Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated last month and I'm reliably informed that he was some sort of racially insensitive bigot who just wanted black Americans to act more white.
I get into these "discussions" on Facebook and I should know better.
I've had people I know touting "social justice" and I'll point out how the term is used to judge and apportion blame on groups of people, irrespective of whether the all of the individuals in that group are guilty of whatever the particular wrong is. The response is that they don't define "social justice" in that fashion. To them, "social justice" is something different. Something purer. Something more "right."
I encourage them to choose a different term to describe what they're talking about, because "social justice" already has a pretty widely accepted meaning in larger society, and if that's not they're talking about, then let's bypass all that confusion and get down to brass tacks.
No thank you, they respond. Why? Because they want the societal affirmation that comes with being enlightened "social justice" proponents, but when someone points out the inconvenient baggage the term carries with it, then "that" isn't what they support.
It comes down to the old line from Humpty Dumpty:
“When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
’The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
’The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that’s all.”
You can try to make your case in the marketplace of ideas while changing the definition of your terms when convenient, but don't expect to win over any skeptics.
And then there's the "privilege" discussions, which, even when they conspicuously don't include the "white" before "privilege," mean "white privilege" 99.9% of the time.
A discussion on "privilege" led to this very interesting argument:
Color blindness as a society doesn’t work, nor should it work. We should allow everyone to celebrate their history and race. Typically “we should stop looking at race” actually means “they should act more white, and that’s just plain wrong. Now I’m not saying you are doing this, but is close.
Now, I'm just fine with allowing people to celebrate their history and race. But a colorblind society means we should act more white? What exactly does "acting white" entail? Bad dancing? Lack of rhythm? Inability to jump? Or are we talking about stuff in this controversial flyer put out by the National Museum of African American History?
Which brings us back to Martin Luther King Jr. and one of his most memorable quotes:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Far too much of the latest wave of civil rights have abandoned the aspirational goals of our nation's founding and instead focused on division, permanent victimhood, and retribution. King, Frederick Douglass and others challenged American society to live up to the promise of its founding, that "all men are created equal."
It's tragic, and only ends up driving us farther apart, rather than bringing us closer together.