Dumbing Down Social Justice

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/04/22/dumbing-down-social-justice/


There are two competing views of equality:  equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes. Last month marked a big win for Team Outcomes.

The New York State Board of Regents decided to scrap its prerequisite — that in order to lead a class of students, prospective teachers must first pass a standardized literacy exam. The reason? Because blacks and Hispanics were passing at lower rates than whites.

This unabashed display of progressive pretension is being done in the name of their cultish “social justice” ideology, and is, as usual, making things worse for those they profess to care so deeply about.

If progressives truly believe in using government to help blacks, Hispanics, and the rest of the perennial “victim class,” then ensuring the quality and standards of public educators would be a sensible place to start. And if they lack this sensibility, then they could at least have the courtesy to allow for more charter-school options.

The reason progressives advocate for neither of these is that they don’t care so much for uplifting “the oppressed” as they do kowtowing to political correctness. And what is political correctness, really, but the belief that we should all wind up with equal outcomes?

The New Left sees an achievement gap between certain identifiable groups, and feels uncomfortable. It is not politically correct to say that blacks commit an inordinate amount of violent crime, or that women tend to earn less than men, or that much of Islamic culture seems incompatible with Western values, without offering a scapegoat as to why. To say any of the aforementioned without a bogeyman, would be to imply that certain identifiable groups are somehow not identical, a cardinal sin in the Church of Social Justice.

The progressive sees these unequal group outcomes and, blinded by political correctness, assumes that duplicitous forces must be at play. 

Rather than honestly confront the serious problems of wedlock and environment, the progressive mind brushes these matters aside and imagines “systemic racism” as an explanation of black crime statistics. 

Rather than acknowledge that men and women are indeed different, and accept that women tend to earn less based on the career and life decisions that they, as independent women, choose to make, the progressive mind subscribes to the theory of the “patriarchy,” an unfounded conspiracy of male collusion. 

Rather than pass judgement on Islamists and those who sympathize with them, the progressive mind concocts elaborate excuses for their abhorrent behavior, and draws false equivalences between Islam and Christianity.

However, upon honest examination, there is no logical reason to expect that different identifiable groups should achieve equal outcomes. As Thomas Sowell notes in his 1998 essay Race, Culture, and Equality, there is no reason to expect equal outcomes in the first place.

He writes, “I was struck again and again with how common huge disparities in income and wealth have been for centuries, in countries around the world — and yet how each country regards its own particular disparities as unusual, if not unique.”

Citing a myriad of examples, he concludes that the reasons for disparate group outcomes are numerous and complex, and we shouldn’t get too hung up on them. Some groups have an older make-up, and as such, can be expected to earn more than those with a younger average age. Other groups may be geographically centered in a poorer area than others. More intangible aspects like culture and history are likely factors as well. Therefore, divergent group outcomes are not sufficient evidence for pervasive discrimination.

Progressives would do well to heed this lesson, and to recognize that government need not and should not steer society toward equal outcomes; liberalization from government serves all people better.

Take, for example, the histories of the immigrant groups who arrived in America at the start of the last century. These people were primarily of Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Chinese stock, and all were seen as “less than”, and discriminated against, both privately and systemically. Yet only a generation or two later, without the help of affirmative action, redistributive policies, and big government oversight, all of these groups had integrated and achieved economic success.

The government’s laissez-faire treatment towards these historically mistreated groups stands in stark contrast to how the state has meddled on behalf of black Americans. 

During his 1965 commencement speech at Howard University, President Lyndon Johnson set the stage for a half century of race-based politicking and government planning when he stated, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”

There is so much wrong in that quote that it deserves a full rebuttal in its own right; however, for the purpose of this essay, the most salient point to make is that there has never been a people lifted out of destitution by government, and it is only big government that keeps people in shackles.

Over a half-century later, and it seems President Johnson’s reasoning is alive and well with the New York State Board of Regents. Unfortunately, by sacrificing quality education on the altars of diversity and political correctness, this left-wing agenda will only reduce the outcomes of blacks and Hispanics.

In New York, black and Hispanic students are largely concentrated in failing schools. By not ensuring a reasonable standard for educators, and by placing a strict cap on the number of charter programs, thus ensuring a virtual state monopoly, the government is systemically disenfranchising kids in these schools. 

New York educrats can pretend as though all of their teachers are amply qualified, and gloat as if they have achieved an equal and diverse workforce, but they have achieved nothing at all; they are living a lie whose repercussions will fall onto the most disadvantaged and vulnerable among us. Johnson spoke of liberating the historically downtrodden, but it is evident that those following his philosophy today are only keeping them hobbled.

Forcing equal outcomes onto society will never work because it is contrary to the human condition. All individuals are unique, and all groups have different stories. It is not the job of government to determine how “oppressed” we all are and calculate what we are owed; it is the job of government to secure that the basic principles of liberty, justice, and openness, continue to exist and foster a free and flourishing society. 

As President Ronald Reagan once put it:  “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”


Matthew Goldberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New Boston Post, Boston Business Journal, and The American Spectator. He can be reached at [email protected]. Like his Facebook page here.”