David Thompson
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October 13, 2008

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Anna

From Johnson's article:

"When several students complained to the professor about the course's politicized content, they were informed that their previous education had left them "brainwashed" on matters relating to race and social justice… Troubled by this response, at least five students filed written complaints with the department chair last December. They received no formal reply, but soon discovered that their coming forward had negative consequences. One senior was told to leave Brooklyn and take an equivalent course at a community college. Two other students were accused of violating the college's "academic integrity" policy and refused permission to bring a witness, a tape recorder, or an attorney to a meeting with the dean of undergraduate studies to discuss the allegation."

Academic integrity! Social justice! Priceless.

gaffee

Does "social justice" include ending the racist policy of affirmative action?

David

Well, as Johnson says,

“Education programs could define a number of causes as demonstrating a commitment to social justice — perhaps championing Israel’s right to self-defense, so as to defend innocent civilians against suicide murderers; or celebrating a Roman Catholic anti-abortion initiative, so as to promote justice by preventing the destruction of innocent life; or opposing affirmative action, so as to achieve a socially just, color-blind, legal code. Yet… adherents of such views are scarce in the academy.”

Given how often the term “social justice” is used, it’s odd how rarely and poorly it’s defined. But it *sounds* like something one ought to be in favour of – as opposed to, say, “social injustice” – and I suppose the meaning is tacit and absorbed via some kind of social osmosis.

Candice

By refusing to define terms explicitly one can preserve their utility as a bludgeon. In language, the large blunt instruments can be as effective as a sharp, precise one- especially when the goal is conformity and not enlightenment.

How easy would it be to use the phrase "social justice" as a compelling argument if it was defined? What if it was understood to mean "favoring an individual based on arbitrary criteria of no relation to the needs of the academic position?" Doesn't sound much like justice anymore, does it?

bgc

"Social justice" is a chameleon phrase. It can adapt itself to whatever ideology is using it and has no substance behind it - except, perhaps, an ill-defined element of coercion and sanctimonious bullying. At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, it occurred to me while reading this post that the phrase could easily have been used in Nazi Germany (and maybe was), where it would have had an ostensibly different content, but would have had precisely the same intent: to brainwash, to eliminate open discussion, and to cow dissent.

And no, David, I don't think you make too much of this sort of thing. I am constantly astonished and alarmed at the unsubtle, intolerant, narrow and highly ideological indoctrination that I see happening around me these days. It is the opposite of what should happen in an open and vibrant society.

David

It’s rather like how the words “inequality” and “inequity” are often used interchangeably, as if inequality must always be unfair, which isn’t the case at all.

“And no, David, I don’t think you make too much of this sort of thing.”

I’ll carry on then.

rxc

This is part of the Gramscian strategy to get your ideas accepted by society. By saying them often enough that older non-"critical thinkers" accept them as truth, and by inculcating the young, so that they don't learn critical thinking processes, and never hear alternative explanations. In some ways, it is like the way tht the military trains recruits - you have to beat them down to nothing before you can build them the way you like.

It is amazing how frequently these techniques are used in our society. Business uses them, the education system is set up to use them, and the mainstream media serves as a major conduit for the disinformation. I am starting to think that I need to stop thinking about it, and just live with it - no kids to worry about, and when I die, I don't care.

Drink more wine and eat more French food....

Anna

David,

This is good on “social justice” education:

"The first roadblock I hit is in the first sentence: "debating." In a classroom setting, with one teacher and a pack of students, exactly whom is the teacher supposed to be "debating?" Perhaps the word was chosen because "indoctrinating" just doesn't sound too good, even if it's the right word. The pitch is that this is hands-on education, that its recipients not only learn, they apply the learning as they go. But the problem is, this approach conflates the methodology of scientific inquiry or the skill of reading with the required opinions and theories that are leavened into the lesson. It falsely sets them up as equal, and mutually supporting. They are not. You can use statistics, close reading, lab experiments to reach conclusions that are anathema to the "social justice" fetishists. The "purpose of learning" is higher than "political ramifications." The ways of perception obey no ideologies."

http://vernondent.blogspot.com/2008/02/social-justice-education.html

David

Anna,

Thanks for that. It does highlight the pretty standard assumption that a teacher automatically has an *equal* and *reciprocal* relationship with his students - including children - and that this therefore qualifies as “debate” rather than grooming and indoctrination. We’re supposed to believe that, despite the tendentious nature of the project, the “debate” will somehow work both ways and students, including children, will be able to press their teacher on *his* assumptions and refute any errors. And that they too will have the time and wherewithal to gather evidence to support a contrary position and argue it on an equal footing.

This is, to say the least, not entirely convincing. It sounds much more like an opportunity for adults to indulge their own political leanings – of one kind in particular – and imprint them on people who are at an obvious disadvantage and cannot adequately defend themselves. If “indoctrination” sounds a little too harsh and realistic, I suppose we could replace it with “steering those who can’t argue back terribly well towards the political conclusions you feel they ought to have.”

So much for fairness and equality.

carbon based lifeform

"In a classroom setting, with one teacher and a pack of students, exactly whom is the teacher supposed to be 'debating?'"

I can "debate" politics my 12-year-old and win every time. Funny that.

rabbit

A big one now is "sustainability". Who could be against that? But the word is now a Trojan horse, carrying within its belly a strongly socialist agenda.

As an example, see

"http://www.myacpa.org/task-force/sustainability/docs/TFSJ Sustainability.ppt"

What's especially worrisome is that many universities have officially adopted the concept of sustainability as a basic principle. The University of British Columbia, for example, has the UBC Sustainability Office. One is left wondering how much socialist political baggage this office carries.

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