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Social Justice in the Shadows

Clay Routledge (Left)

My 42 years of life can be divided roughly into two periods. The first began with my birth in West Africa to Christian missionary parents. Though my family was forced to leave Africa when my siblings and I became deathly ill with malaria, our missionary-style life continued in Missouri’s Ozark region. My father pastored small churches and ended his career in ministry as a hospital chaplain, retiring only when the neurodegenerative disease that ultimately took his life rendered him unable to perform his duties.

In addition to providing spiritual guidance and comfort to congregants, hospital patients and grieving families, my father conducted a separate business as the owner of rental houses. This not only helped my dad support our large family, it also provided him a way to informally share the teachings of Christ through his day-to-day actions. He would allow renters to pay what they could, when they could, even if they fell months behind on their payments. He would drive renters who didn’t have their own transportation to doctor’s appointments, court dates and the grocery store. He would lend them tools, and sometimes money. His houses were modest and inexpensive, well-suited to the needy families, single mothers, ex-cons, and poor older adults who typically had no family support system. Renters sometimes took advantage of his kindness. He forgave them and stayed the course. I miss him.

In Africa, my mother educated women on hygiene and nutrition so that their babies and older children would have a greater chance to survive into adulthood. After returning to the United States, she worked for many years as a nurse. Once her own children were grown, she again felt the calling of missionary work. As part of a medical missionary team, she traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Belarus and Haiti to deliver medical and educational services. Now retired and widowed, she volunteers at her church’s local mission, which helps feed and clothe the poor. I have no doubt that, like my late father, she will continue to serve the less fortunate as long as she is able to do so. That is who she is.

Clay Routledge (in blue) with family

After finishing high school, I worked as a security guard and martial-arts instructor while attending the local commuter college in Missouri. During my senior year, and for a couple years thereafter, I worked in social services and community mental health as a case manager.

During that time, I witnessed the same symptoms of personal and family dysfunction that I’d become familiar with while helping my dad throughout my childhood with his rental properties. My clients consisted in large part of poor folks without high school diplomas or job training. Many had been abused or neglected by parents and romantic partners—and ignored by nearly everyone else. Some were homeless men plagued by mental illness and addiction. Others were women who loved their children but had proven unfit to care for them. I met young men who had promising futures until schizophrenia took hold of their brains, women who had accepted violent men as an expected part of life, young adults who gave up college dreams to provide care and income for relatives—and many others who, for any number of reasons, were simply unable to pull together their unraveled lives.

These clients typically presented themselves through a complex cocktail of toughness and fragility that can’t easily be described to those who have never lived or worked in this sort of environment. What I saw was not just a poverty of the pocketbook, but also one that extended to the culture, family and mind.

The second period of my life began when I decided to strike out on an academic path. I’d never really seen myself as an intellectual per se, but I’d come to enjoy scholarly research. And with a little nudging from a few of my former psychology professors, I took a shot at graduate school. With my wife and two small children, I left my hometown to pursue a PhD in psychology and become a behavioral scientist. I spent four years in grad school; then two years as a research fellow and assistant professor in England; followed by what has now been 11 years as a faculty member at a Midwestern American research university, where I study how humans seek meaning and social connection and what happens when these psychological needs are unmet.

I share this story of my life in these two distinct parts because I believe it has given me some insight into the darker side of the social-justice movement that has taken root in academia and the broader progressive culture. Other writers have argued that the secular left has turned social-justice ideology into their religion. I think there is merit to this argument and propose that, just like traditional religion, social justice is often exploited for personal and political purposes, which potentially further harms those most in need of our support.

Like politicians who show up at church for the cameras and sprinkle religious references into their speeches and interviews—but otherwise show no signs that the teachings of Christ guide their lives—many social-justice academics, writers, and activists seem more intent on gaining status within their political tribes and elite professional niches than on actually assisting truly disadvantaged and vulnerable human beings. There are individuals who are sincerely dedicated to the cause and are making a difference. We rarely hear from these folks because they are, like my parents, quietly and diligently working to help others.

It is notable that the most radical and chic forms of social-justice activism play out at elite universities, where tuition can cost more than the annual income of the average American family—not at the community colleges that working class and poor students of all races and ethnicities are more likely to attend. For many of these less fortunate students, higher education is an investment that they desperately need to monetize through study and hard work. They can’t afford to waste time playing identity politics. They are too broke to be woke.

Though it might grant social and professional benefits to members of the elite liberal class, engaging in scholarship and activism that demonizes men, white people, or heterosexuals doesn’t make the world more just, nor does providing students with empirically-unsupported implicit-bias training and “toxic masculinity” workshops. These practices bake the seeds of prejudice and discrimination into educational experiences that are supposedly focused on fighting prejudice and discrimination. In fact, the use of divisive and hateful language in the name of social justice is a red flag: Those on the front lines know there is too much at stake to burn bridges and attack others. They want allies, not enemies.

The world isn’t made more just by ignoring or trying to suppress scientific evidence that challenges one’s preferred worldview, encouraging witch-hunt methods to attack those who deviate from far-left orthodoxy, or promoting a culture of victimhood. These practices push away those who may otherwise support the cause.

Some of the greatest lessons I learned in actual social justice came from my parents, even if they didn’t use the term “social justice.” They showed me that one way to make the world more just is simply by taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family, so that limited community resources can go to those who are most in need. They taught me to treat people as individuals who share a common humanity, a strategy that has been backed by research examining how to reduce prejudice and promote intergroup harmony. They fostered a mentality of dignity and resilience, never letting us wallow is self-pity. I could go on.

My family lived in a part of the world plagued by mass poverty and disease. Here in the United States, I have seen up close the people in our communities who are truly suffering or unable to provide for themselves. And I realize that despite the fact that the Western world is becoming increasingly open-minded and tolerant, we are still sadly cursed with bigotry and hate. But I also know how to tell the difference between those working for a cause and those making a cause work for them. Beware of the false prophets of social justice.

Whether we call it social justice, God’s work, or something else, there are people on the left, right, and everywhere in-between working hard to study and solve the ills that infect our society, elevate humanity, fight injustice, and help those in need. These individuals often receive little or no public recognition. But there are also many who may be in the spotlight but, whether they realize it or not, are, at best, just in the way. Whether we are talking about traditional religions or their new secular substitutes, if you want to find the people who are making our world a more just place, don’t look in the spotlight. Look in the shadows.

 

Clay Routledge is a Quillette columnist and professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Scientific American. You can follow him on Twitter @clayroutledge 

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48 Comments

  1. Like your life (as you report) this story comes in two parts. The first tells ol service and dedication. I enjoyed it a lot. The second attacks “the elite liberal class” for their use of social justice language for their own ends. I’d like to tell you why I didn’t enjoy it very much.

    THe first part was down to earth and concrete. It told of people doing real things to help others. THe second part lacked that concreteness. It talked in general about people who abuse social justice goals. But it stayed far removed from real people. It didn’t talk about person X who did act Y and why that merits criticism. For the most part it simply repeated oft-heard charges made against social activists.

    I would have much preferred the second part to offer concrete suggestions for how social justice can be served — other than working to help individuals. Helping individuals is fine, but structural reforms are needed as well. What do you recommend in that regard? And how do you recommend campaigning for them?

    You know the people who need help. How do you suggest that organized society help them?

    • James Lee says

      First of all, that was a great essay.

      Russ Abbott writes: “You know the people who need help. How do you suggest that organized society help them?”

      The author answered the question through the essay. What is “organized society” other than human beings assisting their brothers and sisters.

      This habit of always looking for “organized society”, government, policy, someone else, to address human suffering is a key part of the problem.

    • E. Olson says

      Prof Routledge very accurately states the leftist bias problems that plague social science academic research on the “victim” classes, which are starting to come to light. Rather than look for the full-picture of why the poor are poor or why woman/blacks/Hispanics are under-represented in STEM fields or the corporate board rooms or over-represented among the “underpaid”, the overwhelmingly left leaning social science and humanities professoriate typically only look at racism, sexism, “xxx”phobia, etc. as the total cause – i.e. they seek to blame white heterosexual Christian males for all of society’s problems. In large part, I expect much of this blame game is due to the intractability of many of the most important reasons for the inequities, because it would mean most of the common leftist policy solutions that the researchers are hoping to find support for in their research are doomed to fail. For example, we know IQ is biggest single predictor of life success, but 100 years of effort have failed to find any effective educational or social interventions that can raise low IQs. Certain personality traits (i.e. conscientious, openness) and cultural values (i.e. work ethic, honesty, valuing education and rule of law) are also strongly associated with life success in modern economies, but brain and DNA research, and the rare social science research that cares to examine them are finding many of these characteristics to be genetic and/or have long-term environmental causes that are difficult or impossible to change in a positive direction with mass-market public policies, and in fact seem to be easier change in a negative direction (i.e. the war on poverty programs have seemingly killed off traditional family structures and weakened work ethic and honesty among the poor and likely funded a lot of drug addictions).

      Jesus said over 2000 years ago that “the poor would always be with us”, and the major reason why is that the poor make a lot of poor decisions about money, friends, sexual partners, child rearing, drugs, education, and work, which perpetuates their poverty and leads to multi-generational poverty. Despite trillions of $ spent on welfare and foreign aid, the effects of these poor decisions have proven impossible to eradicate, yet are seldom studied because they “blame the victim” or when rarely studied are biased towards finding results that place the blame for poor decisions on evil white bankers, police, teachers, business owners, etc. Similarly, the small-scale and personable type of “missionary” work that Prof. Routledge’s parents performed to help the poor are probably the most effective means of alleviating the problems of the poor, but leftist research biases against religion (especially Christianity) and private charities (especially funded by “dirty” capitalists) means the effects of these efforts are under-studied or studied with a slant to “disprove” their positive effects.

      Here are some recent papers that have heroically and controversially addressed the leftist bias among social scientists.

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318546011_Does_Activism_in_Social_Science_Explain_Conservatives'_Distrust_of_Scientists

      http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jussim/Duarte%20et%20al,%202015,%20BBS,%20target,%20commentaries,%20reply.pdf

      • Thank you for your insights into todays social justice. Being a Canadian with a large family and watching them grow and develop. I have to say you hit it right on. Each of my children have gone to university. A number of them did their post grad for teachers college and the others in social work. Two of my children have been taught that social justice according to their professors was to blame others and make them into scape goats. For example white males, Christins etc are to blame for the injustices of our time. Ill give you a bit on our heritage. I am of an Irish/Scottish Catholic background and second generation Canadian and my husband their father is Argentian/Italian Catholic background first generation Canadian. Both of us from large families. The social justice they are being taught is about victimhood and blame. A twisted sense of compassion which actually leads to narcissism instead of true caring and giving which as you have mentioned happens most often in the shadows. Your words of treating all people with dignity and respect is true social justice and it begins in our homes and moves on from there. To know history is imperative so that we do not repeat the past. One professor mentioned that science was mute and the learning of history was good only in so far as it feed their criteria. This is not to justify wrongs committed by others through past events. But we need to be aware that we all have done wrong hense guilty of hurting others and we have all done good. We will never creat a perfect society because there exists no perfect human being, but we can creat a merciful society by first recognizing our need for mercy and then extending that mercy outward to All of humanity.

    • First you murder 12 million Ukrainians so that you can control food production by the state.

      Then you set up 5 year plans that don’t work, incentivize dishonest and fraudulent reporting, and misallocate resources.

      Then you blame someone else for your problems.

      Rinse, repeat, with the latest iteration being Venezuela.

      I would suggest that your desire for ‘organized society’ to help people start with a deep understanding of the stupid and murderous attempts that characterized the last century. Yes there are examples of successful programs, but they are the exception. Study why.

      And by the way, keep yourself occupied for decades figuring this stuff out so that the many many people who do what this man’s father did can get on with it without your grandiose schemes making things worse.

  2. CONNER M STEACY says

    This reminds me of an apt analogy.

    The righteous activists like to think of themselves as members of the French resistance combating the German occupation. Once real sacrifice is required they then become the Vichy.

  3. Pingback: Social Justice in the Shadows – Foggytown's Micro Blog

  4. Tony Bowman says

    I am not a Christian but articles like this make me want to become one. I have read a lot of older Christian writings and I see sparks of what Clay writes in them but so much of that seems lost on today’s Church. Not only is personal holiness gone but so is agape – traded for the religion of prosperity. The spirit of meekness and “poverty” is seldom heard in pulpits that are too busy rocking out on Sundays or stumping for socialism or “conservative values”. It all makes me long for that primal spirituality that quietly practices the preaching, that gives as much weight to orthopraxy as it does orthodoxy…….

    Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.
    – Thomas a Kempis

    • Paul Goodfellow says

      You make some valuable points and offer an accurate critique. But don’t leave it at wanting to become one. 🙂

      • peanut gallery says

        Unfortunately, I think a lot of what I see from the religion is useless focus on the coming of Christ. I think the church needs it’s own reform and focus on ideas that are helpful and useful. Pining for the end of the world is none of those. Evangelicalism has turned a lot of people off the whole enterprise if you ask me.

    • The reason you should become a Christian is because of your own failings. You, like the rest of humanity, fall short of God’s moral standards and fall under His wrath. God sent His Son Jesus to die for sinners. If you trust in Him alone for your salvation, you will be forgiven of your sins and you will receive His righteousness.

      Then you will join your fellow believers as being forgiven sinners. Imperfect, but striving.

  5. Paul Goodfellow says

    Great article, sir. I was born in Ghana myself and had malaria 3 times (probably the same malaria just rearing its ugly head 3 times). I loved the story of your parents and enjoyed reading of their faithfulness.

  6. This being Quillette, once I realized this article was written (at least initially) from a Christian perspective, I sort of kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I waited for Routledge to recount how he finally cast off the absurd magical thinking of his youth and joined the ranks of those dedicated to reason and science. That didn’t happen. Instead the essay manages to balance Christian belief with secular ideology in a way that was simultaneously critical (in a fair manner) of both, while neither dismissing nor denigrating either.

    A fine balancing act and an inspiring piece. Bravo.

  7. I have worked for religious charities that provide services to the neediest people. They did great work and helped a lot of people. However, it was a drop in the bucket. Charity, religious or otherwise, doesn’t come close to meaningfully addressing poverty and its associated problems on a societal level and it never has. It’s a popular conservative talking point to insist that charity could and should replace government programs designed to alleviate poverty, just as it’s a popular to pretend that if only you didn’t have to pay taxes you’d drop the savings in the collection plate at your church. But it just doesn’t work that way.

    Even if people really did donate that generously, the allocation of those funds would still require an administrative bureaucracy that would end up being a government in all but name, with one extremely important difference: religious charities have a dual mission of helping people and advancing the interests of the religious institutions that administer them, and these two imperatives can and often do come into conflict. Nor are secular charities immune from similar institutional pressures.

    People like the author’s father who reach out a hand when they see an individual struggling really do shine out in this world as examples of kindness and social engagement to which we all can aspire. However, the reason there are so many struggling people is not just because there aren’t enough kind individuals. Systemic problems require systemic solutions That’s why we have representative governments in the first place — to act collectively on the behalf of the citizens when citizens acting as individuals can’t achieve the same ends.

    Conservatives understand this perfectly well in some instances: you don’t hear people saying “why have an Army when we could just transport a bunch of armed, free individuals acting according to their consciences over to Normandy to settle this business without the interfering hand of government bureaucracy and the troubling specter of collectivism?” Maybe that’s why LBJ called it the War on Poverty — he picked an example of collective action that he knew people understood. Too bad it has so many other unhelpful connotations.

    • Ned Flanders says

      The fly in your ointment is the concept of ‘systemic problems.” This is an opaque concept based on assumptions that lack evidence or are just plain wrong. An example of this, is the common assumption that when there is inequality between groups, it is as a result of prejudice or discrimination. The systemic solution is then to create a bureaucracy to identify and eliminate said discrimination. In order to sustain itself, it becomes in the best interests of the bureaucracy to perpetuate the very inequality that it was created to address. This is obvious in the case of the vast diversity bureaucracy currently reeking havoc in the west.

      Young people today are encouraged to save the world. They get so far down the rabbit hole that eventually they must forge ahead at all costs rather than acknowledge that they were mislead. It’s a beautiful world and the answers are much simpler: work hard, build stuff, be good to those around you and try to be happy.

    • Innominata says

      I question whether “systemic solutions” are the answer. Here’s my rationale:

      “Work”, “school”, and “getting services” these days more and more means “navigating and playing bureaucracy.” We are now the most over-bureaucratized people the world has ever seen.

      The simplest formulation of *The Problem* is that we have created a society so bureaucratized and complicated that a huge part of our population cannot function and run their own lives without subsidization and social worker guidance.

      It’s a vicious circle: the more bureaucracy we create to subsidize and guide the poor (“systemic solutions”), the more bureaucracy they have to fight through. The solution is also the problem.

      The poor, those without a family and other help in navigating bureaucracy, those of lower IQ, those with illnesses that make bureaucracy particularly taxing … they all lose in the bureaucracy endurance contest the US has become.

      It might make more sense to simplify our society and slash bureaucracy to the point where even those below average can intuitively work together and with their government absent systemic crutches and the coercion of bureaucracy (bureaucracy and “systemic solutions” are always backed by threat of force, whether “pay your taxes to support welfare or go to jail” or “show up to your parole officer check-in or go to jail”).

      Such a solution will NOT be palatable to the elite. They make an awful lot of money foisting bureaucracy on the hoi polloi, and the bureaucratic control makes for a very neat and orderly society for them. You can imagine the anarchy if the poors could park on OUR streets without permits from the bureaucracy, or apply for OUR jobs without a sheepskin “smarty certificate” from a bureaucratic universicollege! Pretty soon, poor but bright and/or hardworking youngsters would be getting ahead in droves, and then where would we be?

      And it keeps getting better.

      There is a new, multi-billion-dollar “systemic solution” that bureaucratizes friendship, called “Facebook”. This bureaucracy takes what used to be completely intuitive and free–communicating with friends–and turns it into a new bureaucratic hurdle, complete with a processing fee (your private information), sign up paperwork , and constant checking in and monitoring. Users get to ignore and block out undesirables, and the bureaucracy even dictates what words and ideas you can type to your friends, so that no racisms or sexisms soil the ether. We have literally reached the point where one has to go through a bureaucracy to be friends with someone.

      If we don’t fix this, I am concerned we are headed for Brazilian-style favelization.

    • Farris says

      I question the choice of the word systemic. When discussing communities in need discussing the pathologies endemic to those communities is generally verboten, ie blaming the victim. The view point of faulting society is the only tolerable perspective.
      I work with a lot of immigrants. Many of which are hard working and frugal. Their children are not only encouraged to work in the business but pushed to value and excel in education. Most of these children end up attending and excelling in college. Within a generation these families end up becoming upper middle class or beyond. This is the formula that works best. Any aid to the under privileged that does not stress these values but rather encourages victimization will fail.

  8. Conan the Agrarian says

    “I know how to tell the difference between those working for a cause and those making a cause work for them…”

    Perfect turn of phrase. Brought to mind Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, Beto O’Rourke, and friends.

    “Social justice” is a chilling term. We have become inured to it, because we’re told it means bringing fairness to the socially disadvantaged.

    That’s a canard. “Social justice” means using social pressure to enforce fashionable ideas of correct outcomes. It means inflicting justice by means of social passion instead of the judicial.

    The tradition of English common law was meant as an antidote to social justice and its vacillating tendencies. Traditional justice is supposed to be above the social, a third-person arbiter detached from the passions of the mob and from the parties at odds, with a duty to process rather than outcome.

    “Social justice” has many iterations through history, including the lynch mob and witch tribunal.

    Social justice almost always involves finding some person or group guilty of unusual prosperity or similarly “getting above themselves,” followed by slapping them down and forcible redistribution of their property.

    Scholars have pointed out that in Salem, the farmland of families accused of witchcraft usually wound up being owned by the neighbors who accused them. Thomas Sowell wrote that social justice is just dressed up envy. He may be right.

    • Thomas Sowell is right about lots of things–and honest and lucid and informed and logical, too. If we had been listening to him, we would be much further along than we are.

  9. This author has captured much of my experience regarding differences between utilizing social justice to foster justice vs. personal relating to others as fellow members in a wounded world. High school and college (social/women’s studies) in essence gave me the idea that my skin tone & other minority classifications nearly required me to “fight systemic oppression.” However what/who I really fought was a kind of ghost known as “the man” who represented privilege and therefore “owed” me for not being privileged. This toxic view of others, especially straight white older men, led to a necrotizing attitude that rotted out the spirit of care and shared humility I came to learn about in the Bible.

    I’m not the type of Christian certain Christians want…I’m a woman married to a woman for example. Also I see apostasy in many churches as well so I have not yet found a church that simply sticks to the Bible and keeps the political (left or right) at bay. But I read the Bible because in doing so I came to understand humanity from a lens reaching back 2,000-6,000 years. From this I learned about my own hypocrisy because I had a very tit for tat relationship to the so-called privileged. I didn’t see that those with money suffer in their own way and that I was emotionally and mentally invested in rebellion and even a kind of vengeance. Rather than working with a variety of people to foster community, in social justice I demonized the “other.” This was no different than the claims of those who pretend to speak peace but act indifferent or hostile to those deemed wrong.

    Understanding how clamors for “peace & safety” can lead to soul rot from wanting society to improve in ones own image, I began to approach other humans no matter what (even if I highly disagree and even feel offended) as someone who may need a smile, joke, or moment of eye contact. Example- yesterday I was in line at a bakery with predominantly white upper middle class customers. My old knee jerk attitude kicked in as I had to wait longer than usual for service. The second I caught myself thinking “aww man don’t they know I’m an oppressed person and should get my bread now” I knew the real story was just staff were busy. Instead of being grumpy at the service worker it became more important to find out how *she* was doing, not how I was feeling. In approaching her in this spirit, we had a great conversation and the rest of the day became of series of joyful interactions.

    I was never more sick physically & spiritually than I was when I was knee deep in grievance and believing myself downtrodden. When I gave up the perpetual victim ghost, real community became possible. When I read the Bible I came to see that when Jesus said there would always be the poor, it wasn’t just about financial solvency, it was about poverty of spirit. No one is exempt for this poverty and no amount of yelling, feigned righteousness, or redistribution will change that. While I don’t think everyone needs to be Christian, a little love in the heart really does foster a spirit of independent unity. This author captured that sentiment well & it is appreciated.

    • Daniel says

      Thank you Mrs. Q,

      “I was never more sick physically & spiritually than I was when I was knee deep in grievance and believing myself downtrodden. When I gave up the perpetual victim ghost, real community became possible. ”

      I recently came to this realization and perhaps not coincidentally came to understand more clearly my responsibilities as a citizen, parent and Christian.

  10. Thank you very much. I worked in the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s and have, since then, observed exactly the dynamic you describe here – that of people making a movement work for them as opposed to vice versa. Sometimes I despair for the future of society. When I do, I take refuge in our common faith and a recognition that those of us who work for social justice do it in concert with and in the name of something larger than ourselves. God bless.

    “Don’t you know me by my well worn shoes
    I walked this road beside the King of Jews
    I came back to Jerusalem
    I came back to Jerusalem
    And it’s all coming down right now …” ~ James Raymond

  11. Kevin Herman says

    I think social justice is a poor descriptor of the work your family has done to benefit humanity. Simple kindness and charity is much better I think. Bigotry and hatred will always exist they are part of human nature. Its not through lack of education or knowledge in most cases its a biological urge that many cannot resist to distrust those different then them. But God bless your family if there were more people like you the world would be a much better place

  12. I could write a very similar life story, although I ended up in at the hard science end of the game – I too escaped from actual contact with the poor and illiterate.

    The comment above states that you cannot do anything about the endowment that individuals have inherited such as IQ and personality traits that underlie at least some inequity. However, the Flynn Effect indicates otherwise. A recent analysis of data from the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932 and 1947 puts this in another light (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.880.6529&rep=rep1&type=pdf). These data are unique insofar as both surveys included about 95% of ALL children aged 10-11 allowing an estimation of the actual distribution of IQ. The distributions are negatively skewed, with what looks like a hump below the mean. The authors argue that distributions hide 2 normal curves, with a curve under the lower half that represents kids for whom there was some perturbation of normal developement. About 20% in both surveys were in this group, which could represent everything from genetic mutations to environmental stresses in utero and later.

    The implication is that the development of at least some of those in the lower curve is impaired by environmental factors. These are things that change with better social conditions, vaccines, antibiotics, ect. In other words, not all children develop to their full potential. For example, I know one with mild physical assymetry and psychological problems that probably stem from an infection his mother got in midterm pregnancy; other children are malnourished or mistreated.

    The point is, we may never get away from the Bell Curve, but shifts up are now being noticed in Subsaharan Africa. Maybe this is the mysterious Flynn Effect, but it also might be a reflection of more children developing to their full potential.

    nb – Malaria is the biggest frontier now that most parasites are treatable. This is because iron defficiency anaemia reduces morbidity from malaria, but it also seriously affects fetal and post-natal growth.

    • In USA kids in richest black families with (on average) smartest black parents achieve approximately same (on average) SAT results as children of poorest white families with (on average) least intelligent white parents:
      https://benkurtzblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/black-white-sat-score-gap.png

      The idealistic dream of ‘the improvablity of man’ that is baked into socialism and the SJW worldview, that we are all born with equal potential that can be realised through nurture, has been comprehensively disproven. It’s an unfair and horrible reality that the worse attainments that black people have on average (and white people relative to north east asians) is unfortunately dictated by genetics. They can’t be fixed by any intercession or improvement in environment after conception. If we want to eliminate inequality we have to attack the problem genetically. Nothing else can work, and every other approach (beyond providing good education and family environment and accepting there will be a gap in average attainment) is a waste of money and effort.

  13. codadmin says

    In the same way that leftists are not liberals, leftists don’t care about ‘social justice’.

    Leftists care about their leftism, not ‘social justice’, or justice of my kind.

    It’s Leftism first, justice second.

    I’ll give people an example of this. In the UK a few years ago the Conservatives suggested splitting the medical bill with means tested individuals who wanted private operations.

    The proposal, if implemented, would have saved the NHS hundreds of millions of year. Expensive and time consuming operations, that would normally have been carried out by the NHS, would have shifted to private.

    Instead of the government paying full whack for an operation, which can cost tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands, they would pay half.

    Not only would this save money, it would also free up waiting lists, and people who could never afford private anyway would find themselves at the top of waiting lists all of a sudden.

    The ‘disadvantaged’ in other words.

    Of course, the left went absolutely crazy and the proposal was dropped. In their eyes, private health care is a sin, and any proposal, regardless of it’s merits or if it helps the less well off, must be resisted.

    Ideology first, people second.

    • codadmin says

      Typos galore…please implement a revision option Quilette that lasts for 5 minutes after publishing.

  14. W2class says

    Cognitive behaviour modification was developed in recent years as a treatment for social anxiety disorders. It is found that socially anxious people could walk into a room full of happy people and immediately fixate on the one person who was unhappy or angry, so much so that they saw anger everywhere they looked. Their anxiety and caused their brains to become programmed to be hypervigilent for anger and danger. The therapy involved having groups of photos flashed up on a screen, one of which depicted a happy person. The anxious person had to select the happy snap as quickly as possible. By doing this on a regular basis, anxiety can be significantly reduced retraining the brain to focus on positive social input.

    Those who teach victimhood, political correctness, privilege, implicit-bias, etc. Are training people to experience the world as a relentlessly negative, dangerous and hopeless place. In prosperous, stable, free countries such as my native Australia, such a view of life is a serious distortion from the reality of most people’s lived experience and makes their lives significantly worse. People who teach such things are doing real evil in the world by creating unwarranted distress, anger and division.

    Trust ideologues to take a simple and positive principal, “let”s try to treat each other with dignity and respect”, and in their zealotry turn it into a creed of oppression and hatred.

  15. The author’s description of the of the more cult-like SJWs reminds me of Jordan Peterson’s observations about socialists during his youth: it wasn’t so much that the wanted to aid the poor as that they despised the rich.

  16. Pizza Pete says

    Beautiful piece.

    I’m not religious but clearly the Left has a lot more to gain from contemplating the moral philosophy of Christ than it does Marx’s epistemology of hate.

  17. “Life is mostly froth and bubble
    Two things stand like stone:
    Kindness in another’s trouble;
    Courage in your own.”

    Adam Lindsay Gordon

  18. Jeanne Marie says

    The problem with today’s “social justice” is that it has been disconnected from the Gospel. And when “social justice” is disconnected from the Gospel, and also from Biblical prophecy (e.g, the book of Amos), then what you end up with is a false justice.

  19. Jeanne Marie says

    Excellent article, by the way! The link to it was posted at Alan Kurschner’s website.

  20. Gary Sweeten says

    Thought provoking article. A couple of thoughts. I have trained thousands of Peer and Professional Counselors. One key point that gets the most positive feedback is my focus on The Golden Rule that advises us to “Do unto others what we want them to do unto us”. I love others like I love myself. I respect them and do nothing to shame them. Rule 2 is The Lead Rule. That is “Do for others what they need to do for themselves.” This is disrespectful and violates Rule 1 because I do not want to be treated like that. Rule 3. The Rock Rule which says, “Try to do for others what only God can do”. This is idolatry by making ourselves gods. And it destroys the dignity of the people we are trying to save.

    People in ministry and helping the sick, poor, downtrooden are not gods that can perform miracles. We must start with the helpers and train them to pursue The Golden Rule. “Hell hath no fury like an codependent resisted.”

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