Ferguson and the Dark Side of Social Justice

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

In my previous article on Ferguson, I wrote that a “serious problem with Social Justice is the potential for harm because, unlike justice, it is not connected to reality. It may line up with reality sometimes, but at other times it won’t and when that happens bad things can occur.”  This has sadly been the case in Ferguson.

From the very beginning, supporters of Social Justice assumed the worst. They cast the shooting of Brown into a political framework of white racism and black victims. In doing so, they increased tensions and built up anger; anger that exploded into violence when the facts did not correspond to mythology that they had created, and that they had been encouraging.

Of course, after the riots that they helped inspire left parts of Ferguson in ruins, many will say all the correct platitudes about not wanting violence. These, however, will quickly be followed up by claims that we should not let a violent few, or I might add the facts, get in the way of the bigger issue of systemic racism in our culture.

Yet the fact remains that all those who prejudged this, who were prejudice against the police officer, and who fanned the anger and resentment, bear a moral responsibility for the results of that anger that was released on Ferguson.

Again this highlights a key difference between Justice and Social Justice. Justice is grounded in objective truth, while Social Justice focuses on subjective feelings, feelings that are often contrary to reality, as they were in this case.  Face it! If you attack someone who has a gun, much less a police officer, and then charge at them as Michael Brown did, you are very likely to be killed. The facts are clear that the police officer acted in self-defense and thus the Grand Jury had no legitimate choice other than to reach the conclusion they did. To do otherwise would have been a miscarriage of Justice.

So when President Obama said that the anger of those displeased with the results was “understandable” he raised the question of in what way was it understandable?  It certainly was not understandable in the sense that there was any legitimate criticism of the Grand Jury’s conclusion. So just how was their anger understandable?  The only way is if you ignore the law, ignore the facts, or both.

This is the dark side of Social Justice as revealed in Ferguson. But the problem goes well beyond the destruction of Ferguson. It sows the seeds of future unrest. While advocates of Social Justice speak of healing, because it is not based on reality, Social Justice only exacerbates the problem and creates even more division. It makes things worse, not better.

Supporters of Social Justice constantly say we need a frank discussion on such issues. Yet, because its aims and goals are not grounded in truth, Social Justice acts as a barrier that hinders such discussions.  To point to the truth often results in angry charges of racism aimed at shutting down any who would disagree.  The results of the Social Justice mindset can be seen in that now that the facts are known, supporters want to move quickly past the facts so to get back to their agenda.

Ed Stetzer, writing in Christianity Today following the Grand Jury’s decision wrote, “White evangelicals must listen because there is a context to this tragedy, we must listen to feel the pain behind the problem and finally we listen so that we might acknowledge that injustice really exists.”  There is a context. It is a context built up by well-meaning advocates of Social Justice, and by not so well-meaning race hustlers.  It is a context that focuses on racism; one that divides and isolates communities; one encourages hatred, fans anger and builds resentment.

It is a testimony to the lack of clear thinking on this issue that here I am obliged to make the otherwise obvious statement that of course I believe there are racists in this country.  I simply reject that it plays anywhere near the role that advocates of Social Justice or the race hustlers claim.

My view is not just based on my own experience, as I have encountered very few racists, nor the false claims of racism such as at Ferguson. It is also based on the fact that those who make such claims frequently have to resort to talking about hidden and subconscious racism. The simple fact is that Occam’s razor works very well in eliminating these tortured and complex rationalizations that seek to find racism everywhere, even where it does not exist.

This is not to say that everything is well and good and that we can move on. There are serious and complex problems here. There is the breakdown of the family, failing schools, lack of economic opportunity, and crime, just to name a few.  But the misplaced focus on Social Justice in general and race in particular hinders, not helps in addressing such problems. In fact even honestly talking about these can get you labeled a racist, as Rudy Giuliani recently discovered when he cited some statistics concerning black on black crime.

If we really want to prevent future Fergusons we need to focus on Truth, Justice, and individuals, not on groups, Social Justice and agendas. Only then can we address the actual problems, rather than perceived grievances. A lot will have to change and it will take a lot of time and effort, but at least we would be working on the actual problems and going in the right direction.-

Nov 26th, 2014

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