involved in the Rosetta mission of landing a probe on a comet a first for human kind was attacked and humiliated verbally by feminists for wearing a shirt that according to them “objectified women”. The ShirtStorm, as it was dubbed on social media, culminated with the transgressor, British physicist Matt Taylor, offering a tearful apology for his “mistake” at a briefing. He was simply an enemy of social justice for being a sexist and had to be disgraced. http://time.com/3589392/comet-shirt-storm/
  • The infamous Rotherham Abuse Scandal which will live on as one of the worst manifestations of political correctness. A story of rampant child abuse—ignored and abetted by the police—is emerging out of the British town of Rotherham. Until now, its scale and scope would have been inconceivable in a civilized country. A story of rampant child abuse—ignored and abetted by the police—is emerging out of the British town of Rotherham. Until now, its scale and scope would have been inconceivable in a civilized country. Its origins, however, lie in something quite ordinary: what one Labour MP called “not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat.” Authorities were afraid of the public backlash as the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin, minorities. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerscruton/2014/08/30/why-did-british-police-ignore-pakistani-gangs-raping-rotherham-children-political-correctness/#635c00925a7c
  • Milo Yiannopoulos , a flamboyant political commentator who was invited by DePaul University’s republican group to a private speech, being shouted at , event was disrupted, the host had his mic snatched by one of the BLM members and later Milo was even threatened with violence by their ringleader. Later it was found out that the security stood by and did nothing on orders from the campus administration. Again an enemy of social justice is justification for all actions against them. http://reason.com/blog/2016/05/25/milo-yiannopoulos-assaulted-by-crazy-stu
  • The very recent Milwaukee riots for the shooting of a allegedly armed black man Sylville Smith by the police. Police pulled Smith over on Saturday afternoon, he fled from the scene, and police gave chase. Smith was carrying a stolen handgun. An officer with six years’ experience caught Smith, reportedly ordered him to drop the gun, and opened fire when Smith failed to comply, shooting him the in the chest and arm. Smith died. According to police, the shooting was caught on camera. (The footage has not yet been released.) But rather than wait for the evidence or for any semblance of an investigation, hundreds of Milwaukee residents rioted, burning police cars, looting stores, and attacking police. Indeed, to listen to some of the protesters and political leaders, the shooting was merely the excuse for the riot, not the justification. Here’s one protester telling reporters that riots are happening because “rich people, they got all this money, and they not . . . trying to give us none.” http://www.nationalreview.com/article/438992/milwaukee-riot-black-lives-matter-police-homicide-rate-khalif-rainey and of course BLM leader DeRay Mckesson immediately blames the state for what happened without any facts. https://twitter.com/deray/status/764836078029332481
Previously i mentioned that the lack of objective standards as one of the problems with Social Justice in recent years the movement has tried to somewhat solve that problem by bringing in the idea of “privilege ranking” or some might call it “the Oppression Olympics”. During the Occupy Wall Street movement, one of the regressive things to emerge from it was the “progressive Stack”. What it meant was basically a guideline of how to judge someone’s privilege based on their race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. While that guideline was loose and some like to include other factors the general idea is there and that is also how the term “check your privilege” came about, you literally had a table to check how privileged you or another person are.

At first what came after this was innocent enough, groups inside the OWS movement implemented rules where the least privileged people who allowed to speak first and the most privileged person (the Straight White Male) was allowed to speak after everyone else had spoken. Then as slippery slopes always are, things escalated to judging the value of someone’s opinions based on their “privilege” and even demanding special treatment to make up for the lack of privilege.

Constructive and reasonable criticisms are then labelled as hate speech and if the commentator happens to be privileged well that makes that criticism even more “ridiculous”. The irony here is that all the talk about racism and sexism and bigotry the social justice movement just managed to convince the majority of the left that judging people based on race, gender , sexual orientation etc is perfectly fine as long as it fits their narrative.

I cannot emphasize the dangers of privilege ranking enough, the previous examples that i mentioned are all “justified” because social justice supporters have managed to convince themselves that because of the lack of privilege that the system or some other race is actively oppressing them and therefore all measures to fight the “oppression” are all justified. Most people do really believe that they are on the side of justice. A short video on “white privilege”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvEvJaF0w2o

What “privileged ranking” does is just to throw stereotypical labels on people based on race, gender etc. Moreover the idea that privilege can be measured on some reasonable scale is just illogical in and of itself. While things like monetary wealth can be easily measured, how can one easily measure emotional support? Social connections? Childhood conditions? Is natural talent considered a privilege?

The amount of time and effort needed to assess a person’s privilege accurately is quite mind boggling. So without a reasonable model to quantify and practical means of doing it how can one then claim to judge who is more or less privileged? The truth of the matter is that there will always be people who are more or less privileged in some ways, short of some extreme marxist idea of making everyone “equal” this kind of privilege will always exist in a free society focused on individualism.

Here i bring up an example of what happens when there is an obsession with privilege. In the US some schools have took it upon themselves to teach young kids about racial issues, specifically that if you are white you are born racist.

http://nypost.com/2016/07/01/elite-k-8-school-teaches-white-students-theyre-born-racist/

The obsession with privilege does nothing to help with “social justice”, infact it goes against the very idea of what they are fighting against. The idea to fight against sexism, racism etc is a noble one but there are better ways to go about doing it. First you need to correctly identify the problems and causes, what often happens nowadays is privilege and systemic oppression is the go to cause for many issues and at the end of the day nothing is solved when the real problems and causes are ignored.

By promoting labels and judging people based on race, gender etc does nothing to help and will only cause more tensions and divide as what is happening in the US, racial tensions are currently at an all time high and recently several police were gunned down by Black men who believe they were getting oppressed and that police were systemically targeting and killing blacks just like what groups like BLM have been preaching thus to them killing cops was justified.

I hope that this acts as a word of caution for the path we are currently on, it might just be the slippery slope that you do not want to be on.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/us/dallas-police-shooting.html?_r=0
http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/07/police-shooting-baton-rouge/491654/

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