Sunday, October 16, 2011

Here’s the problem with “Social Justice”, UPDATED 10/18

According to Wikipedia:
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being…..Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution.
There is a misunderstood idea that only “Progressives” believe in principles of equality and values associated with human rights.  That social justice can only be promoted by those that are actively engaged in trying to rob Peter to pay Paul, whether it is by regulation, taxation, or some combination of policies that target groups of people that have become economically successful.  This is factually incorrect.  In fact throughout history nothing has brought forth more egalitarianism than the ideals of the free market.  While the rage of the anti-corporatists is felt in the United States, we need to remember that places like China, Brazil, and India have actually established stronger economic equality, and maybe even the seeds of strong democratic movements.  Are there winners and losers?  Sure there are, just like there are winners and losers in every economic and political system.  But which system has done better for a greater number of people?  Seriously, take a long historical look. 
I bring this up because of this article by an “ed activist” that insists that social justice be taught in the classroom because it is empirically correct, and it is not the classical “conservative” doctrine that is regularly taught in education.  In fact, he goes so far as to basically blame political conservatism for just about every negative thing to ever happen in history, including quite possibly the creation of Rebecca Black.  It bothers me that this person brings their politics into a classroom, politics that are so tuned to the plight that Zinn or Marx or Chomsky bring up that the overall perspective of history is lost.  His perception is that kids already have a skewed vision of history (most do) and that it is his job to pick and choose what is right and what is wrong.  Now, most logical historians can agree that there are absolute wrongs in things like the American slave trade, the Holocaust, and the lack of equal rights throughout history.  Question; why do we have to prove to kids that those events are wrong?  If we show kids primary source evidence, and we do our jobs to create critical thinking human beings, then doesn’t it compute that kids will come to that sane conclusion on their own? 
Then we move on to harder questions.  I would disagree with the blog post author that Columbus is an easy point for a genocidal maniac, or that the atomic bomb was murder, or that the Equal Rights Amendment was necessary.  I think students need to research that and come to conclusions themselves.  That way when complex political and economic issues are presented, the real social justice comes in the form of intelligent citizens, not from people that insist that their political spectrum is more intelligent than everybody else’s. 

Update 10/18:
You can check out this guy's response to this blog post here.  Look, it's obvious that the guy is passionate, but the guy is not passionate about kids and that's the number one thing to teaching.  You eat your agenda and teach critical thinkers, and if someone decides to follow a path that is opposite of your own political beliefs you are happy that they found something that THEY are passionate about.  I'm not about to get into a flame war with an activist because (as you notice) compromise doesn't exist, the other opinion must be wrong, and nothing should get in the way of fighting the power.  Note; this was Tea Party speak for the last two years.  So read up and enjoy.  I respect opinions and don't judge people because they believe in Marx or Smith or capitalism or socialism or some arrogant notion that their method of social justice is absolutely correct.       
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