I worry recent criticism of social justice is revealing the same thing.
Never before has a devout, vocal, and coherent group of educated, thoughtful, and orthodox gay† Christians sought to articulate what the Church’s teaching might mean for someone who is not attracted to the opposite sex.
Thus the national magazines’ focus on trigger warnings, which happen to be one of the pieces of social justice I really like and have defended at length precisely because they do sometimes help weak people.
When people on Tumblr are being bullied to suicide or told that they’re garbage or outed or getting death threats, that’s the commoners. Or to be even more cynical: social justice was supposed to be Yale’s weapon against Caltech and Podunk.
When a Contemporary Perspectives On American Literature professor is inconvenienced, AAAAAAAAH SOCIAL JUSTICE HAS GONE TOO FAR! But now Yale students are using it against Yale professors and administrators, and now it’s a problem.
It’s like the police beating up city council members with the truncheons they usually reserve for poor ghetto-dwellers; you can bet there will be a newfound concern about police brutality at city council meetings.
And on the one hand, anything that inspires discussion of police brutality at city council meetings is good.
Certainly the SJ-critical movement has been stuck on the same side as people a whole lot creepier than self-serving humanities professors, so what’s the problem? When creepy white supremacists criticize social justice, they’re at no risk of taking over the wider SJ-critical movement.
As the old saying goes, white supremacists are the best argument against white supremacy, and most of them couldn’t take over a blanket fort with a flamethrower.
I started criticizing social justice back in 2010, which doesn’t sound so impressive until you realize that’s two centuries ago in Internet Years. Many others were horrible people next to whom the lesbian-causes-witchcraft types looked like Voltairesque voices of reason.
At the time, you rarely heard such criticism outside of wingnutty lesbianism-causes-witchcraft circles. But over the past few years I’ve been privileged (sic) to meet many other people with the same concerns. But they all had something in common: they were nobodies, and nobody cared what they thought.
I’m not saying that there aren’t important arguments to be had about trigger warnings and safe spaces. But they’re only one of many problems, and far from the worst. All this is doing is granting social justice activists their most dubious claim: that they are trying to use their ideology as a shield for themselves rather than a sword against others (as Popehat brilliantly puts it).