Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America
By Noah Rothman
Regnery Publishing; hardcover, $28.99; available Tuesday, January 29
Noah Rothman. the associate editor of Commentary magazine, powerfully exposes the real motives behind the social justice movement in the United States and explains why it should be taken seriously, in his new book, Unjust.
Rothman feels today's social justice movement is anything but just. Identity-obsessed activists have determined that Lady Justice should ditch the blindfold to achieve what they think is "social justice." Activists prefer to tip the scales in favor of a toxic ideology that is rooted in a hatred of success, encouraging division, anger, and vengeance. In a society ruled by "social justice," the most coveted status is victimhood, which people will go to great lengths to attain.
The real victims in such a regime are blind justice, the standard of impartiality, which we once took for granted; and free speech rights. These hallmarks of American liberty, which are already gravely complicated in universities, corporations, and the media, are under attack in our legal and political systems.
Social justice is a creed born from grievances, some of them which are very valid. Rothman shows that tribalism and the fanatical pursuit of retribution threaten to destroy a political culture that's historically unmatched in its commitment to justice. This runs counter to the American ideal, and it must be stopped before it's too late.
Rothman writes, "The American tradition of political idealism is imperiled by a growing obsession with the demographic categories of race, sex, ethnicity, and sexual orientation - the primary categories that are now supposed to constitute 'identity.' As groups defined by these various categories have come to command the comprehensive allegiance of their members, identity alone has become a powerful political program. As it turns out, it is not a program that appeals to the better angels of our nature.
"Identity has always been a part of our political culture, but lately the practitioners of identity politics have been less interested in continuity and legitimacy than in revenge. This retribution is antithetical to the conciliatory ideals by which injustices perpetrated in the name of identity were once reconciled. The authors of this vengeance reject the kind of blind, objective justice toward which Western civilization has striven since the Enlightenment. They argue, in fact, that blind justice is not justice at all. Objectivity is a utopian goal, a myth clung to by naive children. We are all products of our experiences and the conditions into which we were born, whether we like it or not. Those traits set us on a course that is in many ways predestined.
"The identity-obsessed left believes that Americans who are born into 'privileged' demographic categories - male, white, and heterosexual, among others - will have an easier time navigating life than their underprivileged counterparts, among them women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBT. Those on the right believe the opposite is true: the historically marginalized have had the scales tipped in their direction. The so-called 'privileged' majority not only has lost its privileges but is often stripped of its essential rights.
"The paranoia which can ensue from this division is the venomous progeny of identity politics. Its practitioners call it social justice.
"This idea of social justice has developed into a way of life. The study of identity long ago ceased the resemble an academic discipline. Its tenets are so inviolable as any religious dogma. The diversity industry is populated by con artists, some of whom have shifted from advocating diversity solutions to pitching themselves as experts on which diversity solutions so often fail. They have bloated the administrations of already top-heavy organizations, such as large businesses and universities, while failing to achieve even their stated objectives.
"You would think this charlatanism would bother social justice enthusiasts. Oddly enough, this parasitic relationship seems to annoy only their critics. Often those who display even token obeisance to the diktats of identity politics escape censure, no matter how deserving of condemnation their behavior may be. So enamored with their own virtue are these social justice advocates that they cannot see the injustices they are abetting."
With Unjust, Rothman has written one of the most authoritative books on one of the causes of this current political divide, with a lot more at stake than just who wins the next election.