Word by Word, SJW’s Are Changing America

It is not news that “social justice” ideology, supported by its pillars of “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “equality of results,” has replaced liberal democratic culture in our government, university, and business offices. Instead of being treated as individuals, people are treated according to the racial, gender, sexual preference, and ethnic categories that they belong to. Instead of being assessed by their potential, achievements, and merit, people are now assessed based on the census categories to which they are assigned and the statistical “representation” of category members.

Instead of receiving opportunities that they have earned, today they receive opportunities according to the census categories to which they belong. Instead of being judged on their individual characteristics, people are judged according to whether they belong to “oppressor” or “victim” census categories. Instead of participating in an open competition, white people and members of successful minorities are excluded in order to make places for underperforming minorities.

Flipping Old Bigotries

Old illiberal bigotries, in which women and people of color were demeaned, have not been removed, they have simply been flipped and applied to men and white people, demeaning and vilifying them as women and people of color were demeaned previously. Is the new bigotry more righteous than the old?

How did this revolutionary change in Western culture come about? We did not vote for it; we did not sign on. This was a stealth revolution, camouflaged as a quest for civil liberties and civil rights. Its tactics consist of semantic tricks, redefining reality by twisting the meaning of words. Here are some examples:

Feminists have repeatedly claimed that their goal was “gender equality,” but they have never acted to advance gender equality. They have lobbied remorselessly for special preferences, benefits, and privileges for women, at the expense of men, for example, preferred admittances to university, preferred hiring, fellowships designated for females, gender appointments to boards, and designated gender places in legislatures.

[The War Against White People]

Women are now highly overrepresented in universities, but never have feminists criticized female overrepresentation and called for equality for males. And notwithstanding that overrepresentation, the demands for more women university admittances and hiring, particularly in the STEM fields, are as shrill as ever. In short, “gender equality” for feminists is now unlimited benefits for females at the expense of males.

A New Meaning for ‘Equality’

Perhaps the most remarkable innovation was the feminist rejection of the common meaning of “equality,” which is treating everyone the same, and its replacement with the newly invented criterion “represented at least to the level of its percentage of the general population.” On this basis, the population of any group or organization should always be at least 50 percent female. African Americans must always be at least 13 percent of the group, Hispanics 18 percent, East Asians 5.6 percent, and other smaller groups must be represented by at least a token representation. “Diversity” thus came to be a value in its own right, without need for justification.

This new definition of equality disregards the liberal principle of treating people as individuals and replaces individuals with gross census categories of race (black, white, yellow, red), sex (female, male, trans), sexual preference (hetero, homo, bi), religion (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish), and ethnicity (German, Italian, Irish, British, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Native American, Pacific Islander, etc.).

Academic sociologists have done much to reduce individuals to census categories, and to explain society and various economic, educational, and occupational outcomes on this basis. The fact that they have reified abstract categories into real objects,  emphasizing high-level generalizations, violates the rejection of reductionism, reification, and overgeneralization as unwarranted intellectual errors by other social science disciplines, such as anthropology. But activists advocating for one group or other have latched onto alleged category level “rights,” such as “equal representation.”

If representation of a racial, gender, sexual preference, etc. group is below their percentage of the general population, “social justice” theory concludes that is must be due to prejudice and discrimination, that is racism, sexism, heteronormalism, and bigotry. Other possible explanations, no matter how likely, or how supported by evidence, are not considered.

In another brilliant stroke, “racism” was redefined, from the conventional definition of treating people according to their purported “race,” to the combination of treating people according to their race, and having the power to enforce that treatment. In other words, racism was redefined as bigotry plus power. In this way, only the allegedly powerful could be considered “racist.”

[How Nine Universities Pander to Campus Radicals]

So, no matter how much some members of certain categories, such as the Nation of Islam or Black Lives Matter, hate whites and demean them, members of the “underrepresented” victim categories cannot be accused of being racist, according to this new “social justice” definition.

In America, by this definition, only whites can be racist. For example, according to an apologist, the anti-white rants of Sarah Jeong of the New York Times are “used satirically and hyperbolically to emphasize how white people continue to benefit (even unknowingly) from their skin color,” so are to be regarded as satire rather than racism.

Color Blind Means ‘Racist’

Further, it is regarded as “racist” in the “social justice” view to deny category representation according to gender, race, etc. So, to advocate “color blind” hiring policies is racist.

“Merit,” “achievement,” and “excellence” are now deemed offensive ideas by feminists and social justice advocates because these ideas interfere with the distribution of benefits and privileges based on gender and race. There are two ways in which these ideas are dealt with: One is to redefine “excellence” as “diversity,” as various university committees have done. The other is to proclaim “merit” as a racist and white male supremacist idea. This clears the way for university admissions and jobs, jobs in business and industry, promotions, funding, and awards to be distributed according to gender, race, sexual preference, etc.

Feminist epistemology reduces knowledge to the subjectivity of one’s “position” in society. “Objectivity is the name men have given to their subjectivity.” This is a striking contradiction to the traditional understanding of the term. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “objectivity” as opposed to subjective in the modern sense: That is or belongs to what is presented to consciousness, as

opposed to the consciousness itself; that is, the object of perception or thought, as distinct from the perceiving or thinking subject; hence, that is, or has the character of being, a ‘thing’ external the mind; real.

Generally, the attempt to present an objective view involves the presentation of evidence, evidence that is independent of the ideas and preferences of the observer. But objectivity has been dismissed by feminists, because they believe that they already know all of the correct answers, which are that women are powerful and strong, but always oppressed and discriminated against by men. Nothing further is needed: “Feminism has revealed much more for me about the nature of humanity than science has ever ‘objectively’ put forth.” The feminist conclusion is that feminist ideology is more valid than objectivity, and that “social justice” subjectivity is a valid “truth.”

[The Looming Danger for Dissident Professors]

All values other than racial and gender “equality” are deemed by “social justice” advocates part of a white male conspiracy to hold down victims of white male oppression. Individuality, freedom, and character are all tricks to uphold white male supremacism. So too, according to an NYU professor, is “civility,” calls for which “are just a power play by those who feel that white supremacy is under threat.”

Feminists have defined North American culture as a “rape culture.” They argue that men are taught to rape, encouraged to rape, and rewarded for raping. The idea of “rape culture” is necessary for feminists because they say that all identities and actions are socially constructed. It is also convenient to scare females back into the arms of feminist “sisters.” In fact, “rape culture” is entirely a feminist fabrication, because, in North American culture, men are not taught to rape, are not encouraged to rape, and are punished severely for rape. Rapes do take place, but so do holdups, car accidents, skiing deaths, but not because we have a holdup culture, car accident culture, or skiing death culture.

In common usage, rape means the sexual penetration of an unwilling person. But to increase the appearance of rape, and thus scare females into believing that they are always being victimized by men, feminists have redefined rape — first as sexual relations whenever the woman has had too much to drink, and, secondly, any consensual sexual relations that the female later regrets.

This is a feminist double standard, because drunk men, unlike drunk women, are held accountable for their actions, and any male regrets about a sexual encounter carry no recognized blame for the female partner. Only through portraying men as dangerous evil exploiters, partly through distorting the meaning of words, can feminists ensure sisterhood solidarity among females.

When antisemitic statements are made by “social justice” activists, they are sometimes criticized by others. But when Muslim activists make antisemitic statements and are criticized, the critics are denounced as “Islamophobes,” criticism being redefined as “Islamophobia.” For “social justice” activists, Muslims are a protected minority whose acts are not open to scrutiny, and who must be protected at all costs. On the other hand, Jews and Christians are regarded as legitimate targets for “social justice” advocates and activists.

[How ‘Social Justice’ Undermines True Diversity]

“Violence” in common usage is a physical attack, in which the attacker uses physical force to constrain or injure the victim. No longer. Now, we have “educational violence.” “Violence” has now been expanded to include the presenting of views that do not support one’s personal views, or that one finds uncomfortable or uncongenial. As one Middlebury student put it, we are “students who have had to deal with educational violence oftentimes perpetuated by white male faculty.”

The last example is “safe,” a word that in common usage means avoiding harm, danger, or injury, usually of a physical nature. But “social justice” university students now claim to be “unsafe” if ideas with which they do not agree are expressed. Thus “safe spaces” must be provided so that their identity and ideological sensibilities do not suffer. This is the foundation of the war against free speech on campuses.

Among common strategies for transforming society are elections, legislation, armed rebellion, terrorism, and undermining the culture. It is this latter strategy that special interest groups—feminists, racial minorities, and LGBT minorities—have pursued, in the hope of influencing public opinion and generating legislation in their favor. This stealth transformation of culture has involved redefining words and concepts to advance the special interests of these activists. Through disingenuous semantic manipulation, these special interests have succeeded in pushing the aside basic human rights and civil liberties of the majority and unfavored minorities. al

Isn’t it time for the victims of special minority interests to resist and take a stand for their own rapidly disappearing human rights? Shouldn’t each of us have the right to be treated as an individual rather than as a category member; the right to speak our minds rather than be silenced because some say that anything they disagree with is “hate speech”; the freedom to hear different points of view rather than suffer mob censorship; the right to equal access to admissions, funding, jobs, and benefits rather than be advantaged or disadvantaged by category; the right of freedom of movement, presence, and association rather than face barriers by “social justice” apartheid of racial, gender, sexual preference dorms, dining, and ceremonies; in sum, the right not to be a victim of “social justice” impositions?

Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

12 thoughts on “Word by Word, SJW’s Are Changing America

  1. What if I were to tell you that actually having your opinions challenged is a healthy part of growth and maturity, and that not everyone has to conform to the same set of standards for thought and belief.

    The SHW mentality is destroying free thought and debate: it is a plague on actual rational thought and intellect, and the sooner it dies, the better off our institutions of “higher learning” will be.

  2. “social justice warrior” is liberal speak for totalitarianism. there is nothing just about what they want. stop calling them what they want you to call them and call them what they are.

  3. And at what point will “White People” decide it is in our best interest to start eliminating the threat????

  4. The article identifies what is happening but it is not just the US it is all of the west including Europe, Australia etc. Generally the situation in the US paticularily in academia and politics seems more extreme than elsewhere but where the US leads others generally follow.

    A complimentary trend to the identity politics redefinition of sexism and racism is an attack on the idea of evidence and of the existence of an objective reality. I find this the more disturbing. A jury composed of people who routinely overide evidence with ideology is not a comfortable idea if you should become a target. A society that ignore evidence is not going to thrive in the long term.

  5. The SJWs have destroyed the English language arts, which were the product of western civilization, which, itself, was the flowering of Greco-Judaic-Christian thought and art.

  6. An interesting development is the conflict between the self-appointed “oppressed” groups. For instance, radical feminists are not so happy with trans men inviting themselves into women enclaves. Martina Navratilova took a kicking for saying that XY people should not be allowed to enter women’s sports. Meanwhile, Caster Semenya, who is XY, and is intersex (very rare) is told that he/she must take testosterone lowering drugs if he/she wants to compete in women’s sports. The social justice warrior positions are not logically consistent or coherent, and these strains are starting to appear.

  7. Great op-ed, Dr. Salzman. Too bad you are “emeritus.” We need more professors like you. I’m publishing a book (due in print in Jan. 2020) called, “White Shaming: Bullying based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance” that addresses almost all the ideas you’ve raised in this piece. Kudos to you(!). Charles Negy, University of Central Florida.

  8. Hello communism. Lenin’s War Communism didn’t work so Stalin and later communist internationals resorted to psychological warfare. You and I were taught in grade school about Socialism and state owned means of production. At least I did.
    Changing our language is part of it. When did liberal…Limited government, become “liberalism’ and BIG GOVERNMENT??The press has been compliant in spread the culture war. What we used to think as ‘buzz’ words, are in fact a move to change or reduce the means of communication our language provides.

  9. Excellent article, Dr. Salzman.
    This type of redefinition to criminalize certain groups within a society in order for other groups to gain power happens throughout history. It is the way that fascism operates. Replace “Jews” with “White” or “Male” and “Aryan” for “Women” and you can easily see the way third wave Feminism apes Nazis. Because they are trying to eliminate biology and start history over again, they will fail, but millions of people will suffer and die due to their idiocy and fanaticism.

    1. The SJWs have destroyed the English language arts, which were the product of western civilization, which, itself, was the flowering of Greco-Judaic-Christian thought and art.

    2. it is the way communism works. communism, Nazism, fascism all the same totalitarian idea given different labels at different times to hide the guilty. and that eliminating biology and starting history over are ideas that come right out the Frankfurt school of communism.

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