Social Justice Activism Subverting Education

News: US News
by Martina Moyski  •  •  December 31, 2019   

Report: University teaching, structures undermine Western culture

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NEW YORK ( - An independent association of scholars has issued an explosive report describing American universities as indoctrination camps where politically motivated activism has almost completely subverted education.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) conducted the comprehensive examination of the inner workings and powerful forces at work in more than 60 universities that have, according to their research, transformed learners into social justice activists. The Association's 275-page report, "Social Justice Education in America," issued in December, explains how social justice advocates have insinuated themselves into the university system to propagandize students.

The report offers strategies to change this academic landscape as well as reforms NAS thinks are appropriate to re-focus university priorities on learning.

President Peter Wyatt Wood says providing a definition of social justice proves futile, as it is found "everywhere in higher education" as "a slogan for student activists, the raison d'etre of many academic programs, the research focus of scholars in many fields, part of the formal mission statements of many colleges and a phrase that rolled off the tongues of sophomores as the smug answer to virtually any question about public policy."

Wood said the term articulates a specific "sensibility":

I dislike the United States and American culture. American society treats people unfairly. American culture elevates the wealthy and the privileged over everybody else. It is oppressive. I'm oppressed. I want to change everything. I especially want to change things in the direction of redistributing wealth and privilege. Those should be taken away from the people I don't like and given to me and the people I do like. The key to making this happen is to raise awareness among those who are oppressed and who don't necessarily know they are oppressed. Calling for social justice is a way of bringing people together to overthrow the systemic injustices all around us.

For Wood, though, "Justice traditionally judges freely chosen individual acts, but social justice judges how far the distribution of economic and social benefits among social groups departs from how they 'ought' to be distributed."

The ideal of social justice replaces the ideal of education.

Though the report found the definition of social justice hard to pin down, it noted clear manifestations on college campuses.

Social justice education, the report explains, takes the entire set of social justice beliefs as the predicate for education in every discipline, from accounting to zoology. It rejects the idea that classes should teach a subject matter for its own sake or foster students' ability to think, judge and write as independently worthy aims.

Social justice education upends the very definitions of academic disciplines, first by permitting the substitution of social justice activism for intellectual endeavor, and then requiring it.

Racism, Feminism, Trans Advocacy

Social justice beliefs center on eliminating privilege, which is irrevocably connected to race. Heather Mac Donald says in her commentary about the NAS report, "The Cost of America's Cultural Revolution," that social justice pedagogy is driven by the preoccupation with "the seemingly intractable achievement gap between whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other."

The "intractable achievement gap" becomes Sisyphean, one that can never be completed, thus ensuring the eternal need for social justice warriors.

America is among the least racist countries on the planet.

According to Mac Donald, "liberal whites are terrified that the achievement and behavior gaps will never close. So they have crafted a totalizing narrative about the racism that allegedly holds back black achievement."

She said, "America is among the least racist countries on the planet," adding:

There is not a single mainstream institution not trying to hire and promote as many under-represented minorities as possible. Conservative philanthropists and corporations spend billions each year on social-uplift programs to close the achievement gap. Taxpayer dollars are as liberally distributed from government coffers. We so take these efforts for granted that we don't even see them; they have no effect on the dominant narrative about white indifference and exploitation.

Radical feminism and now trans advocacy are also deeply intertwined with social justice teaching and learning on campus and off, spawning courses like "queer theory" and "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex life."

Ingrained in Academic Bureaucracy

Social justice education has made its "dizziest success" in the "takeover" of the university administration where commitment to social justice has become an explicit or an implicit requirement, the report says. Administrators insert themselves into all aspects of student life, both outside and inside the classroom:

  • Catechizing students in social justice propaganda
  • Electing social justice advocates as outside speakers
  • Funneling students to off-campus social justice organizations that benefit from free student labor
  • Providing jobs and money for social justice cadres among the student body

Perhaps most importantly, according to Wood, university administration provides careers solidifying universities' focus on activism. In addition to Title IX coordinators, social justice-supporting infrastructure includes university "offices" like the following:

  • Diversity and Multicultural Affairs
  • First-Year Experience and Community Engagement
  • Student Life and Residential Life
  • Service-Learning and Civic Engagement
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Sustainability and Social Justice

The concept of social justice spread during the Revolutions of 1848 and by the influence of Karl Marx, making its way into literature and political discussions. Now "social justice" is an ubiquitous phrase freely crossing both secular and religious borders.

According to the report, the social justice agenda "cripples the transmission of Western Civilization," tossing out its primary hallmarks — art, literature, science and religion: "Social justice education — compulsive, coercive, and bullying — replaces the academic's search for truth with the activist's search for power."

Preventing Cultural Loss

Mac Donald notes that the greatest sin of the social justice influence in education is "to teach students to hate this cultural inheritance," adding, "The social justice crusaders are stripping the future of everything that gives human life meaning: beauty, sublimity and wit."

NAS recommends in its report removing social justice education from:

  • undergraduate general education requirements
  • introductory college courses
  • departments that provide employment credentials
  • higher education administration (positions/bureaucracies)

The National Association of Scholars is an independent membership association of academics and others working to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America's colleges and universities.

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