Orginos is a senior in college and has managed to pen an indictment of the authoritarian Social Justice Warriors which has escaped most mainstream commenters. In addition he has made an important general observation also worth highlighting.
And herein lies the problem — in attempting to solve pressing and important social issues, millennial social justice advocates are violently sabotaging genuine opportunities for progress by infecting a liberal political narrative with, ironically, hate.My only quibble is that Orginos ties this broadly to a generational frame, i.e. millennials. While there might be a greater prevalency of the Gramscian memes of third-wave feminism, critical theory, post-modernism and post-colonial studies, it is in my opinion bound more by certain fields of study (MFA, sociology, psychology, anthropology, all the Studies fields and to some degree English) rather than by age cohort.
Many will understand this term I used — millennial social justice advocates — as a synonym to the pejorative “social justice warriors.” It’s a term driven to weakness through overuse, but it illustrates a key issue here: that, sword drawn and bloodthirsty, millennial social justice advocates have taken to verbal, emotional — and sometimes physical — violence.
In a dazzlingly archetypical display of horseshoe theory, this particular brand of millennial social justice advocates have warped an admirable cause for social, economic, and political equality into a socially authoritarian movement that has divided and dehumanized individuals on the basis of an insular ideology guised as academic theory. The modern social justice movement launched on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Jezebel, Slate, Huffington Post, et al. is far more reminiscent of a Red Scare (pick one) than the Civil Rights Movement.
When George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four (and here some will lambast me for picking a white male author from a historically colonialist power despite the fact that he fought and wrote against this colonialism), he wrote it to warn against the several dangers of extremism on either side of the political spectrum. Orwell’s magnum opus is about authoritarianism on both ends of the political spectrum. If the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, then the arc of the political spectrum bends toward authoritarianism at both ends.
This particular brand of social justice advocacy assaults reason in a particularly frightening way — by outright denying it and utilizing fear-mongering to discourage dissent. There is no gray: only black and white. One must mimic the orthodoxy or be barred forcibly from the chapel and jeered at by the townspeople. To disagree with the millennial social justice orthodoxy is to make a pariah of oneself willingly. Adherence to the narrative is the single litmus test for collegiate (and beyond) social acceptance these days.
To the social justice advocate of our time, conclusions are not contingent on facts; rather, facts are contingent on conclusions. In a global example of confirmation bias, the truth is malleable. The malleable truth is molded around the theoretical viewpoints of social justice. In order to uphold the sanctity of this viewpoint, adherents ostracize dissension. It’s nothing new — it’s a tactic as old as religion itself. Instead of holy texts, though, the millennial social justice advocate bows at the altar of the currently-in-vogue ideological Trinity: Marxism, Feminism, and Post-Colonialism.
What I am talking about so far is not meant to discredit feminism or any social justice position that seeks to empower oppressed people or remedy social ills. As I made abundantly clear to begin with, these are fundamentally good and necessary goals. What is the issue here are the tactics used by some from a purported place of moral high ground to immunize themselves from criticism while promoting a close-minded authoritarian vice-grip on society through chillingly sinister tactics.
Using misleading statistics to push an agenda does no one any good. It derails progress by attempting to support a legitimate cause with shoddy foundations. Foundations that, in time, will collapse — and a movement with it.
Here’s the issue — many reading this will be incensed just by the fact that I am bringing up these statistics in a negative light. After all, why would I do such a thing if not to paint feminism in a bad light or to play down the issue of rape on campus? As a heterosexual male, it is assumed that I am doing this fact-checking not in the name of academic honesty, but for sexist reasons or because I am a rape apologist or because I think women are “asking for it.”
But here’s the thing — who I am does not (or should not) have any bearing on facts. The problem with this brand of modern social justice advocacy is that who one is as a person (race, class, gender, etc.) is the be all and end all of their capacity to have a certain viewpoint. A millennial social justice advocate can discount an opinion simply because it is said or written by a group they feel oppresses them. It is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem whereby one attacks the person saying an argument rather than the argument itself. But this logical fallacy has become the primary weapon of the millennial social justice advocate. It is miasma to academia, to critical thinking, and to intellectual honesty. Yet it is the primary mode of operating on college campuses nationwide.
The fact of the matter is, this particular brand of millennial social justice advocacy is destructive to academia, intellectual honesty, and true critical thinking and open mindedness. We see it already having a profound impact on the way universities act and how they approach curriculum.
The arguments made under the banner of this type of social justice are often petty, usually mean-spirited, and always absolved of any guilt by the speaker’s moral self-positioning. And yes, sometimes they’re sexist and racist, too.
To view everything through a particular theoretical viewpoint (that is, feminist, Marxist, post-colonialist, etc.) is an intellectual limiting exercise that works only in a vacuum. The world is more than one viewpoint. The ostricization of those who hold alternate viewpoints is not any way conducive to social progress. The opposite of hatred is not hatred in the opposite direction. There is no excuse — none — for being a bad person toward another on the basis of their identity.
The version of millennial social justice advocacy that I have spoken about — one that uses Identity Politics to balkanize groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy — is not admirable. It is deplorable. It appeals to the basest of human instincts: fear and hatred. It is not an enlightened or educated position to take. History will not look kindly on this Orwellian, authoritarian perversion of social justice that has taken social media and millennials by storm over the past few years.