Can there be a benefit to acknowledging our country’s past sins?
After I’ve spent the previous 11 chapters dealing the SJ program some scathing criticism, you might be surprised that I would even ask this question. However, sometimes there can be a nugget of truth even in the midst of a heaping pile of lies.
Even though I believe that the SJ program, as it is typically done, is harmful, I also want for our country to come together. Part of coming together is striving to see the good in people with whom we disagree.
One of my criticisms of the SJ program is that it is so divisive. It separates us into little boxes of identity, it blames people’s problems on those who are deemed to have “privilege”, and it even can foster an exacerbation of the racism that our country has worked hard to leave behind.
So, given that I am opposed to this divisiveness, and favor unity instead, it is therefore my responsibility to find what I can appreciate about the very SJ program that I oppose. SJWs are also a part of this great country. It’s better if we can reconcile with them, rather than seeing them merely as the enemy.
(It takes both sides to reconcile, and so no matter what we do, the SJWs might not do their part. But we can nevertheless do our part, without expecting anything in return.)
I have already acknowledged that most SJWs, I believe, are operating on the best of intentions. Now, I’m going to go a step further and explore, is there a baby in there amongst all the SJ bath water?
I had a conversation recently with a man who sees himself as working for Social Justice. He said that it is important to acknowledge our “dark side” as a country (inhumane slave labor, unethical treatment of indigenous people, and so forth), because otherwise we will always be living under its shadow.
I was a little surprised to hear this, because when I was growing up, I was taught all about these things. In fact, I actually think that in my education, our country’s past sins were over-emphasized.
I had the impression from my education that slavery was a uniquely American problem. Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I learned that pretty much everyone has a history with slavery.
The very indigenous people whom we did, indeed, treat unethically, had been sparing no effort to enslave, murder, and torture each other. Many African tribes enslaved each other as well. Islam has a long, pervasive, and enduring history of slavery, which is practiced on a widespread basis in Mauritania to this day. Approximately 1.25 million white Europeans were enslaved by Muslims between 1500 and 1800. In fact, during the European slavery era, Muslim slavers and African tribes were the wholesalers for the slaves that the Europeans bought. Systems for capturing and enslaving Africans had already been in place on the continent for many centuries before the Europeans got involved.
Of course, just because “everybody did it” doesn’t make slavery OK. However, it does put it into context. I feel that my education did me a disservice by failing to include the historical fact of the world-wide practice of slavery.
If we are to acknowledge our dark side, this context is important, because otherwise some may conclude that we are the worst people in the world. Some SJWs do indeed have this point of view.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that while many if not all cultures have a history of slavery, it is rather special that we have abolished it.
How was this abolition accomplished? The early leader of the abolitionists was a man named William Wilberforce. He was a white male European fundamentalist Christian colonialist—and apparently straight and cis as well—all the “identities” that the SJW’s seem to think are problematic. His movement’s “campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire.”
This white-male-straight-cis-fundamentalist-Christian-colonialist battled actual systemic oppression, as opposed to many of today’s SJW’s, who are bravely pitting themselves against short Target shoppers who ominously ask a tall black person for a hand with detergent that’s on a high shelf.
OK, time to take a deep breath. Note to self: This chapter is supposed to be about unity. Back to the mission of finding something good in SJ doctrine. We’re putting our past history of slavery into context.
Part of our historical context includes the freeing of the slaves. In this country, even during a time when racism was rampant, a whole bunch of mostly white people (along with some black soldiers, some of whom were badly mistreated) fought the Civil War, which was given a moral justification of freeing the slaves.
If we think about the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe, do we blame the British for being the same skin color as the Nazis, or do we give them credit for helping to defeat the Nazis? Do we claim that because the British had sins of their own, such as their horrible treatment of the Irish, they therefore do not deserve credit for their part in defeating the Nazis? I would hope the answer is “no”.
Before the Civil War, in these United States, people commonly thought of themselves as belonging to their state. The United States wasn’t really a nation, it was a union of states. There was no such thing as “U.S. Citizenship” until after the Civil War. So people from Ohio who fought the Confederacy to free the slaves were like people from Britain who fought Germany to defeat the Nazis.
Now that we are one country, if we are going to feel bad about those who owned slaves and mistreated black people, isn’t it also appropriate for us to feel good about those who risked and sometimes lost their lives to free the slaves? Didn’t we also inherit this legacy?
(I am not claiming that the Civil War was a good thing in the bigger picture. It was so destructive that it is difficult to fully get behind it. However, regardless of that issue, freeing the slaves is something good that came out of it, and this emancipation, at least, I can whole-heartedly support.)
So yes, I think it can be helpful to acknowledge our country’s “dark side” if it is put into the proper context. We have a dark side because we are humans, and all humans have a dark side, although the specifics may vary. And the dark side does not need to define us.
I believe that if we are to have a future that is better than our past and our present, then it behooves us to define ourselves as vessels for our love for one another, and our intentions to be kind and fair to each other. It behooves us to define ourselves as the inheritors of a great founding philosophy, that all men (let’s modify this slightly to all humans) are created equal.
While acknowledging the past sins of our nation, let’s also be grateful for the incredible work that has already been done for us, by our imperfect yet valiant forebears, to create a wonderful country which continues to be a beacon for people all around the world who seek freedom. Let’s define ourselves as whole human beings who, while imperfect, can strive, each in our own way, to be kind to each other.
So, is there some benefit that can come from a pursuit of social justice? Perhaps, but it is unlikely to happen at the hands of our university institutions as they are currently configured.
If the SJWs would like to gain some credibility, I propose that step one is to even out the power amongst our college faculty. We can see from historical evidence that a natural balance is less than 2:1 liberals to conservatives. And it stands to reason that for courses which deal in politics, an equitable ratio should be closer to 1:1.
Until the leftists on campus have addressed their own leftist privilege, they really have no business lecturing the rest of us about ours, in my opinion. It would be naïve to trust campus leftists to conduct a Social Justice program without using it to recruit activists for leftist causes. Professors are increasingly admitting that “activism is a goal of their teaching.” They have created an atmosphere that is hostile to dissenting (non-leftist) views, to the point that even some liberal professors are complaining about the intolerance on campus. Leftists’ massively bloated privilege is actively harming young minds and doing a disservice, especially to the very people that are intended to be helped.
Step two is to explore how to address historical wrongs without heavy emotional guilt trips, so that everyone can acknowledge their dark sides as well as the beauty of their spirit, no matter their skin color. And, importantly, this needs to happen in an environment free from coercion. No one should be shamed or given a lower grade if they disagree with the philosophy of their professor, or if they opt out of exercises designed to change people.
So here’s an idea that I propose: To get benefit from this one element of the SJ program we can acknowledge this dark side ourselves (if we don’t think we’ve already acknowledged it sufficiently). In the privacy of our own homes, away from the SJ bullies, we can, each in our own way, come up with a statement of acknowledgment of our country’s past wrongs that includes both a recognition for how horrible these wrongs were, while putting these wrongs in an appropriate context. For me, such a context includes the fact that all of humanity has gone through historical stages of enslaving and oppressing others. Every large group, including Europeans, have been enslaved. It is a shared historical experience. And secondly, an appropriate context includes the bright side, which is that we have sacrificed perhaps more than anyone else in the world to end the oppression and create a space of freedom and equality.
The benefit to us of acknowledging our dark side is that then there is nothing to fear from the SJWs. They have no guilt trip with which to badger us. We have already acknowledged our country’s past sins and put them into an appropriate context. We can just smile and say, “This guilt trip is not for me. If you are curious why, I’ll be happy to explain.”
Now, the next chapter is specifically intended for the rare, brave SJW who is reading this Guide. If you are not an SJW, feel free to skip directly to the Conclusion, to discover what you can do in just a small amount of time, to derail the SJ agenda on campus.