The good and the bad of the new social justice warriors
The culture war in America is heating up. There is more vitriolic speech, there is more violence, hatred, and rioting than most young people have ever witnessed. The riot in downtown Salt Lake City a year ago, May 30th, 2020, in front of Library Square after the George Floyd video was released, spoke to the level of anger that even Salt Lakers were feeling.
The new group of self-described “social justice warriors” march under various banners from “Black Lives Matter” to “Clean our Dirty Air Now!” to “Stop the Polluting Inland Port!” to “Justice for Bernardo.” They are seeking justice for the perceived oppression of mostly ethnic minorities and Black Americans, and they are seeking to have a voice where many feel disenfranchised.
There are some positive developments due to these protests, especially some of the criminal justice and police reforms thanks to Black Lives Matter President Lex Scott and her focus on legal changes in police reform that could hold police departments and individual officers more accountable for unnecessary violence against minorities.
Scott says, unlike the national organization, Utah’s BLM chapter doesn’t have a “Marxist agenda,” and the organization isn’t led by the national group, but local chapters set their own agenda. But Salt Lake City has seen its share of violence of vitriol mostly due to the growing common belief that so many on the right, Trump supporters, and Republicans are white supremacists.
Some of the most vocal political protests and organizers do not believe that engagement in civil discourse is valid. Many seem now to contend that points of view on the right should be silenced or shut down.
Back in 2017 Utah Stories covered the protest against Ben Shapiro (who SJWs deemed a “white supremacist”), most didn’t actually know Shapiro, or were familiar with his positions, but were told that he was such by a group called SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).
SDS was formerly part of the 1960s movement was to facilitate protests on over 300 University Campuses nationwide promoting free speech and opposition to the Vietnam war. Today, they only want to hear from speakers and the values of one particular political party: The far left, and they aren’t shy in showing their disdain for voices on the right.
They attempted to shut down Ben Shapiro from speaking on the campus of the University of Utah in 2017. And today many of their slogans and chants seem to fall in line with Antifa’s sentiments, as seen in a recent protest photo promoted on their Facebook page that reads, “Nazis on our streets, Queers bash back!”.
How did we get here? How did our campuses become battlegrounds against conservative thought and speakers?
In this episode of the Utah Stories Show, we delve into the topic of how the rise of “Postmodernism” taught by many university professors has eroded the civil discourse in America and in Utah. Postmodernists believe that the “grand narratives ” that we have traditionally taught in schools and that have defined America’s story are actually false. That America’s real founding (in 1619), and the slave trade that defined that era, would precipitate the culture of oppression and subjugation of minorities that persists to this day.
Further, new ideas of history, gender, and race are quickly becoming an established curriculum in most Universities in America. Probably the most controversial is Critical Race Theory, which contends that all Whites are inherently racist, and Whites should be aware of their inherent racism and work to become “anti-racists”. These ideas are beginning to be taught even to children in elementary school, as are the ideas of gender fluidity.
In Our Humble Opinion
Our opinion is that these concepts are corrosive to the fundamental precepts that have made America great. First, Is America a racist country?
One only needs to examine the millions of people around the world with brown or black skin who want to immigrate to the United States to understand that America –while we do have issues of racism–is by-in-large the most tolerant and accepting country on Earth. One only needs to examine the success of African immigrants to see this notion is false. Why would they come here if America were so racist?
America is the most free society on Earth for individuals who wish to work hard to achieve their dreams. Due to America’s “Great Experiment” freedom and democracy have spread worldwide and have helped lift billions of people out of poverty. More people are being lifted out of poverty, due to the spread of free markets and democracy (see Steven Pinker research), at a faster pace today than ever before.
What is changing in America is a shift in values and perceived “rights”. Whereby our founders believed inalienable rights are endowed to us by our creator: those rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Today many leftists believe that “rights” are granted to us by the government, and “rights” should be expanded for the poor, at the expense of liberty for the wealthy. Senator Bernie Sanders is the thought leader of this concept. These new leftists’ ideas believe that the new job of the government is to “solve” the issues of wealth disparity by expanding “rights” to include free education, free healthcare, free housing, and offering a “Universal Basic Income.”
What they fail to communicate or realize is that it is not possible to offer rights or entitlements to anything of monetary value, provided by the government can be given to one person without taking from another person. And in so pushing for rights they are forcing a new kind of class warfare and revolt using the pandemic to allow a huge percentage of Americans to stay home and collect government checks, while we pile up massive amounts of government debt. The burden of this debt will fall squarely on the backs of productive Americans. Will this new model be sustainable? Certainly not.
The liberty and freedom of the hardest-working Americans must be trampled upon to accomplish these new leftists’ “rights”. In our next episode on the culture wars in Utah, we will examine the topic of rights, and oppression further.
Utah Stories has always attempted to be non-partisan local news and story provider. We work very hard to provide both sides to politically oriented content and we greatly appreciate all comments that help us to understand the truth and clarify any confusion over positions and ideas, which help facilitate civil discourse.