Catholics, Social Justice Warriors and Identity Politics, Part I

by Church Militant  •  •  May 28, 2017   

Guilty merely by virtue of being white, cisgendered and heterosexual

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By J. Anselmo Pium

The internet has done much good in helping with the sharing of ideas among and increasing the interaction among a wide variety of individuals and groups from throughout the world. Yet, for as many good ideas or positive interactions that take place online, many more negative ones take place. Ideas with negative social, political and moral implications can spread like wildfire owing to the internet. Such is the case also with the infamous "Social Justice Warrior" (SJW).

If one rummages around the internet long enough — though in these days it won't take too long — one will see this term thrown around. Depending on where you are on the internet, this term is used either as a badge of honor or as a slur and insult. But for those of you who've never heard this term before, or, as with many other things on the internet, have heard this term thrown around but don't know its meaning, here's a rundown of what so-called SJWs believe: being a mix between Civil Rights-era political and social policies, modern-day incarnations of feminism, and far-left (sometimes even borderline Neo-Marxist) thought, SJWs believe that society, by definition, favors the majority group(s) over the minority group(s). There are thus systems of oppression in place within society that disenfranchise and serve as a hindrance to the social progress of such groups as women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, poor people, homosexuals and transsexuals/transgendered people. (To get insight into what the social commentary of people who support such an ideology would be like — and I use the term "social commentary" very, very loosely — click here and here).

Now, let us not deceive ourselves: The Civil Rights laws of the 1960s did not make racism disappear. It is still very much a problem American society faces. Yet it is increasingly difficult to maintain the idea that society is willingly going out of its way to oppress women, ethnic minorities and other similar groups within the current socio-political context of the United States. For example, CBS reported that the Southern Poverty Law Center found that there was an increase in Ku Klux Klan membership between 2016 and 2017. Yet the Southern Poverty Law Center also found in 2016 that there were only between 5,000 and 8,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan nationwide, oftentimes as members of rival sects (compare that to the early 20th century, when their influence was so great they were called "the invisible empire," and when their numbers were so great that in 1925, there were 4 million members).

It's also hard to maintain this particular socio-political theory when the Pew Research Center found in 2016 that 58 percent of Americans surveyed believe that increasing ethnic, cultural or religious diversity would improve the state of our nation, as opposed to a mere 7 percent who disagree. Compare that to Italy, where 53 percent of those surveyed thought that increased ethnic, cultural or religious diversity would hurt their nation; or Greece, where 63 percent took a similar opinion; or even in the Netherlands, where 36 percent saw increased diversity in a negative light. We are thus more open-minded than some of the most advanced nations in the First World (though, unlike SJWs, this author also believes we must look at other social, political, cultural and possibly even economic factors as well, and not just at "open-mindedness").

The Pew Research Center also found that in the period between 2001 and 2016, the number of people supporting gay marriage increased by 20 percent, so that now 55 percent of the population supports gay marriage. And if things continue on the same path, we will eventually see these numbers increase, since 71 percent of all Millenials (i.e., people in their 30s and younger) support gay marriage. Even the two generations preceding them, both of which were relatively liberal in their political outlook, had a smaller support for gay marriage: Among those surveyed from Generation X, the number of people supporting gay marriage was 56 percent — 12 percent lower than among Millenials, and among Baby Boomers only 46 percent support gay marriage, which is 22 percent lower than among Millenials). Even a little over half of all Catholics and a third of all Republicans claim to support gay marriage.

When more members of the up-and-coming generation support gay marriage than the previous two, both who still had large support for gay marriage, and even when large numbers of members of institutions who are officially, as a matter of principal, opposed to gay marriage support it, that's a sign the Left's agenda to spread "diversity" and "open-mindedness" has permeated a large chunk of society.

Yet SJWs will go a step further and say we are still seeing the long-term effects of institutionalized bigotry from the past. This is not something to be rejected out of hand. A legitimate question to ask is: If this is the case, what are we to do about it? Many would say, "Have programs to 'level the playing field.'" Society is, in many ways, already doing that with racial and sex/gender-based quotas, affirmative action and similar measures.

Some go further. There have even been some who have suggested that modern-day American whites, for example, pay reparations to African-Americans for slavery — even though some whites are the descendants of people who didn't settle in America until after slavery was made illegal; even though some are members of ethnic groups that had little or no presence in the United States prior to abolition; even though some African-Americans are the descendants of African immigrants who came to America only relatively recently; even though some white Americans are also part African-American; in spite of the fact that by 1860, only three quarters of one percent of all whites owned slaves; and despite the fact that by 1830, there were 3,775 freed African slaves in America who collectively owned 12,760 of their fellow African-Americans as slaves.

Let's take, for example, a city near where I live, where a large percentage of the population is Italian. A resident, who is most probably a member of an ethnic group (the Italians) that didn't arrive to America until the late 19th century — living in a city where the second largest ethnic group is Italian, living in a state that outlawed slavery relatively early in American history, and which already had strict regulations on slavery before then — must pay reparations to someone of African-American descent (who, in the state I live in, are a minority)? Where is the social justice in that?

What is the overarching institution that oppresses minority groups? According to SJWs, it is the white, hetero-normative, cis-normative, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy. What does this mean? Whites, heterosexuals and cisgendered people (those who associate with the gender they were assigned at birth) are the majority in society, and thus society favors them over homosexuals, non-whites and transgendered people. It is also a system that favors men over women — not that men represent a greater percentage of the population, at least not by a lot, but rather because society was historically run by men.

Society (and by "society" they mean either American society in specific, or the West in general) also only cares about increasing its wealth and dominance over others. So, simply by being white, cisgendered, heterosexual or a man (or a white, cisgendered, heterosexual man, the most "privileged" group in society), you are helping to perpetuate an intrinsically unjust system. You are benefitting from a system that favors you over others, and the fact that the system can benefit you today is the result of centuries of that same system oppressing others in order to give to the elites.

Doesn't this remind you of when society used to scapegoat another group whose influence supposedly permeated all aspects of society? Who supposedly only looked out for their own, and who didn't care about the rest of society? Who supposedly amassed the majority of the wealth for themselves? And whose ancestors' crimes fell upon their own hands, in perpetuity, and the only way for them to appease the cosmic sense of justice was for them to collectively repent of their sins? And even if individuals within that group did repent, they were still looked upon with suspicion?

Part II forthcoming.


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