Defining the term social justice
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 16:09
Assuming that you don’t live under some impermeable rock at UVM, you’ve probably heard or read about Vermont’s favorite buzzword: social justice. Indeed, you may be aware of this term’s existence, and you may be under the reasonable impression that social justice is synonymous with “good,” but, ultimately, its meaning remains questionable and vague among students.
For the amount of times that academics chant this term, they don’t bother to couple it with any semblance of an explanation. In fact, many first-years probably attended a seminar on social justice during orientation, after which they still found themselves puzzled.
Mind you, this was the first time I had ever heard of this buzzword, and, to my dismay, I was never met with an appropriate definition for this term. I sat through a tirade of invective regarding the alleged evils of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and a commendation of the goodness and social justice-demonstrating actions of Gandhi — and I thought that goodness and social justice were synonymous — only to learn that “social justice isn’t diversity.” This was the only definition the social justice worker gave to provide the term with meaning.
But that’s precisely the case. It’s certainly easier to explain what social justice isn’t than what it actually is, because liberals say it means almost everything, or, more precisely, everything they support.
The fact that the social justice advocates took several hours to attempt to explain what the term means shows that this term has no parameters, no boundaries. Did your middle school social studies teacher take three hours to explain capitalism to you? Certainly not. Capitalism comes complete with boundaries and parameters. Whether or not you like capitalism, you probably have a grasp on its semantics.
But, social justice can range far in meaning, from the importance of simply being a good person to the redistribution of wealth, if that wasn’t already the case. I suspect that it was.
This is one of the reasons that the term social justice is so crooked. Its flagrant dishonesty stems from the fact that liberals can inform you of the importance of social justice, and, deceptively, place their ideology tacitly under its ever-expanding definition. And if you don’t bite the bait, you’ll be labeled a bigot or, as they say, “part of the problem.”
On a day when liberals are feeling honest about social justice, they might tell you that, in order to support it, you must also support programs or ideas like affirmative action, gay marriage, gun control or a high minimum wage — hereinafter referred to as “economic justice.” In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary records social justice as a synonym for “distributive justice,” which, essentially, lists property, income and commodities as rights, just in case you didn’t see those things in the Bill of Rights.
Social justice has come to embody the core tenets of modern liberalism. Its logic presents itself like this: social justice is good. Social justice embodies progressive ideology. If you disagree with social justice, you not only reject progressivism, you reject goodness and are, therefore, evil.
It is also apparent that social justice is a misnomer. Injustice can only exist in situations where humans intentionally create it. Might liberals claim that unemployment is unjust? If proprietors of businesses cannot afford to hire more or pay more, are they also “part of the problem”? Are the consumers who refuse to create more demand for products also impediments to social justice?
Not only is social justice dangerous to political discourse and debate, but it is also hazardous to the rule of law. There are many injustices that have been committed in the name of social justice. The Crown Heights Riots, for example, which were instigated by “social justice advocate” Al Sharpton — though we on the Right prefer the term “race-baiting advocate”— resulted in the death of several innocent Jews.
Or perhaps we should refer to the Arab Spring, which liberals laud as an excellent example of social justice. Yet, to date, it has proved itself only to be a “spring” of senseless violence and oppressive Islamist rule. These are only a few of the countless horrors committed in the name of social justice. It shows that if social justice can transcend the power of law — real justice — then law can be interpreted on an individual, selective basis.
Social justice is incompatible with political debate and discourse, as it seeks to make obsolete these essential components of democracy. If liberals find it necessary to sell their ideology under an amorphous rubric, perhaps they ought to redesign their ideology, and ethics, to fit a form more honest and open to the American public. There is not, nor was there ever, anything just about social justice.