The Power of Social Justice Religiosity

In some ways, it is fascinating to watch the way in which social justice ideology causes adherents to behave as if they are in a radical, religious cult. Take, for example,  a community that “has been a refuge for scrappy working-class activists with far-left politics.”  Being Holy and Pure Social Justice Activists, they decided they would no longer call the police on anyone because the police were Evil:

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Ms. Albers, who is white, and many of her progressive neighbors have vowed to avoid calling law enforcement into their community. Doing so, they believed, would add to the pain that black residents of Minneapolis were feeling and could put them in danger.

Of course, anyone with an IQ above 80 could have predicted what would happen next.  It turns out their neighborhood is becoming a magnet for homeless drug addicts and thieves.  Yet many still cling tightly to their holy doctrines:

She worries that a lot of what has been written about the camp on community message boards has been influenced by racial profiling. To the extent that illegal activity is going on in the park, Ms. Miller does not blame the tent residents. “My feeling around it is those are symptoms of systemic oppression,” she said. “And that’s not on them.”

Some, however, are experiencing guilt:

Ms. Miller came to see her decision to buy a home in the neighborhood as potentially preventing a person of color from doing so. And while Ms. Albers used to feel only pride about the work she put in to revitalizing the community, now, she sees her work as gentrification that may have pushed out nonwhite residents. 

Yet, if there is to be a monthly award for the most Woke Acolyte, Mr. Erickson would be in the running:

Mitchell Erickson’s fingers began dialing 911 last week before he had a chance to even consider alternatives, when two black teenagers who looked to be 15, at most, cornered him outside his home a block away from the park.

One of the boys pointed a gun at Mr. Erickson’s chest, demanding his car keys.

Flustered, Mr. Erickson handed over a set, but it turned out to be house keys. The teenagers got frustrated and ran off, then stole a different car down the street.

Mr. Erickson said later that he would not cooperate with prosecutors in a case against the boys. After the altercation, he realized that if there was anything he wanted, it was to offer them help. But he still felt it had been right to call the authorities because there was a gun involved.

Two days after an initial conversation, his position had evolved. “Been thinking more about it,” he wrote in a text message. “I regret calling the police. It was my instinct but I wish it hadn’t been. I put those boys in danger of death by calling the cops.”

While Erickson may be patting himself on the back for his holy wokeness, it’s possible that a year or two from now someone is going to be killed by the two 17 year olds with a history of armed robbery.

Oh, before I end this posting, you have to check out this article by Johanan Sowah, a computer engineer who lives in the suburbs of Portland, Orego.  This is a man who embraces indoctrination over his own empirical experience!

I’m a young Black man who used to be opposed to Black Lives Matter. I used to feel that because I hadn’t personally faced blatant racism in my life, then such a thing couldn’t be part of the Black narrative in America today. 

But……..

Like many people outside the movement, I lacked Black friends to share experiences with and learn from. So I started listening more seriously to the accounts of people on the news and on the internet, which opened up a broader African American narrative for me to try and understand.

Now that’s the Power of Social Justice Religiosity.  Nothing like testimonies from the news and internet to find The Truth.   After all, activist led stories are much more reliable than lived experience, right?

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25 Responses to The Power of Social Justice Religiosity

  1. I genuinely can’t tell to what extent racism is actually still a serious problem in Western society. I’m naturally suspicious of anyone who simply claims to “feel” marginalised or left out. It’s clearly possible to interpret any or all negative life experiences as if they were caused or motivated by racism.

    Terms such as “societal” or “systemic” racism seem somewhat vaguely defined and impossible to measure.

    The impression I get is that as far as genuine racism, in terms of words or actions motivated by racial dislike, is concerned, demand far outstrips supply.

    Then again I live in the north of England which isn’t as racially diverse as further south, so my own experience will be limited.

  2. Kevin says:

    Much of the problem is that the term “racism” has been obscured so that different people mean different things when they talk about it, similar to sex and gender. If I’m talking about racism, I’m talking about treating people differently based on their skin color. Ergo, to avoid being racist, you do not treat people differently based on their skin color. If I recall, MLK had a dream where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not their skin color. I happen to believe he was a wise man on that issue. A man or woman should be judged as an individual based on their character.

    The political left these days considers the above view to be racist. To be “color blind”, as they call it, is racist. And even that only applies as a white person. To them, it is impossible for a minority population to be racist, because they do not have “institutional power”. Everyone is viewed through a demographic prism, the very opposite of what MLK dreamed for his children. It is virtually impossible for a white person to criticize a black person without being labeled racist – for example, if I call John Kerry and Barack Obama idiots both, the latter will be called racist even though I applied the same term via the same standard. We aren’t allowed to say that Baltimore has a rat problem (it does) because black people live there (which side equated rats with black people?). If black students underperform compared to white or Asian students, the educational system is racist. And on and on.

    By my definition of racism, the entirety of the political left is inherently racist, judging primarily by skin color instead of character, fostering racial resentment, and crying wolf behind every rock and bush. How big a problem is racism? I imagine it is a bit worse than conservatives make it out to be, but only a tiny fraction of how bad progressives claim. I live less than an hour from Harrison, Arkansas, internationally famous for being near the home of the KKK, and I have almost never heard any sort of racist language or sentiment.

    But then, according to the left, I’m racist because I don’t judge based on race. So who knows?

  3. pennywit says:

    I think there are rational and irrational ways to approach some of these racial and economic issues. I’ve seen gentrification at work in my own community, and I have mixes opinions on it. On the one hand, yay, all the mixed use stuff looks really nice. On the other hand, it has displaced Black residents and driven up overall rents and real estate prices, making it harder for Black people to afford to live in the suddenly nice community or the surrounding area.

    And yes, there is data that shows a significant race-based gap in income and household wealth in the United States. So a gentrification that excludes people based on wealth effectively excludes them based on race as well.

    I also recall the last time I called police regarding somebody else. It was a drunk, homeless man who was passed out on a sidewalk in Las Vegas. The temperature was in excess of a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. I was worried the man might die of dehydration if he stayed out in the sun. I also stayed there until the police and ambulance came, and I waited until he was taken to the hospital. I didn’t want police to mistreat him at all, and I felt the best thing I could do was bear witness.

    That said, there’s a difference between having mixed feelings about the topic and feeling insanely guilty. And there’s a difference between being cautious about a topic and acting in a way that harms yourself. And there’s a difference between considering your own actions carefully and engaging in ritual public self-flagellation.

  4. pennywit says:

    Terms such as “societal” or “systemic” racism seem somewhat vaguely defined and impossible to measure.

    It can be measured if you have the data. You look at things like long-term trends in household income and generational wealth. This data is available and has been analyzed. In the United States at least, it has been difficult to measure police departments’ racial bias because of inconsistent recordkeeping at police departments and difficulty obtaining statistics.

  5. Do differences in wealth imply causation or simply correlation?

  6. pennywit says:

    Causation, actually. The Brookings Institute takes a look at it here. The capsule version is that American families develop a great deal of their wealth through generational transfer. Not just in terms of inheritance, but in terms of one generation giving gifts to the next to help them get started; for example, parents who provide money for the down payment for their kids’ first house, or that substantially finance their kids’ education.

    Brookings and others have found this is easier for White families than for Blacks because past generations faced discriminatory policies that inhibited their ability to earn wealth, and thus to pass that wealth on to current generations.

  7. Surely all that proves is that American society WAS racist in the past, something that nobody would deny.

    Rich families staying rich over many generations at everyone else’s expense is consistent across the world in places that haven’t seen massive wars or revolutions to create a new social order. I have heard that many of the big wealthy families in the south of England are direct descendants of men who followed William the Conqueror and were given those lands back in 1066, the last time the British Isles were successfully invaded.

    The rich elites are the ones with privilege, and they are the ones who benefit from dividing nations across racial lines and getting the common people at each other’s throats instead of uniting against the true oppressors.

  8. pennywit says:

    Surely all that proves is that American society WAS racist in the past, something that nobody would deny.

    It also proves that past racism has a measurable, modern legacy.

    Rich families staying rich over many generations at everyone else’s expense is consistent across the world in places that haven’t seen massive wars or revolutions to create a new social order.

    However, in a democracy or a republic, you can do something about wealth iniquity rather than just sit back and say, “Ho hum, rich are rich over many generations, nothing we can do, la la la.”

    Now, what you choose to do is a different matter altogether.

    The rich elites are the ones with privilege, and they are the ones who benefit from dividing nations across racial lines and getting the common people at each other’s throats instead of uniting against the true oppressors.

    So should proletarians of all countries unite? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic here. But why not?)

  9. Michael says:

    Causation, actually. The Brookings Institute takes a look at it here. The capsule version is that American families develop a great deal of their wealth through generational transfer. Not just in terms of inheritance, but in terms of one generation giving gifts to the next to help them get started; for example, parents who provide money for the down payment for their kids’ first house, or that substantially finance their kids’ education.

    Brookings and others have found this is easier for White families than for Blacks because past generations faced discriminatory policies that inhibited their ability to earn wealth, and thus to pass that wealth on to current generations.

    I’m sure that’s part of the problem. But is this the only factor at play? You’d have to ignore other numbers, such as Children in Single Parent Families. According to these numbers, it’s 65% for blacks and 25% for whites. That difference would go a long way in explaining differences in long-term trends in household income and generational wealth.

  10. “So should proletarians of all countries unite? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic here. But why not?)”

    Because whatever system of government or wealth redistribution human beings come up with will always lead to those who have power becoming rich and corrupt at everyone else’s expense. One set of power-hungry elites will simply be replaced by another. Liberals become conservatives as soon as the status quo suits them. Rebels become dictators the moment they are the ones calling the shots.

    The world is full of idealistic people with bright ideas that invariably only require other people to do anything or make any sacrifices.

  11. FZM says:

    So should proletarians of all countries unite?

    Well, I live in a socialist country which was transformed by the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a white ethno-state where the national income is much closer to that of Angola than that of black Americans. I don’t think this kind of system is what African Americans are aspiring for in general, it being one of the last places in Europe where the old Hegelian ideas about human freedom consisting in service to the collectivity have a strange twilight afterlife. Unauthorised gatherings of more than 3 individuals for any reason in a public place will also attract the attention of the militia and plain clothes state security guys, no BLM or decadent Western ideas about individual human rights here.

    As far as I can tell one reason there are these problems in the US is because all the people with more enterprising, individualist outlooks in Europe tended to leave to go to the New World. This then influenced the spirit and politics of the country so there is more resistance to adopting the kind social policies that arise more naturally in Europe.

  12. pennywit says:

    “So should proletarians of all countries unite? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic here. But why not?)”

    Because whatever system of government or wealth redistribution human beings come up with will always lead to those who have power becoming rich and corrupt at everyone else’s expense.

    I meant why not be sarcastic ….

    Well, I live in a socialist country which was transformed by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

    Again, sarcasm.

  13. pennywit says:

    I’m sure that’s part of the problem. But is this the only factor at play? You’d have to ignore other numbers, such as Children in Single Parent Families. According to these numbers, it’s 65% for blacks and 25% for whites.

    Glad you asked. Here’s an answer:

    Raising children is expensive. The high cost of child care and difficulty of supporting a family on a single income make it particularly difficult for single parents to get by, much less build wealth. Not surprisingly, single parent households have much higher poverty rates and significantly lower wealth than two-parent households. Yet, raising children in a two-parent household isn’t enough to overcome racial disparities in wealth. According to data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, the median white single parent has 2.2 times more wealth than the median black two-parent household and 1.9 times more wealth than the median Latino two-parent household.

    As Figure 2 shows, black couples with children had $16,000 in wealth at the median, while Latino couples with children had $18,800 in wealth at the median. For each group, this is significantly more than the wealth of single-parent households. Yet it is a fraction of the $161,300 in median wealth held by white couples with children—and is still significantly less than the $35,800 in median wealth held by white single parents. Despite the financial benefits of marriage and partnership, including the opportunity to share expenses, provide child care within the family, or have two adult earners, the median white single parent is $19,800 wealthier than the median black couple with children, and $17,000 wealthier than the median Latino couple with children. It’s clear that raising children with two parents is not enough to overcome the racial wealth gap—or even to pull families out of poverty. In 2014, black children with married parents were 3 times more likely to be living in poverty than white children with married parents, while Latino children with married parents were 4 times more likely to be living in poverty than their white counterparts.

  14. TFBW says:

    @pennywit, none of this seems to imply racism as a significant causal influence, which is the premise you’re working from. There are racial differences, yes, but you leap from that directly to “racism”, as though that were the only possible explanation. If all the busting up of old race-related laws and the introduction of substantial amounts of affirmative action haven’t had a positive impact over the last half-century, then surely that’s evidence you’re barking up the wrong tree? At worst, if you keep blaming “racism” for a problem which isn’t actually caused by racism, you’re promoting false guilt, false resentment, and making it less likely that we’ll actually find and solve root cause issues.

  15. FZM says:

    Again, sarcasm.

    Why be sarcastic? I mentioned some of the bad sides but the people of this country also raised themselves up from being mostly illiterate subsistence farming peasants 100 years ago to a modern industrial society within 60 years, and at present are known for automotive manufacturing and a dynamic IT sector.

  16. pennywit says:

    none of this seems to imply racism as a significant causal influence, which is the premise you’re working from. There are racial differences, yes, but you leap from that directly to “racism”, as though that were the only possible explanation.

    Please read the Brookings material again.

    If all the busting up of old race-related laws and the introduction of substantial amounts of affirmative action haven’t had a positive impact over the last half-century, then surely that’s evidence you’re barking up the wrong tree?

    Not so. In terms of American Blacks, you are dealing with about two centuries of slavery (mid 1600s through the mid 1800s) followed by a century and some change of de jure discrimination and oppression (mid 1800s through the mid/late twentieth century), and, in much of the United States continued de facto oppression that has been rolled back in fits and starts.
    The current income and wealth differential is partially attributable to continued de facto discrimination, particularly implicit or unconscious bias. It’s also partially attributable to a legacy of US racism that affects people decades after discrimination officially ended.

    At worst, if you keep blaming “racism” for a problem which isn’t actually caused by racism,

    Spoiler alert: It is.

    you’re promoting false guilt, false resentment, and making it less likely that we’ll actually find and solve root cause issues.

    Absolutely not. I think researchers are right when they point to the continuing legacy of racism, and to continuing institutional biases, as sources of the Black community’s continued lack of prosperity.
    I base my perspective partly on this research and partly on anecdotal evidence of how Blacks interact with American institutions in ways that vastly different from how I interact with them as a white person.
    This isn’t about resentment or guilt. It’s about recognizing how that people in the United States still face disparate treatment because of their race and trying to counteract it in ways big and small. If somebody infers that I’m trying to instill racial guilt because of this … then, well, that’s that person’s problem, not mine.

  17. TFBW says:

    Spoiler alert: It is.

    Well, I can’t argue with facts. Or with assertions that brook no dissent.

  18. Any solution to racial tension that involves dividing people along racial lines or treating people different based on their race is a terrible solution that will only make things worse. This of course makes me wonder how many so-called anti-racism activists and protestors actually want racism to no longer exist.

  19. TFBW says:

    Join the cult of anti-racism, folks. It’s utopia.

  20. TFBW says:

    If I’m ever going to join the cult of anti-racism, or even pennywit’s Enlightened School of Privilege Acknowledgement, I’m going to have to stop listening to Tom Sowell. But he’s black, so wouldn’t that be racist? I’m so confused.

  21. FZM says:

    Not so. In terms of American Blacks, you are dealing with about two centuries of slavery (mid 1600s through the mid 1800s) followed by a century and some change of de jure discrimination and oppression (mid 1800s through the mid/late twentieth century), and, in much of the United States continued de facto oppression that has been rolled back in fits and starts.
    The current income and wealth differential is partially attributable to continued de facto discrimination, particularly implicit or unconscious bias. It’s also partially attributable to a legacy of US racism that affects people decades after discrimination officially ended.

    Obviously the two partiallys are doing a lot of work here.

  22. pennywit says:

    Any solution to racial tension that involves dividing people along racial lines

    Dude … people are already divided along racial lines.

  23. FZM says:

    If I’m ever going to join the cult of anti-racism, or even pennywit’s Enlightened School of Privilege Acknowledgement, I’m going to have to stop listening to Tom Sowell. But he’s black, so wouldn’t that be racist? I’m so confused.

    At the moment the heightened focus on denouncing unjustified historic privilege seems a bit like the situation where a bunch of young guys at the top of a steep slope are pushing piles of snow together to make a big ball.

  24. ” people are already divided along racial lines.”

    If so, nobody on the “anti racism” side seems to have the slightest interest in turning that around.

  25. Michael says:

    As Figure 2 shows, black couples with children had $16,000 in wealth at the median, while Latino couples with children had $18,800 in wealth at the median. For each group, this is significantly more than the wealth of single-parent households. Yet it is a fraction of the $161,300 in median wealth held by white couples with children—and is still significantly less than the $35,800 in median wealth held by white single parents. Despite the financial benefits of marriage and partnership, including the opportunity to share expenses, provide child care within the family, or have two adult earners, the median white single parent is $19,800 wealthier than the median black couple with children, and $17,000 wealthier than the median Latino couple with children. It’s clear that raising children with two parents is not enough to overcome the racial wealth gap—or even to pull families out of poverty. In 2014, black children with married parents were 3 times more likely to be living in poverty than white children with married parents, while Latino children with married parents were 4 times more likely to be living in poverty than their white counterparts.

    Interesting material, but I get the feeling things are being oh so carefully arranged here to reach a preconceived target. I admit I could be wrong, as this is not something I immerse myself in.

    If I posted an analysis which cited data that indicated cigarette smoking was not all that bad for your health, and it turned out the analysis came from the tobacco companies, you would be appropriately skeptical of the analysis. Right?

    Well, when clicking on your link, it turns out that’s what you have done here. Demos is a far left activist “think tank”: https://www.demos.org/
    The lead author is Amy Traub. Being the activist, she feels the need to Tweet:

    https://twitter.com/AmyMTraub?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    As you scroll through her tweets and retweets, it becomes painfully obvious that she has a far left axe to grind. She has an agenda.

    As someone who values critical thinking and intellectual honesty, I can’t trust activist “analysis.” Sorry, but you know my low opinion of activists over the years. If I had the time, I might look more deeply into it myself, but I don’t.

    Look, the activists say, “It’s clear that raising children with two parents is not enough to overcome the racial wealth gap—or even to pull families out of poverty.”

    I would tend to agree, especially if you are expecting such change to happen over one or two generations. My point would be that when two out of every three black households is a single parent, and, as even the activists admit, “single parent households have much higher poverty rates and significantly lower wealth than two-parent households,” then you have an obstacle in the way of trying to rectify racial wealth gaps. A huge obstacle. Two out of every three. That’s close to super majority.

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