Smith: Social justice ain't what it used to be

Smith: Social justice ain't what it used to be

April 9th, 2018 by Robin Smith in Opinion Columns

A cosmotology instructor at Brainerd High School speaks to a social justice class from Girls Preparatory School in 2016.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The term "social justice" has been thrown around a lot lately. It sounds like something that should be supported. And that's exactly why it's an addition to the lexicon of activists who operate by shaming others into agreement rather than winning an argument based on principle.

Social justice originated in the Catholic Church as a philosophy and doctrine of human dignity, but politics has hijacked its meaning.

Today, the concept of social justice calls forth a state of egalitarianism, or human equality as related to social, political and economic affairs, according to Merriam-Webster. Putting today's theory into action is seen in the removal of inequalities experienced by individuals through governments, groups and policy.

Robin Smith

Robin Smith

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

How does this vary from the origins of social justice in the Christian faith? Originally, social justice was taught and sought to be the "respect for the human person and the rights which flow from human dignity and guarantee it. Society must provide the conditions that allow people to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and vocation."

Interestingly, the modern-day version speaks of removing inequalities through redistribution — taking from some and reallocating to others. Now contrast that with the original faith-based philosophy, which focused on the equality of opportunity and obtaining one's "due according to their nature and vocation."

Today, social justice works to allow a third-party institution to administer equality, while faith intended social justice to be accomplished through the dignity of self-reliance, one's own nature and work through equal opportunity, not outcomes.

Of course there will always be a need for the very important role of charity and benevolence. Yet, establishing secularly assigned morality to a forced redistribution of resources to achieve equality instead of empowering an individual to achieve according to his or her own nature and abilities is not only beneath human dignity, it's dishonest.

Social justice warriors of our day protest and pontificate in demanding safe spaces on college campuses to avoid offense and demand free birth control, open borders, a universal wage provided by the government without work, "free" health care, and the list goes on.

To hoist the banner of the good guys fighting the bad guys, social justice advocates are committed to victimhood rather than self-reliance; identity politics rather than principled discussions; and heated rhetoric that marginalizes anyone who disagrees as an enemy of the common good.

Social justice, as applied in society through the church and individual engagement, is a critical ingredient of a good, civil society. It establishes personal connection and community value through compassion and action to lend a hand to empower another.

Social justice, as packaged for government power and political control over individuals through a sense of faux philanthropy and an institutional approach to sameness, not equal opportunity, is unhealthy for everyone and a drain on society because it doesn't empower. It entraps wards of the state.

Beware.

Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, owns Rivers Edge Alliance.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com