The Ubiquitous Term: Social Justice

Sep 14, 2012 |  Crystal Plum

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The Ubiquitous Term: Social Justice

Sep 14, 2012 | 

Crystal Plum

Social justice is the phrase buzzing around campuses across America. As the topic increases in popularity, it seems to echo as a resounding mantra throughout university halls. This week Robert Engler of the Canada Free Press expressed his grievances with this article.

He quotes both Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne of NAS. They say the term social justice is “a roomy term that encompasses a large set of political mantras about racism, sexism, and the rest.” Whatever social justice once meant, the term now, as Engler states, is linked to socialist ideals at worst and some kind of do-gooder, redistribution indoctrination at best. While the push for social justice has unclear goals and outcomes, it presents itself most often as an ideology.

Although the ideology of equality sounds nice, in practice, “social justice” advocacy in the classroom gives students direction for belief but little scientific, fact-based information. The world envisioned by university advocates for social justice looks more like one in which “men…have lost their individuality” and “equality…means ‘sameness’ rather than ‘oneness’.”


| November 30, 2012 - 12:31 PM

I’ve long held the term “social justice” to be a red flag for “injustice.”  If social justice is justice, why use a different term?  Why not just call it “justice” and get on with the work?  And if social justice is different than justice, (which I believe it is,) then that would seem to move it away from actual Justice.

So when I hear people advocating social justice, I think back to President Reagan’s “nine most terrifying words,”  I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  Yikes!

Harold J. Harris

| December 13, 2012 - 12:57 PM

That brief analysis of the concept “social justice” says it all, however there’s a world of difference between saying something like that in the context of a national publication and having it said locally by a number of individuals who are prepared to act on it. To its great shame Kalamazoo Collge, whose faculty I was a member of from 1954 to 1990, recently established what it considers the very first academy devoted to teaching “social justice” to those who are intended to go out into the world and demonstrate (?) it to others.  So far as I can make out, there w3as neither any attempt by the institution to define that slippery term nor any criticism of the idea of such an academy by anyone presently associated with the College or, like me, associated with it in the past.  Exactly twice over the last six months there have been letters to the local newspaper questioning the very notion of social justice but without any reference to the academy that purports to teach it. Having been the sole member of the Kalamazoo College faculty who some year ago fought—-and was vanquished—- against the initiation of the now regnant women’s studies program, at 88 and emotionally exhausted I have no intention of taking on the powers that be for a seoncd ,and inevitably futile time. Whether there still exists a local/regional chapter of the M.A.S. I’m not at all certain because I gave up several years ago simply attempting to get the group to have occasional meetings. My efforts to work through the state organization have also gone nowhere.  Recently I received reassuring words from the national organization but so far there has been no back-up of any kind.  It strikes me that there are in southwestern Michigan at least two dozen different educational or cultural groups that might possibly be interested in forming a coalition that would at least examine those issues such as social justice (or sustainibility, etc.) that are of common conern.
Years ago Steve Balch would come out every couple of years just to see how things were going. Can nothing be done to remedy the problem?